"I love my dog. She's a great dog." - Kathryn Larkin

South Carolina:  Five years ago this dog was in a shelter.  Kathryn Larkin selected her for adoption, saving her life.  Ms. Larkin named her Maggie.  This month, Ms. Larkin was returning from a walk with Maggie when she fainted in her carport.  The 83 year old woman hit her head and was out of sight of any neighbors.  Maggie ran to the street:

Aiken Public Safety Animal Control Officer Jeff Wilson got a call that a leashed dog was loose in the area. He got a glimpse of Maggie a block away from her home, and when he spotted her, she darted toward the back of the complex and led him to the townhouse.

“When I pulled up in the driveway, I saw the dog in the driveway,” Jeff said. “When I approached the dog and came to this point is when I saw the victim laying by the tire.”

Kathyrn’s not sure how long she was on the ground, but she was already feeling sick and cold. “My legs collapsed on me, and I went down and smashed my face. Next thing I knew a man was coming up the driveway, and he said, ‘The dog just saved your life’.”

What a wonderful chain of events and people, including the good Samaritan who called AC to report a loose dog with a leash attached and the ACO who responded promptly.  Some shelter directors might look at Maggie as a plain-brown-wrapper dog, unlikely to be selected for adoption and thus denied a spot on the adoption floor.  In many shelters, she could easily end up on the kill list if unadopted after a few days.  I’m glad we never had to find out how this world might have been different without Maggie and Ms. Larkin.

Dog’s Slow, Agonizing Heat Death is a Matter of Courtesy

You know how sometimes you read a story and find yourself getting madder and madder with every new detail?  This is one of those.

Charles Bell allegedly put his large black dog in a metal wire crate outside in the direct sun with no water last month in Florence, SC.  An air conditioning repairman was working at a home nearby and saw the dog suffering in the heat.  He knocked on the door to ask if the dog could be moved to the shade but got the door slammed in his face.  He was called back to the area for work two days later and the dog was still there so he called animal control.  When authorities arrived at the home, the dog was dead.

There is a photo of the dead dog here but if you don’t wish to look, I’ll tell you the reason I’m sharing it is because the photo shows that there is a regular outdoor dog kennel with food and water bowls inside right next to the crate.  It would appear that the owners had means to contain the dog humanely right in their own yard but chose not to do so.

In addition to the statement from the air conditioning repairman, two other witnesses signed sworn statements verifying the abuse this dog suffered.

Animal Control officers appeared before a Florence city Judge to get an arrest warrant for Bell. The judge denied the arrest warrant, but did issue a courtesy summons. Bell was served with the courtesy summons July 6.

Had an arrest warrant been issued, Bell would have been taken immediately into custody. Instead, the courtesy summons informed him of the charges he faces and the date on which he is scheduled to appear in court.

A courtesy summons.  Well, isn’t that nice?

Mr. Bell is scheduled to enter a courtesy plea in courtesy court on July 23.  If convicted, he could receive a $500 courtesy fine or up to 30 days in courtesy jail.

Kudos to Florence AC for taking this matter seriously.  Too bad they got a judge who apparently considers it a courtesy to hold someone like Mr. Bell accountable.

SC Low Cost Heartworm Clinic April 8

From my inbox, courtesy of the Spartanburg Humane Society in SC:

$10 heartworm clinic:

4/8 – 1:30 – 4:30 pm

Heartworm tests and brief exams for dog & puppies 8 weeks and up for the low price of $10. Inexpensive heartworm preventative & flea/tick products will be available.  All dogs must be on a leash.  No appointments necessary. First come, first served.

The Spartanburg Humane Society
150 Dexter Road
Spartanburg, SC 29303

Additional info here.  There is another clinic scheduled for April 24.

I’ve posted on heartworm dosages for dogs here.

SC Pitbull News

Tragedy: A 65 year old Lee Co woman who was feeding a relative’s chained dogs got attacked and killed by one of them – a Pitbull. The other chained dogs in the yard were Beagles and Huskies.


A TV station in Charlotte, NC (close to York Co, SC) did an investigative piece on chained Pitbulls and their living conditions in York Co. Video included:

[A] reported owner of seven pits, was charged with assault and battery today after attacking our news photographer. We discovered that 27-year-old Eric Martin has a record that includes a criminal domestic violence charge. When we broadcast this story, he was being held at the York County jail with no bond because of an outstanding warrant from another law agency.


Sad news on most of the dogs seized in the recent York Co dogfighting case:

Eleven of the 13 dogs deputies found in February near a pit used to fight dogs have been euthanized for humane reasons, said Dr. Sonya McCathey, a veterinarian with York County Animal Control.

The other two dogs were released to a rescue group, she said.


Finally, some very good news on the Pitbulls dumped by a breeder at a Greenville kill shelter:

Less than a week after a U-Haul truck dumped more than 20 pit bulls at the Greenville County Animal Care Services shelter, the dogs have found new homes.
Shelter manager Shelly Simmons said more than 21 families came in after the story ran on WYFF News 4 and WYFF4.com on Monday.
“We had many other inquiries … over the phone and we’ve had several rescue agencies come forward and say that they’ll take what doesn’t get adopted,” Simmons said.

SC Red Cross Shelters Won’t Allow Pets of Fire Evacuees

Thousands of people have been evacuated due to wildfires in the Myrtle Beach area of SC. The Red Cross has set up shelters but, apparently learning nothing from Katrina, they don’t take pets:

Pets are not allowed in the Red Cross shelters, however, arrangements are being made with Horry County Humane Society to bring in a mobile trailer with individual cages to house pets.

It’s only April but already too hot to leave pets in the car:

Several residents headed to the North Myrtle Beach Fitness and Aquatic Center with their pets in tow, but left that shelter after learning they couldn’t keep their pets there.

“There wasn’t anyone left when they told us we couldn’t have animals,” said Sharon Slater of North Myrtle Beach.

Many residents are keeping their pets in their vehicle or walking them outside The House of Blues.

I am in the midlands (not near the fires) of SC but if you have been evacuated and need assistance with your pets, please contact me. I will try to help in any way I can.

This post will be updated if I come across additional news on the shelter situation.

UPDATE: Various messages on Twitter about places to stay that accept pets. Also, Google maps on affected areas.

BSL Proposal in Florence, SC: From the Mouths of Babes

In Florence, SC the Buttinsky Neighbor has made her presentation to the county council for a ban on “pitbull type dogs”:

Ernestine Haselden spoke Thursday on behalf of a group of Scranton residents who have said they worry a group of dogs in the neighborhood will get loose and hurt someone.

Have they gotten loose before?  Have they bitten anyone?  I don’t see any mention of that.  Maybe Ms. Haselden would like to ban some guy’s ax, locked away in a tool shed, because who knows, maybe one day someone will break into that shed and take the ax on a killing rampage.  It could happen.  People have used axes as weapons in the past.  Do we just have to sit around and wait for the next Lizzie Borden massacre before we take action?  Ban baby, Ban!

Oh and while we’re busy butting in to our neighbors’ business:

Haselden also presented a model of an animal control law that would also cover incessant barking, waste and odor, licensing, and a requirement for owners of dangerous animals to hold a $100,000 insurance policy.

What is this – a cranky “There outta be a law!” free-for-all?  

Ruh-roh, Common Sense Alert:

A group of Southside Middle School students made a rebuttal to Haselden’s presentation. Teacher Brian Harvey, who owns two pit bulls as pets, said the request for a ban on the dogs is the result of a “severe generalization” and that pit bulls are used for search-and-rescue operations and as therapy dogs at hospitals.

The students proposed implementing canine safety education programs in schools, offering responsible canine ownership classes to pet owners, and adopting stronger laws on the city and county levels.

“Pit bulls are no more inherently dangerous to people than any other breed of dog,” student Emily Nance told council.

While the article doesn’t state clearly what the council’s decision or next step may be, the owner of the “pitbull type dogs” seems upbeat:

Gordon Williams, Haselden’s neighbor who owns the dogs in question, said he was pleased with the “good outcome” following all the presentations.

“(The dogs are) like my children,” he said.

I hear ya.

Action Alert for SC Pet Owners

The SC Legislature is continuing to work on S0223 – a bill which amounts to extortion of pet owners accused (not convicted, mind you) of animal cruelty in the state. A few changes have been made to the language since I first blogged on it, but the substance remains the same:
Anyone charged with animal cruelty or dogfighting (Note – this latter is a presumption on my part. The bill states “Chapter 24 of Title 16” but there is no such Chapter. Chapter 27 of Title 16 is the Animal Fighting and Baiting Act and since dogs are routinely seized in those cases, my guess is that “Chapter 24” is a typo.) and whose pets have been seized can be charged a monthly fee by the organization housing the pets. Specifically:

The court shall set the amount of funds necessary for thirty days’ care after taking into consideration all of the facts and circumstances of the case, including the need to care for and provide for the animal pending the disposition of the litigation, the recommendation of the custodian of the animal, the estimated cost of caring for and providing for the animal, and the defendant’s ability to pay.

For each 30 day period the case remains unresolved, the fees are automatically renewed. The defendant must pay the court determined fees every 30 days.

  • If the defendant can’t come up with the money each month, he loses rights of ownership to his pets. The custodian is then allowed to adopt them out or kill them as they see fit.
  • If the defendant’s case eventually results in a not guilty determination, he still has to pay all the fees, current through the day he was cleared of charges. (If the custodian hasn’t withdrawn every last penny from the account, the defendant can get a refund of any leftover funds.) If he can’t come up with the money, he loses his pets. The custodian is then allowed to adopt them out or kill them as they see fit.
  • And of course, if the defendant is ultimately found guilty and has been paying the monthly fees all along, he loses rights of ownership to his pets. The custodian is then allowed to adopt them out or kill them as they see fit.

Wait, there’s more! Now how much would you pay?

Any person violating the laws in relation to cruelty to animals may be arrested and held, without warrant, in the same manner as in the case of persons found breaking the peace.

And as a special bonus:

Individuals from humane type groups can be deputized with the power to arrest without warrant, seize animals and take custody of those animals. Then you gotta pay ’em.

For an idea of what the courts deem a reasonable fee for seized dogs, we can look at the recent Wilkes Co, NC case where 127 Pitbulls were seized. In that case, the fee for 60 days worth of “care” for the dogs was $53,000.

I’m not sure where the bar has to be set these days in order to motivate pet owners to take action but this bar’s in the dirt. Contact your elected representatives and let them know, politely and respectfully, that this bill is wrong for South Carolina:

Members of the House

Members of the Senate

Senator Lourie
601 Gressette Bldg.
Columbia, SC 29201

e-mail: JBL@scsenate.org
Phone: (803) 212-6116

SC Bill Helps Battered Women and Their Pets

When faced with a crisis, it seems normal to me to cling to our family/loved ones and our home. But when staying at home becomes part of the crisis, some pet owners hold on to their loved ones – including their pets – even more. We saw this during Katrina when some owners refused to evacuate because the shelters would not accept their pets. Lesson learned and many emergency shelters set up during post-Katrina storms allowed pets. The reasons battered women stay in their homes are more complex but similarly, they sometimes don’t want to go to a shelter which requires them to leave their pets in a violent home. A South Carolina bill addresses this issue:

Under the bill, abused women seeking temporary restraining orders against abusive husbands, boyfriends and fathers of their children could ask a Family Court judge for custody of a pet, even if the abuser owns the pet.


“It’s something I feel we’ve needed for years,” said Nancy Barton, executive director of Sistercare, an organization that offers a variety of services for battered women and their children in the Columbia area. “We hear from women who say, ‘I need to leave, but if I do, I know he’ll kill my dog or my cat.’”

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 71 percent of pet owners entering domestic-violence shelters report that their batterer had threatened, injured or killed family pets.

Maine, New York and Vermont have enacted legislation to strengthen domestic-violence protective orders to include pets.

The bill being considered in South Carolina would apply to all kinds of pets, including horses and livestock.


“If there’s anything we can do to help lower the barriers that prevent women from seeking help, let’s do it,” [Vicki] Bourus [director of the S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault] said. “We’re not reaching enough of them as it is. Many of them just won’t leave those pets. And think of how helpless an animal is in the hands of an ill-intended person.”

Nationally, an increasing number of shelters for abused women have added kennels or created animal foster care programs in an effort to protect victims.

Read the full article here and don’t miss the comments underneath from Idiot McStupidTalk and Friends.

If you are a SC resident, contact your representative to voice support for House bill 3117:

Sponsor: Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter

SC House of Representatives

SC BSL Proposal: Buttinsky Neighbor vs. Those Meddling Kids

Last month, I blogged about someone in Florence Co, SC who doesn’t like her neighbor’s “Pitbull type dogs” and so is requesting a breed (what breed?) ban. The Nosy Neighbor was scheduled to speak at the Florence Co Council meeting on March 5th but apparently bailed at the last minute and the issue has been rescheduled for the next meeting on April 2, 2009. The middle school students who were prepared to present a case opposing BSL have moved their presentation to April 2nd as well. It sounds like the kids have done their homework (ha) and will have a good anti-BSL argument while encouraging responsible pet ownership and education. Yay meddling kids! I’m rooting for you.

One Person Requests BSL in Florence Co, SC

Dear Hand of Fate,

Please don’t let me end up being a crackpot old lady who shakes her cane at the town council, whining things like, “There outta be a law!” while dragging my pantyhose around my ankles and pinning together the neckline of my chicken print dress because the top button just isn’t high enough for me. Not that I know anyone like that. I’m just sayin’.

Ernestine Haselden, who lives on Railroad Avenue, said the person who lives behind her has four or five “pit bull-type dogs” who charge at her fence “just as hard as they can to get to me.”

She asked council members to consider an ordinance that would ban pit bull-type dogs as well as any other breeds they see fit. She said that if any pets are grandfathered in, the owners should have to hold a $100,000 liability insurance policy on the animals.

Most people living around her are elderly, she said.

“We should be able to live our last years in some sort of peace and tranquility in our own yards, not bothering anybody else,” she said.

Where to begin. OK, in whose judgment are these “four or five” dogs deemed pitbull types? (Sub-question: What is a pitbull type dog?) Can you please describe exactly what you mean when you say they are charging the fence and how is it you’ve determined they are trying to “get to” you? Could it possibly be that these dogs are just saying hello or even welcoming you home? Or perhaps they are guarding their property perimeter and warning you to stay out of their yard? (btw, they used to have a name for those type of dogs – I think they called them GOOD.)

Moving right along, why ask the town council to ban the entire, albeit unspecified, breed? Are these 4 or 5 dogs representative of some conspiracy? Do you think their brethren might be out there somewhere, perhaps in their own fenced yards, working on The Master Plan? And since we’re banning indiscriminatorily, I guess we might as well throw in “any other breeds they see fit”. I mean heck, why not, you don’t want to have to break out the Banning Wand twice in one lifetime.

I got bit by a dog when I was a kid. It was a white German Shepherd – or maybe I should say “German Shepherd type” (I wanna show the council that I’m hip to crackpot old lady lingo). So obviously all those Shepherd types should be banned. My high school friend’s dog always barked at me when I came over to visit. She was a mixed breed. We should prolly ban those types too. There were three Pomeranian types who used to chase me and grab onto my pants legs when I lived in a duplex. Ban. Oh and there’s a big dog who gives me a funny look when I drive past him every morning on the way to work. I don’t know what kind he is but let’s add him to the list. Because I really think that I should be able to drive to work in some kind of peace which obviously I can not achieve with some dog looking at me every morning.

This has got me thinking: Maybe we should ban the owners of these type dogs too. What right does anyone have to keep a pet in their own fenced yard when that dog is free to give me any old look it pleases just because I happen to pass by on my morning commute? This nonsense has got to stop! There outta be a law!

Town of Scranton, SC:

Address: 1818 US Highway 52
P. O. Box 279
Scranton, SC 29591
Telephone: 843-389-2222
Fax: 843-389-0636

Scranton’s elected officials:
Mayor Pro Tem Thomas Knotts and Council Members

Florence County Council Chairman K.G. “Rusty” Smith:
Phone: 843-210-7368

Address: P. O. Box 369, Lake City, SC 29560

If you are a resident of Florence County and you want to appear before the council, ya hafta ask in advance:

The written request should be sent to Connie Y. Haselden, Clerk to County Council, 180 N. Irby St., MSC-G, Florence, SC 29501. The request can also be emailed to clerktocouncil@florenceco.org or faxed to (843) 665-3042.

By gosh by golly – that last name looks familiar…

Seriously folks, I don’t know a single soul involved in these shenanigans but this good ol’ boy Southern tradition thang ain’t funny. We’re not backwards people here in South Carolina. Most of us are normal, compassionate folks who love pets and love our property rights. Most of us don’t harass our neighbors or threaten them with the Law of Nepotism. We just never seem to make the national news. Now’s our chance. Let’s answer one person’s request for a bad law that has been proven not to work with some polite and respectful voices of reason.