This is the latest on developments surrounding the alleged shooting of shelter dogs in Chesterfield Co, SC. It will be updated if new information emerges today.
It seems as if what we’ve heard from the Sheriff so far indicates a position of shooting-shelter-pets-is-legal-so-yay. Let’s go over the applicable state law with a flea comb.
SC law states that shelter pets may be killed via injection, gas or:
Shooting may be used as a means of euthanasia only in an emergency situation to prevent extreme suffering or in which the safety of people or other animal life is threatened or where it is considered necessary by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to eliminate or control the population of feral animals.
(B) In any of the previously listed methods, an animal may not be left unattended between the time euthanasia procedures have commenced and the time death occurs, and the animal’s body may not be disposed of until death is confirmed by a certified euthanasia technician.
Shooting may be used as a means of euthanasia only in an emergency situation – Only in an emergency – and not just any old situation that an ACO deems an emergency. The situation must meet certain criteria.
to prevent extreme suffering – For example, an ACO comes across a mangled cat lying in the road at midnight. The cat appears to be medically hopeless and suffering. Although the ACO is a certified euthanasia tech, he doesn’t have any Fatal Plus on him and is unable to reach any ACOs or vets who can get there in less than an hour. The ACO deems that it would be cruel to allow the cat to suffer for another hour and decides to shoot the cat as an emergency means of preventing extreme suffering.
or in which the safety of people or other animal life is threatened – Cujo is running down Main St, biting people or stalking the perimeter of Farmer Dan’s field where his sheep are grazing.
or where it is considered necessary by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources to eliminate or control the population of feral animals – The SC Dept. of Natural Resources is unlikely to be involved with making emergency decisions on the disposition of shelter dogs and if it was, the dogs would have to be feral in order to qualify under the law as candidates for emergency shooting.
As I interpret the law, if shelter dogs are shot to death under circumstances which fail to meet any of the above criteria, the killings can not be considered lawful. I am not an attorney but the law does seem pretty clear. Furthermore:
(B) In any of the previously listed methods, an animal may not be left unattended between the time euthanasia procedures have commenced and the time death occurs, and the animal’s body may not be disposed of until death is confirmed by a certified euthanasia technician. – If an ACO deems any particular situation to qualify for emergency shooting as provided within the law, he must stay with the animal he’s shot until he has confirmed death – assuming the ACO is a certified euthanasia tech. If the ACO performing the emergency shooting is not a certified euthanasia tech, he still must stay with the animal until he verifies death and then either call a tech out to the scene for verification before disposal or bring the remains back to the shelter where a tech can verify death before disposal.
If the Sheriff’s office investigation results in a finding of no wrongdoing because shooting is a legal method of killing shelter pets, I sincerely hope they plan to back up that claim with details of exactly how this situation qualified as an emergency, which emergency criteria it met, and who the certified euthanasia technician was on hand to confirm death before disposal.
In addition, people who have contacted the various authorities are reporting back that everyone is trying to pass the buck. Do not be deterred. Continue to reach out via letters, faxes, phone calls and e-mails. If they fail to silence us with their “not my problem” responses, they will be forced to come up with an alternative action. Maybe even doing their jobs.
Please contact, using polite and respectful language, the following entities to request an immediate and transparent investigation of the case and prosecution to the fullest extent of the law:
Chesterfield County government officials contact info here.
An outside agency to conduct the investigation – South Carolina Law Enforcement Division:
Fax: (803) 896-7588
INTERGOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS – KATHRYN RICHARDSON, Coordinator (803) 896-7156
According to SC law, it is the state AG who would “bring an action to enjoin a violation” of the law pertaining to methods of shelter pet killings:
The Honorable Alan Wilson
P.O. Box 11549
Columbia, S.C. 29211
There is also an online contact form at the above link.
The governor of the state of SC is Nikki Haley:
Governor Nikki Haley
Office of the Governor
1205 Pendleton Street
Columbia, SC 29201
You may also contact the Governor’s Office at 803-734-2100.
There is also an online contact form at the above link.
Added: I called Gov. Haley’s office and expressed my concerns, specifically about the need for an independent investigation, the “not my problem” syndrome that seems to be going around certain government authorities, and the fact that shooting shelter dogs is NOT a lawful means of “euthanasia” except in certain emergency cases – of which this does not appear to qualify. I was advised the Governor is very aware of the situation in Chesterfield and a statement will be issued (unknown when but it’s being worked on this afternoon). The Governor’s office is taking down names and phone numbers of people who call about the alleged killings and that list is “very long”. Call and add your name!
Added #2: New information from tonight’s news coverage:
On Sunday night, Chesterfield County Sheriff Sam Parker shut down the county animal shelter and put all four animal control officers on leave.
Deputies and volunteers are stopping by throughout the day to care for the animals, but the gate is closed and all animal complaints are now being handled by sheriff’s deputies.
On Monday, Eyewitness News learned that sheriff’s investigators found the remains of six dogs that had been shot. Three of them have been sent to Columbia for autopsies. Parker said he hopes the autopsy will determine how they died, if they had been sick and, if the bullets can be recovered, who shot them.
Because that’s all a huge mystery right now. A real headscratcher, that one.
Parker said if the investigation turns up evidence that shooting the dogs was a criminal act, his office will not investigate any further because of a conflict of interest.
But if they clear themselves of any criminal wrongdoing – well of course THAT’S not a conflict of interest. That’s just solid police work. [fistbump]
Parker said if worse comes to worse; the shelter could close down for good. Ongoing funding woes and controversy could leave the county without a shelter or animal control officers.
“The citizens of Chesterfield County will once again have animals running wild. It’s an option we have to look at, that this shelter may go away,” he said.
Screw you guys, I’m goin’ home! [/Eric Cartman voice]
Oh, also: Animals running wild! ZOMG! Everyone to your bunkers! Buy gold!