Changes at Marion Co Animal Shelter in SC

Some of you may remember when a South Carolina politician, Kent Williams, adopted a German Shepherd bitch from the Marion Co Animal Shelter in order to breed her (in violation of state law). In 2008, after the bitch was left to roam the streets regularly and while in heat, she became pregnant and Senator Williams decided he didn’t want to deal with the problem he created so called Animal Control to pick her up when she was due to whelp. As this story unfolded, it shed light on the terrible conditions at the shelter.

A group called Paws to the Rescue took over the shelter from the county in October 2008:

Before Paws to the Rescue took over for the county, the shelter had no heat, animals turned in to the shelter were disappearing and often, they were left with no food or water.

[…]

The group has installed heaters in the dog runs and cat room, improved the living conditions for the animals turned in and provided medical care such as vaccinations and spaying and neutering of all cats and dogs adopted from the shelter. All dogs are tested for heartworm, and emergency care and treatment can begin right at the shelter if local veterinarians’ offices are closed.

Adult dogs and puppies are now kept separately to help guard against the risk of illnesses such as Parvo. The adult dogs are also allowed outside to play in large grassy areas while their kennels are cleaned every day.

“Mentally that’s very good for the dogs,” [executive director Jen] Nall said. “It keeps them from going cage crazy.”

The group also keeps male and female dogs separated to guard against fighting and more unwanted puppies.

Paws to the Rescue has also been able to team up with several rescue groups through out the county to transport dogs to shelters that have adopters waiting to provide homes for the unwanted animals. This weekend they will transport 20 dogs and puppies to rescues in the Northeast.

Volunteer Irene Miller uses Web sites such as PetFinder.com and Facebook to spread the word about the animals available for adoption from the shelter.
“I Facebook, I Tweet, I foster dogs,” Miller said. “I’ll do anything I can.”

All sounds good. But the article also goes over the shelter’s 2009 kill numbers:

“We brought in 2,700 animals last year, which is two and one half the amount we thought we’d bring in,” Nall said. “We were able to get 750 either adopted or to rescue.”

That’s a kill rate of roughly 73%. I hope the community works with the shelter in 2010 in order to dramatically decrease the kill rate. So many positive changes have taken place already but if the end result is that nearly 3 out of every 4 pets entering the shelter wind up in the landfill, that’s not “change we can believe in”.

As for Senator Kent Williams, he won re-election in 2008 and his current term ends in 2012.

Marion County Receives Offer to Take Over Shelter

SC State Senator Kent Williams’ local shelter (where he dumped his German Shepherd in March after allowing her to become pregnant while repeatedly roaming loose) has been advertising for someone to take over the shelter. A group called Paws to the Rescue who pulls dogs from the Marion County Animal Shelter regularly has submitted a proposal. The County Administrator apparently has some quibbles over the county’s financial responsibilities as outlined in the proposal. The one and only offer to take over the shelter has been sent to a committee for further review. yawn. I only hope some action is taken sooner than in the Kent Williams case – which was never, actually.

Open Letter Regarding Senator Williams and SC Shelter Requests Help

These are the questions I will be mailing to the appropriate parties concerning the Kent Williams GSD case. Anyone is welcome to copy these questions into his/her own letter:

  • Did Senator Williams violate the laws of Marion County and/or the State of South Carolina when he failed to spay a female German Shepherd whom he adopted from the Marion County Animal Shelter – his local shelter – in 2007?
  • Did Senator Williams pay his local shelter’s adoption fee, which he must have known the shelter relied upon for desperately needed funding, when he adopted this German Shepherd? Did Senator Williams pay the adoption fees for any other dogs he adopted from his local shelter?
  • Did Senator Williams violate the laws of Marion County and/or the State of South Carolina when he repeatedly allowed this German Shepherd Dog to run at large?
  • Was this dog vaccinated against Rabies? If not, did Senator Williams violate the laws of Marion County and/or the State of South Carolina when he failed to vaccinate this German Shepherd Dog against Rabies?
  • Did Senator Williams exercise due diligence in preventing unwanted breeding with the female German Shepherd whom he knew was not spayed? Did he provide safe and humane confinement for the dog when she was not directly supervised by a responsible person?
  • Did Senator Williams, faced with the imminent birth of puppies from his pregnant German Shepherd Dog, behave in a responsible manner when he called Animal Control in March 2008, asking them to pick the dog up and return her to his local shelter which the Senator must have known had deplorable conditions inappropriate for the birth of puppies and a policy of euthanizing homeless pets?

The South Carolina Code of Laws regarding dogs can be read here and regarding Rabies vaccination here.

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Just received this in my inbox:

PLEASE CROSSPOST WIDELY

Please help this overcrowded shelter!
Oconee County Animal Control is rescue friendly.

Please save one today!

Oconee County Animal Control
321 Camp Road
Walhalla, SC 29691

864-638-8798

Hours of Operation
Monday-Friday
10am to 5PM

ocas@netmds.com

jaimee@all4mutz.com

There were also photos and descriptions of a number of really sweet looking dogs who need homes but I’ll let you search for yourself if interested. This is their website:

http://www.oconeepets.com/

More on Marion County Shame


South Carolina State Senator Kent Williams violated state and county laws when he failed to spay a German Shepherd bitch he adopted from the Marion County Animal Shelter – a kill shelter – last year. He said he intended to breed her but when she was bred (presumably to an unknown sire she encountered while roaming the streets) he waited until just before she was ready to whelp before having animal control pick her up and bring her back to the kill shelter in March 2008. The Senator has not been charged to my knowledge.

Coincidentally (I guess), the Marion County Council held a meeting regarding the dreadful conditions at the shelter around this same time. From the minutes:

Vice Chairwoman Smith requested the Clerk to read the report Committee No. 2, which met on Thursday, March 20, 2008, at 5:30 P.M., at the Marion County Administration Building, with Chairwoman Smith, Mrs. Rogers, and Mr. Shaw, County Administrator and Clerk to Council. The Committee met with four members of the Humane Society, which addressed their concerns in regards to the Marion County Animal Shelter. Mr. Eleanor Kitchens, Ms. Marjorie Byrd, Ms. Pat Koch and Mr. Bob Blue. The organization named a few main priorities for the Marion County Animal Shelter: They are as follows:

1. A dated digital photo identification number for every animal taken in, noting where they were picked up.

2. No wetting of animals during cage cleaning.

3. Heating and cooling in all areas.

4. Standard immunizations on all puppies when old enough.

5. A person in charge who has the background and knowledge to run a shelter.

6. Workers who will do all they can to work with rescue groups so the fewest number of animals are put down.

Mr. Bob Blue told the committee that one of the Human [sic] Society main objectives is to control the animal population of Marion County by offering a cash rebate of $40 to residents who provides proof that their animals were spayed or neutered.
Chairwoman Smith emphasized to the Human [sic] Society members that if they witness any wrongdoing at the shelter to contact Mr. Harper.

Yes Mr. Harper, I believe I will be contacting you.

This story includes a comment from a reader who claims to be a former employee of the shelter where Williams left his pregnant German Shepherd to (quite possibly) die. She describes interactions she had with Williams regarding a previous dog. If the account is accurate, clearly this is not a temporary lapse in judgment type situation with the GSD but rather a pattern of troubling behavior. And the irony of Williams’ Oprah connection is not lost on me. Oprah recently did her part to shed light on the miserable lives of dogs in puppy mills and vowed to adopt all her future dogs from shelters. Too bad she doesn’t make it down to the Marion County Animal Shelter very often – we might see another expose.

There is a lame-o excuse from the Senator here but my favorite quote from him on the subject is this: “As a citizen, I exercised my right to surrender the animal to the shelter.” Senator Williams: Exercise this.

Please let these people know how you feel about this story and request the media to cover it:

Senator Kent M. Williams
602 Gressette Bldg.
Columbia, SC 29201

(803) 212-6008
E-Mail Address: WILLIAMSK@scsenate.org
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Marion County Animal Shelter
123 Dog and Cat Ct.
Mullins, SC 29574

(843) 423-8370
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Timothy Harper, County Administrator
P.O. Box 183
Marion, SC 29571-0183

(843) 423-3904

(Kent Williams is the Deputy County Administrator)
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The State Newspaper – Columbia, SC
Send a story idea: state@thestate.com
Send a letter to the editor: stateeditor@thestate.com