Spartanburg Humane Society Violates S.C. Law Regarding Killing of Strays

The Spartanburg Humane Society (SHS)  in SC is a pet killing facility headed by Sandy Christiansen.  I’ve blogged about Mr. Christiansen’s activities related to HSUS and Pitbull killings in the past.  At that time, I reached out for comment but received none.

Today, reader Tami sent me a link to an article which states that the Spartanburg Humane Society has been “violating state law by euthanizing animals in three days”.  Again I reached out to the pound for comment but only received a link to a web page with their official response to the article.  So unfortunately, I was not able to ask any of the questions I had in my mind.  I’ll be asking those here.

SC law states that stray pets must be held for five days at minimum.  The Spartanburg County Council enacted its own law some years back requiring just a three day holding period.  SHS has apparently been utilizing the three day hold ever since.  One of those goshdarn outside agitators took up the matter through legal channels and got results:

The opinion issued last week by Assistant Attorney General Harrison Brant states that any local ordinance that allows animals to be killed after only three days conflicts with state law and those ordinances are invalid.

So it does indeed appear that SHS has been in violation of SC law for years, killing strays before the mandatory hold period is up, just like the article says.  Which is why I was surprised to read the SHS official response, posted on its website, which begins:

Some recent media coverage has inaccurately accused the Spartanburg Humane Society (SHS) of violating the law by giving the public three days instead of five days to reclaim their stray animals.  The SHS takes these allegations very seriously and we want to set the record straight.  The SHS has not violated the law.  We have complied with a long standing local county ordinance that required a three day hold for stray animals.  This law was enacted by County Council and has been enforced for many years by County Animal Control.

Right.  We’ve already established all that.  And it’s been established by the SC AG’s office that in fact, your county ordinance does not trump state law in this matter.  So you were in violation.  For years.  To the tune of an unknown number of dead pets.

On the other hand, maybe it’s not so surprising after all to hear that SHS is in denial.  Going back to the original article:

The Spartanburg Humane Society has 355 kennels for dogs and cats. The facility was built under the assumption that animals could be euthanized after three days, so extending that period could create problems, Christiansen said.

What the actual hell?  Let me go back and re-read that, slowly.  The facility was designed to kill pets after 3 days.  And you call yourself a humane society?!  How about returning strays to their owners before they even get impounded – was the facility designed for that?  How about putting in place the programs of the No Kill Equation in order to end the needless killing of all pets – was the facility designed for that?  I think clearly your facility was designed with a fatal flaw.  Literally.

And then we get into the finger pointing which appears to be part of the Good Ol’ Boys creed:

Other counties and municipalities are also not in compliance with the law, Christiansen said, although he didn’t immediately know specifically which ones. He also did not provide any figures for the number of animals euthanized at the facility this year.

S.C. Animal Care and Control Association President Marli Drum said she wasn’t aware of other counties or municipalities that don’t wait at least five days before euthanizing animals, although there could be others. The association conducts shelter evaluations and makes improvement recommendations. Christiansen also is on the association’s board of directors.

Shorter Christiansen:  Here, let me throw my colleagues under the bus to distract you from my bob and weave.

Apparently by the end of the article, Mr. Christiansen realizes he hasn’t yet blamed the infamous irresponsible public.  And so:

Christiansen said pet owners should contact the humane society as soon as they realize a pet has gone missing to increase the likelihood it will be reclaimed. He said less than 10 percent of dogs and 1 percent of cats are reclaimed by owners.

“Pet owners shouldn’t sit back because they have the extra days,” he said.

In other words, SHS does a dismal job at reuniting lost pets with their owners.  Rather than own that and vow to institute protocols to improve, Mr. Christiansen implies that his pound’s embarrassing RTO rates are the fault of lazy pet owners.

Here are my unanswered questions for SHS:

  • Where can the public find your pound’s statistics which show exactly how many pets you are killing each year?
  • Exactly how many years was SHS killing strays in violation of state law?
  • What other pounds are killing pets in violation of the state law mandating a five day hold for strays?
  • Is SHS willing to work with the county on implementing lifesaving programs in order to end the killing?
  • What is SHS doing to improve its RTO rate?

And lastly, a general question for anyone who knows:

  • What legal remedy, if any, is available to advocates on behalf of the unknown number of pets who have been killed by SHS in violation of state law these many years?

33 thoughts on “Spartanburg Humane Society Violates S.C. Law Regarding Killing of Strays

  1. I hope and pray everyday that more and more people will find out that most likely their animal shelter is not doing all it can to save shelter pets and that it is possible to save nearly all of them. And then I hope that they demand change. Thank you for helping educate the people.

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  2. sounds more like the Inhumane Society. Horrible….why do they love killing innocent animals who could be either adopted out or returned to their families.

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  3. Thank you ,Shirley, for sharing this news.
    I can answer some of your questions.
    1) The public can not find any numbers. A recent FOIa was denied by SHS’ attorney(Ken Darr) ’cause-(paraphrasing here) “We may receive gov funds but our non profit status allows us to keep our stats a secret”
    2)Evening news reports state Spartanburg County implemented this law in 1996, state law on 5 day hold happened in 2000.So, 11 years.
    3) As a member of the board of SCACCA, Mr Christiensen may have access to violators he’s unwilling to share. Afterall, if he knew others violated, he couldn’t call them out when he was one of them.
    4) As for working with the county, IDK. SHS is, according to those I know, not very rescue friendly. And dismisses volunteers for speaking out against them.Council members and Animal Control Officers that I have attempted to contact,have been unwilling to listen to life/money saving alternatives (TNR,specifically)
    5) As for RTO rate improvements, SHS doesn’t post pictures of all the animals in the adoption area. Stray holding doesn’t get ANY pics posted. I was told, ” Why, Tami, do you want them going out to people that aren’t really the owners?” And ,” We don’t have time to take pics of ALL of them.” So , I guess the answer to your question is, not much. RTO rates have remained the same , or decreased , for the past 6 years.
    6) As for legal remedy- Who knows? But , I’m sure it would “force” SHS to kill more animals to pay off a lawsuit.
    I now fear that owner surrenders, always the first to be killed, will now have even less time.
    Maybe they can kill them in the parking lot to save space.(dripping sarcasm)

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      1. The good news is a neutral third party, local media,now has this info. I am looking to this as an oppurtunity to inform county leaders , and the public, that there ARE positive solutions.
        As for appealing the FOIA, not to my knowledge. Maybe the media can make this happen.

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  4. CHRISTIANSEN HMMMM. Could it be that you are LDS? If so you have humilated millions of good ppl with your actions. You do not belong among these good ppl. I am ashamed to admit that I am LDS with the likes of evil filth like you. God damn you!

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  5. I am one of several people who have volunteered, and when we started asking questions, we were told by SHS that our volunteer duties had been terminated! SHS stated they took in over 18,500 animals last year, but only about 3,400 were adopted. That is alot of poor animals that were killed. I personally think it is even more than that. Also none of the rescue groups will work with them anymore. When I asked Critter Connection, I was told that they didn’t like the way things were being handled at SHS. Just walk in the back of the building and see all the carriers that the poor animals were in before their death. Looked something like the Holocaust! Plus tell me why Mr. Christensen makes $91,000 a year to run a shelter? Wonder what the other full time people make? SHS doesn’t do alot of things to try and get pets adopted. Seems it is more of a business to only make money. I could go on with more things I observed, but the bottom line is we need to get those animals out of there into homes, rescue groups or foster homes before that start killing even more now. Inform the public of this, and make them aware that the animal they bring to the shelter will probably be dead in a few days. Furthermore, Mr. Christensen needs to get the hell out of that place, and go back where he came from. Bring someone in that actuals care about those animals, and can turn it into a no kill shelter!

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  6. In the case of the SHS impound, killing always seems to be the first method of choice as is evident by the kill statistics. Oh, that’s right, the shelter doesn’t allow those statistics to be made public. Their dismal failure at “maximizing opportunities for healthy and safe companions to find loving homes” would cause a crushing blow to their precious contribution base. I’m sure most folks wouldn’t give to a “Humane Society” that kills more than ¾ of everything that walks through its doors.

    If this were a business, a production facility for instance, the CEO would have been fired after 6 months on the job, not 6 YEARS!

    We know that SHS receives free “raw materials” each and everyday, delivered straight to their door. They receive tax subsidized contractual dollars per head from THREE municipalities. They receive thousands of dollars in contributions and fund raiser monies. They take in Pet store product sales and Pet adoption fees. Yet the end result of all this is that 3/4 of the “product” is literally burned (in the onsite crematorium) while only 1/4 of the “product” is marketed to the public solely through walk-in or token Pet Store adoptions. No other marketing techniques are used and no other outlets are sought.

    There is only so long you can sweep this mess under the rug and whitewash the sepulcher. I hope this is just the beginning of the unsealing of the crypt.

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    1. If this organization declares itself to be a Federal charitable organization with non-profit status, a 501, Federal law and IRS rules dictate that a charity MUST make available its BOOKS and FINANCIAL STATEMENTS to public inspection by appointment. Failure to comply is grounds to remove the 501, non-profit status granted by the Internal Revenue Service as a charitable organization.
      The only way they can seal off the records is to be completely privately funded, and not declare themselves a registered, tax deductible charity.

      http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/article/0,,id=96114,00.html
      Info regarding private foundations status.

      All tax exempt organizations are subject to state and federal filing requirements. Public disclosure is also a requirement to maintain that status.

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  7. There should really be a law prohibiting kill shelters from calling themselves “Humane Society” or “SPCA” or anything else that implies they are helping animals. If they adamantly refuse to stop killing, my own preference would be if they had to hang a sign on the front of the building that said “[name of city or county] Animal Killing Facility” and that all employees had to use that on their business cards and when telling people what they do for a living.

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  8. I have seen the mounds of pet supplies that people give to the shelter. I have no idea what happens to the stuff because I didn’t see the animals benefiting from them. I even suggested to turn their little store inside the shelter into a place for a cat play area, but was told no. They told me the store revenue was $85,000 a year. Bull crap! I have never observed anyone buying anything from there. But in return those poor cats are stuck in the metal cages will no room to move around in. They are never allowed to stretch their legs and play like a normal cat.

    Something needs to be done to end this place of death! I cried everytime I left that place. Close it down until they become a no-kill shelter. Take all the animals and find foster homes for them.

    I agree with Leslie about placing a sign on front of their building that states they are an Animal Killing Facility. The dog or cat you see today probably will not be there tomorrow – get out back in the ashes!

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  9. Oh and someone needs to investigate all of the grant money the shelter receives, for example they received $75,000 from Petsmart Charities. Also they get grant money for the number of volunteer hours they have. So what is the money used for? Sure isn’t used for the betterment of the animals there. The dogs are kept in kennels on cold and damp floors. It was so hot in the back where the animals where that the dogs were panting! I mentioned it to a staff member that no one looking for a pet would want to stay back there for any length of time looking because of it being so hot. Their reply was that it was because of their cooling system. Funny thing it sure was nice and cool up front where the offices are!

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  10. This information needs to be sent to Petsmart to let them know what type of organization they are supporting, especially the one in Spartanburg. Petsmart in Greer supports rescue groups that are no-kill!!!!

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  11. I am only one voice to speak out to try to help these animals. Gonna take alot more than just myself to end this unnecessary killing of animals that only want a chance to be loved! An attorney or someone in politics needs to help!

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  12. Please go to GuideStar(insert dot)com & put in Spartanburg Animal Welfare League-this is SHS. Pull up the 1090 form. Look how much money they took in 2009. Salaries paid $1,197,211. Gross receipts $2,104,532. YES that is MILLIONs of dollars! And the best they can do is kill almost 8 out of every 10 animals? And he(the Pres) wants tax payers to pick up the tab for extra kennel space to hold animals 2 extra days?Is anybody in touch with reality here?

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  13. We can all continue speaking about this urgent situation, but as they say action speaks louder than words! Words are not going to stop the killing.

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  14. Oct 17- Monday.Spartanburg County Council will be discussing recent events at Spartanburg Humane Society. Options to save money and lives will be presented. It would mean a lot to the animals if concerned citizens are willing to speak for them. Red armbands/shirts will identify those on the side of the voiceless. If you are unable to attend, you may consider sending a respectful note voicing your concerns.This could mean the beginning of positive changes for the animals of Spartanburg County.
    Below is a list of council members and contact info.
    dziegler@spartanburgcounty.org
    jhorton@spartanburgcounty.org
    mbrown@spartanburgcounty.org
    mbrown@spartanburgcounty.org
    dbritt@spartanburgcounty.org
    jhall@spartanburgcounty.org
    ddculbreth@spartanburgcounty.org
    rnutt@spartanburgcounty.org

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  15. I read yesbiscuit’s article, all the posts and then did my own independent research. All the information presented here on the yesbiscuit website is 100% accurate inspite of what Mr. Christiansen says. To publicize the horrible acts of SHS I also wrote a commentary, which I published in my animal advocacy magazine Critter/Greenville, SC. I also sent an e-mail to Mr. Christiansen and other managers at SHS informing them that I could no longer publish an ad in my magazine for them, that I considered it a conflict of interest.

    To answer some questions about how to hit SHS where they live so to speak do what you are doing here: speak out! Political advocacy is also an important tool. For example, when an animal advocate on-line chat group found many of PETA’s recnt actions hypocritical they banned them from the chat group. That is why I will no longer run any ad for SHS until I see real change in policy there i.e. full implementation of all the methods of No Kill as outlined by the No Kill Advocacy Center and Nathan J. Winograd.

    I will be there at the meeting on the 17th wearing a red arm band to speak for those who rely on us to defend them and to defend my article.

    Diana Riglet/Publisher-Editor Critter Magazine

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  16. Euthanizing pets is horrible. However the vet clinic will take you, your every dime and treat you like trash. The floor was dirty and the people behind the counter….ignored you. Not to tell someone to sign in.
    my dig was diagnosed with cancer she had a hernia! I was treated like dog poo. Questioned to death repeately. This dog has seen 3 vets and if she had not had surgery ~she would become very sick.
    Morons!

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  17. I’ve been horrified by the animal shelters in NYC and then I found this! Wow, it’s closer than I ever thought. I was considering volunteering at this shelter. This is a horrible problem nationwide! Anyone who posts and cross-posts on FB can tell you that! We treat our animals like spoiled bratty kids treat their toys they don’t want anymore…discard, destroy. It’s just wrong and it breaks my heart.

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  18. Thanks to this article I will not be taking the three kittens that I have to the shelter I was but not now who has the right to choose if an animal lives or dies they are beings to this just makes me sick bc I am an animal lover but this don’t surprise me an when I was in middle school they took my dogs bc they didn’t have tags but were very much so healthy an I called to check on them an they didn’t know Wat I was talking about so they probably killed them an I so sorry for that I loved my pepper an snuggles so all I have to say is they sick an something needs to be done

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  19. I lost my dog due to this law. My parent’s had given him away and he got away and was coming back. We were on vacation though and he got picked up while he was hanging around our house. Since he was microchipped they called us and left a message. We got the message on the third day and called to tell them we were on our way to pick him up. We were told ok, that he was waiting on us. We live less than 10 minutes away and we left the house immediately; when we got there we were told that they had decided to put him to sleep.

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    1. Lara Ann – please contact me. As of jan 7 , there is a new director. I’m told , she arees with the ideas that will promote life saving at SHS.

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  20. What is the income yearly of the Spartanburg humane society ??? How much of the donation goes to the shelter??? Why cant they have a trailer like these vets who give low cost shots at cvs and such??? Do the vets get paid for their work at SHC or do they do it for free???

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