Spartanburg Pound Back in the News

Sandy Christiansen,  director of the Spartanburg Humane Society (SHS) in South Carolina, has written an article for GoUpstate.com where he provides his pound’s 2010 statistics.  This is the first time the public has had access to these numbers as far as I know.  (There are some figures posted on the SHS website now but they were not there when I’ve checked in the past.)  That’s the end of the good news.

  • 2010 Total Intake:  18,195
  • 2010 RTO Rate:  3%
  • 2010 Kill Rate:  77%

If you haven’t already clicked through to the article to find the director’s explanation for his facility’s failing stats, I’ll give you three guesses as to who is at fault.  Here are some hints from the piece:

  • Pets allowed to roam free and stray from home
  • Unwanted litters
  • Costs, moving and “too much responsibility”
  • By the time the majority of the animals arrive at the shelter, we are unable to compensate for what they have not received in the past either medically, behaviorally, or both.

Have you figured out who the SHS director blames for his facility’s failure to save lives?  I knew you would.  But Mr. Christiansen also wants readers to know that they have come up with a justification for most of the pets they kill:

In fact, medical and behavioral issues represent 68 percent of dog euthanasia decisions. For cats, this percentage is 83 percent and includes those that are feral, or wild.

Wow.  Whereas no kill communities in Charlottesville, VA and Shelby Co, KY find that less than 10% of their shelter pets are medically hopeless and suffering or dogs deemed vicious with a poor prognosis for ever living safely with people, apparently Spartanburg sees things differently.  Almost all their pets must be killed due to medical issues or in consideration of the danger they present to society.  I guess anyone looking for a pet should steer clear of Spartanburg.

These statistics should not imply that all animals at the SHS are sick or aggressive.

Right.  Not ALL.  Just almost every single one.

If you are ready to add a pet to your life, adopt from the SHS or another adoption placement group. You will be amazed by the incredible animals you meet.

Hell, I’d be amazed if I met any pet at SHS who wasn’t medically hopeless and suffering or a danger to society.  Because it sounds like that’s mostly what they get there.  Which is bizarre, to put it mildly.

Also strange:  When I added up the numbers provided in the article, I came up with a discrepancy – specifically, 787 pets who appear to be unaccounted for.  I understand some number of pets might be listed as “on hand” at year’s end but not 787.  I contacted SHS for clarification on the status of these 787 pets but haven’t yet received a reply.  I will update this post if I do.

Local advocates have been circulating word of a public meeting of the Spartanburg County Council scheduled for October 17.  Public participation is always encouraged.  Unfortunately, I have seen some talk of bringing up mandatory spay-neuter (MSN).  MSN kills pets.  I hope that anyone considering speaking about MSN does their homework first.  MSN has never succeeded in significantly reducing the kill rate anywhere it’s been tried.  Ever.  In some cases, the killing has increased after MSN has been enacted.  A compassionate director willing to implement the programs of the No Kill Equation is what would save pets’ lives in Spartanburg Co, not MSN.  In fact, the programs of the No Kill Equation are the only programs that have created no kill communities throughout the country and MSN is not among them.

I contacted the Spartanburg County Council department head, Debbie Ziegler to get some specifics on the October 17 meeting.  Here is what she told me:

Yes, the next County Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 17th. I’m not sure it the Spartanburg Humane Society will be discussed at this time. The final agenda has not been set. An Ordinance is on the agenda relating to Animal Holding Period under Old Business and Public Hearing at the 5:30 p.m. meeting.

The meeting is held in County Council Chambers in the County Administration Building located at 366 North Church Street. You could speak during the public hearing if your comments are related to the draft Ordinance.

I’ve put up a copy of the draft Ordinance for anyone interested in reading. If you attend the meeting, please let us know how it goes.  I hope some pet advocates challenge the claim that almost all the pets in Spartanburg Co must be killed due to medical or behavioral considerations.  I’ve visited Spartanburg a number of times and the pets I’ve met there all appeared to fall within normal parameters.  That is, they wanted and deserved to live.

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18 Comments

  1. KateH

     /  October 3, 2011

    Uhmm, since they don’t print out what section d actually says, are readers just supposed to assume this motion means they’ll bring themselves in line with state law of a 5 day holding period?

    Reply
  2. mikken

     /  October 3, 2011

    An RTO of THREE PERCENT??? What the hell? You have to actively discourage people from looking for their pets to get a rate that low.

    Unbelievable.

    Reply
    • spaycritter

       /  October 3, 2011

      mikken ,
      “It’s a great day in South Carolina”, sorry. Had the 3 day hold controversy not come out,I suspect, the kill numbers would NEVER have been made public. I’ve been asking for 2 years.
      None of the strays are listed on the website. I recently heard of someone who went there looking for their lost lab. After being told she was there, they then asked for “proof” of ownership. Ummm, he went in ,gave a description and last known location. Then , after an hour or so, was told “the vet was examing her” . The owner, not knowing why , asked to see the dog.Another period of time passed. Still no word. I have no idea the outcome.
      Shirley,
      thank you for sharing this.I have been told, someone has been allotted time to speak for the animals.As anyone can see, the numbers are getting worse. And yes, I am fearful that MSN may come up.Not by the person I know, but by SHS or Council. SHS appears to be laying the groundwork for “more money,bigger building”. Money will be the issue!
      He never addresses the part about knowing and breaking the law . And he and another of his staff serve on the board of SCACCA- South Carolina Animal Care and Control Association.
      Below is a list of council members and contact info.
      dziegler@spartanburgcounty.org
      jhorton@spartanburgcounty.org
      mbrown@spartanburgcounty.org
      dbritt@spartanburgcounty.org
      jhall@spartanburgcounty.org
      ddculbreth@spartanburgcounty.org
      rnutt@spartanburgcounty.org
      omintz@spartanburgcounty.org
      Mintz,Brown and Culbreth are serving on an ad hoc committee to specifically deal with this.

      Reply
  3. Dot Lirby

     /  October 3, 2011

    I don’t know what to say. I’m very sad, but I want to follow the comments in this matter.

    Reply
  4. This kind of news is too common with kill shelters. They want you to believe that they get mostly sick and dangerous pets and have to kill most of them…

    Hammond, LA – Monday, July 12, 2010 (about a 90% kill rate): “Tangipahoa Parish residents surrendered more than 1,100 unwanted house pets and strays to the parish’s Animal Control facility and officers last month, Burgess said Friday.

    That represents the highest intake month ever for the parish’s animal control.

    Previously, the highest intake on record was around 800 pets, said Chip Fitz, animal control director.

    More than 900 animals had to be euthanized in June due to poor health or aggressive behavior — a statistic Fitz says is absolutely heartbreaking.

    Fewer than 50 animals had to be euthanized solely to make space for new intakes.

    Most of these animals were absolutely unwanted and uncared for, he said.”

    http://www.hammondstar.com/articles/2010/07/12/community/community_news/678.txt

    Reply
  5. Jennifer

     /  October 3, 2011

    I would like to know what shelters consider medical issues that would cause them to euthanize an animal. Do shelters have any written guidelines regarding this? Is there a way to get access to these guidelines?

    Reply
    • spaycritter

       /  October 3, 2011

      My experience is, causes in hi kill shelters are: URI,Kennel Cough, ear mites/infection, flea allergies on up to heartworm positive, Felv/Fiv( if cat has been selected to move to adoptions), over/under weight, too young, too old, dental disease. Treatable or not, if it CAN be listed as medical, then it can be used as a reason(excuse) to kill.
      As for guidelines, they appear to be subjective. it took 2 years to get the kill rates. I ‘m not counting on seeing any written guidelines published any time soon.
      I urge any ,and all, to post comments on the goupstate.com page of the article.

      Reply
  6. John Kelly

     /  October 3, 2011

    As leader of the South Carolina No-Kill Alliance, I have asked to address the County Council at the October 17th meeting. I have not heard of any proposals for MSN. I plan to present a series of proposals and ordinances that are all right out of the no-kill playbook. I will have ten minutes to make a general verbal presentation, and I will have a hard copy presentation to give to each Council Member containing more in-depth content. I am asking that any Spartanburg resident who is concerned about the killing at Spartanburg Humane Society come out wearing either a red shirt or a red armband to show your support. A of now, I have not been confirmed to speak, nor do I know if I will speak to the full Council or to a Sub-committee. I will post this info as it becomes available. Those who wish to follow our progress can join our Facebook group. Just look up SC No-kill Alliance. We appreciate all the support we can get to stop the killing.

    Reply
  7. Diana Riglet

     /  October 14, 2011

    Spaycritter & John K.:

    Horrible. Keep fighting and get an animal loving lawyer involved. He or she may be able to get things done more quickly.

    John, I think that you may want to e-mail a copy of the No Kill Primer to the S’burg Council members in advance of the meeting, especially since you may not get to speak at the meeting. That way at least the information will be in their hands in advance of the meeting. I can do this for you if you like.

    You may also want to give them stats on MSN, there are many examples. Los Angeles County is a good one. You can start to nip that argument in the bud. MSN will up animal control intakes and insure more animal lives are lost. Down with MSN!

    I will be at the council meeting to support you and your group and to write about the meeting in the upcoming issue of Critter Magazine. Oh and FYI I hear that Mr. Christiansen isn’t very happy with me or Critter’s coverage of the goings on at SHS.

    I say bring it!!

    Diana Riglet
    No Kill Advocate
    Publisher Critter Magazine

    Reply
    • tami

       /  October 14, 2011

      Diana,
      I have been fighting this fight for 2 years. I have sent NK info to council , SHS board members ,and anyone I felt might listen.
      Top secret , behind the scenes negotiations are going on as I write.
      And you’re right, exposing some of the goings on at SHS have made for a very unhappy director. Keep up the good work,
      Tami

      Reply
  8. If I may, I want to clarify about any negotiations that are going on at the moment. I have been in touch with both SHS and County Council. There are no deals being made behind the scenes. What is happening is that we all have a vested interest in this matter, and we are all trying to find the best way to work this out together. This is simply nothing more than good business practice. If I thought for one minute that something sinister was going on, my approach would be very different. There is nothing “Top Secret” going on to my knowledge. I am asking that everyone just wait and see what Council decides to do with the package of info I am presenting. Our objective is to save animals, nothing more, and we do not need to be sidetracked by speculations that make the situation more difficult.

    Reply
    • If no county control animals are to be allowed in , and owner surrenders are not accepted after Saturday, what exactly is the shelter going to do ? What purpose will they serve? I agree, a ploy to extort more money.

      Reply
      • Mea Culpa, I misread the statement. Residents can not turn in “strays” after Saturday. But , still……

  9. Wow.. it goes from bad to worse.

    Reply
  10. Tonight, The SC No-Kill Alliance introduced the first No-Kill reform package ever in SC. The Animal Care and Protection Act was presented to Spartanburg County Council in tonight’s general meeting. The public applauded as we asked Council to “dismantle the killing machine” by approving the Act and instituting a TNR program for feral cats.

    All of this comes on the heels of a press release from SHS that it will take in no more strays until the county pays what SHS says is money due them. We hope that Council will involve the alliance in future discussions on the direction and future of animal care in Spartanburg County.

    Reply
  11. missjanenc

     /  April 20, 2012

    Christiansen is no longer at the SHS. He got a job with the ASPCA.

    Reply
    • spaycritter

       /  April 20, 2012

      I guess a $17K donation to “lobbying” buys a position in the org doing the lobbying.

      Reply

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