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?