The Spartanburg pound announced yesterday afternoon it would no longer accept strays from animal control due to what it claims are unpaid fees owed to it by the county.
The total outstanding balance is almost $110,000, the society’s director Sandy Christiansen said.
The county has traditionally paid the society $56,250 per month for the housing and care of stray animals, but this past July, the society raised its monthly fee by $5,000, Christiansen said.
Then, in September, it asked the county to pay an additional $17,000 a month when the shelter was forced to extend its hold times for stray animals from three days to five days.
Remember when the media reported SHS was killing pets in violation of state law by not holding them for the required 5 days and SHS was clutching its pearls, declaring that vast numbers of pets were held longer than the county’s 3 day hold period and wondering why anyone would think they were killing everything after 3 days? From the SHS statement at the time:
Initial media attention and resulting public speculation has focused solely on stray animals who may have been euthanized after 3 days. We would also point out that thousands of stray animals have been adopted on day 4 as well.
If it’s accurate that “thousands” of strays were routinely being held for longer than 3 days already, why does SHS suddenly need an additional $17k a month to hold pets longer than 3 days now?
The county’s side of the story:
The county hasn’t paid for October nor has it paid any rate increase since July, Christian said, and the county council said it has no plans to do so.
“We’ve told the humane society we’ve budgeted the money that we can contribute [and no more,] so that’s where it stand right now,” said Jeff Horton, the chairman of the Spartanburg County Council.
Horton said the county never received a bill for October or either misplaced it, but he says the county will pay the $56,250 on Tuesday, though it’s unclear whether that will be enough for the society to resume services.
And while the dispute goes on, it’s the pets of Spartanburg Co who suffer:
According to the Office of Environmental Enforcement, strays picked up in the meantime would be kept in animal control vehicles for up 24 hours, which is allowed by state law. The animals would be given food, water and bathroom breaks.
Just in case anyone was wondering where the Spartanburg pound’s priorities lie, there you have it. They are willing to let pets sit in AC vehicles for up to 24 hours while they attempt to collect funds – not the agreed upon amount, mind you, but an increased amount they set themselves – from the county.
Last night, the county council received a proposal from the SC No Kill Alliance at its public meeting. From the press release:
The SC No-Kill Alliance presented Spartanburg County Council with a package of recommended ordinances and programs to reform the county’s animal care system during tonight’s Council meeting.
John Kelly, Spokesperson for the Alliance, called on Council to “dismantle the Killing Machine,” his reference to the way animal care is currently handled in Spartanburg County.
“When, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, 80% of all animals going into the system are being killed, there is a need for reform. It does not have to be this way,” Kelly said.
The Animal Care and Protection Act, part of the measure introduced tonight, calls for mandatory reform to the animal care system, which Kelly believes will allow for more animals to be saved.
“This package has at its heart four objectives – to save the lives of healthy and treatable animals, to save taxpayer money, to improve public health and safety, and to improve our citizens’ satisfaction with county government and the animal care system in Spartanburg County,” Kelly said.
SHS says it plans to end its relationship with the county within the next year. Sounds like an excellent time for Spartanburg Co to discuss joining this century and saying goodbye to the old catch-and-kill model of “sheltering”. I hope the county gives the proposal from the Alliance due consideration.