To address recent county enforcement of SOP’s at the county shelter:
We are proud to be the voice of the homeless animals in Marlboro County. And as such, we speak up for them when they are mistreated, abandoned, forgotten about, sick, injured, etc. Part of that involves advocating for what is in the animals’ best interest and care in operations of the Marlboro County Animal Shelter from which we have saved over 1200 cats and dogs annually via our Rescue and Transport Program. Because of that success, no adoptable animal has had to be euthanized in the last two years at the county shelter. In addition, in 2016, the Humane Society provided all the food for the cats and dogs in the shelter and until recently, our volunteers managed every aspect of cat care at the shelter. We also cover any medical needs that county shelter animals need including emergency surgery, heartworm treatment, testing, antibiotics, booster vaccines, etc. Our volunteers are at the shelter twice daily to administer prescribed medications, drive animals to and from vet appointments, assist in cleaning and more. We have worked well with the county in this endeavor since the shelter opened in 2015- but we have voiced our opinion and given voice to the animals when it is needed. Without getting into the weeds, the county has made positive changes and acted to improve the situation at the shelter by letting a former employee go, and enforcing standard operating procedures such as proper cleaning, feeding schedules and intake procedures.
However, in a meeting held on October 5 between Humane Society President, Jennifer Hyduke, Vice President, Kenny Hinson, County Administrator, Ron Munnerlyn and Shelter Director, Joshua Cohoon, we were informed that the county would be strictly enforcing the policy that an animal is euthanized after 30 days if not moved out of the facility. This policy has always been in the books but had not previously been enforced because our Rescue and Transport Program has been so successful in emptying kennel space at the county shelter weekly- giving them the space they needed for incoming dogs though we acknowledge we have not been as successful in moving cats. We were informed that the county would allow a 15 day extension if we could prove they had pending rescue but we would be charged a daily boarding fee at that point of $10 per animal per day. (The primary reason that the Humane Society is not able to move a dog within 30 days is due to heartworm disease. It takes on average 90 days to fully treat a heartworm positive dog for heartworms and 75% of the adult dogs entering the shelter test positive because the general public does not protect their animals from this disease with monthly preventative.) We specifically asked if the 30 day euthanasia policy would be enforced if there were empty kennels and the county administrator answered in the affirmative because that is the policy and they would be adhering to the policy now. We were floored by this announcement because over the past two years, we have been able to work through concerns with the county from both sides and agree on a plan to move forward. However, the county made it clear during this meeting that enforcing of this policy was not open for discussion.
On October 12, a letter to the editor from our vice president, Kenny Hinson was published in the local paper informing residents of this enforcement in order to keep the public informed and garner new foster interest since we will now be scrambling to save the lives of hundreds of animals each year who just need extra time to be ready to transport to our rescue partners. Since then, we have received support from local residents, local leaders and other humane society advocates in the form of calls to our elected officials. Our rescue partners have also shown their support. Our Humane Society of the United States- SC Chapter, Kim Kelly, called and spoke to County Administrator, Ron Munnerlyn on current best practices for operating an animal shelter which include not euthanizing when there are empty kennels and that heartworm disease is not a death sentence.
As a result, the county has posted a public response on their Facebook page whereupon they expounded upon the euthanasia policy enforcement (details that were not previously provided to our Humane Society leaders as they so indicate in their post). We are pleased to note that the county has decided to extend the 30 deadline for current cats to the end of November and are proceeding with spaying/neutering all cats on hand to aid in an adoption promotion. However, current 30 day dogs are up for euthanasia starting November 8 despite a row of empty kennels. The county also states that the euthanasia period will be extended if a verified rescue transport is pending, however they do not state what or if boarding fees will be charged to the Humane Society for such an extension or how long said extension will be. They state that the 30 day “clock” will not start on an animal until they are “ready for adoption” per the procedure. We are not clear on what exactly this means because an animal cannot be adopted from the county shelter without being spayed/neutered but we know that the county does not have the funds to spay/neuter every animal that comes through the shelter especially if the end result will be euthanasia. We do know that the shelter director has elected not to show stray animals to the Humane Society during the five day stray hold and that an animals’ 30 day “clock” will not begin until day six when the Humane Society can begin networking them. Lastly, the county now states on its post: “In the meeting on October 5th the question was asked, will the euthanization policy be enforced if there are significant empty kennels in the shelter? The County’s answer was that if that proves to be the case, we will revisit the procedure provided resources can be secured to care for the animals.” The question that was actually asked by HSMC representatives at the meeting was, “If the dog in this kennel on the left is on its 30th day and the kennel to the right of it is unoccupied, will the dog on the left be euthanized that day?”
The word “significant” was not included in the question. The county’s response to the question was along the lines of “that is the policy, and we are going by the policies.” We are pleased to know that they are now willing to reconsider this in the future though this was not their response during the initial meeting.
The county does state that limited resources are part of the issue at hand and we understand that the shelter is on a very limited budget and that for most of 2016 had only one employee who served as the Shelter Director, Animal Control Officer, Kennel Cleaner and Office Personnel. Another employee was hired last year but terminated last month as part of our concerns were addressed. The county has now hired a temporary part time worker to assist the shelter director and provided extra cleaning help when prisoners are not available. However, they state they cannot keep up with the daily care of the animals at the shelter if at capacity. We acknowledge that the cat population at the shelter is well over the capacity that it should be due to the summer rush. Therefore, it appears, that the enforcement of this euthanasia policy is due to staffing issues and not primarily on space availability.
This month, the new Mason kennels that the Humane Society was awarded a grant for via the ASPCA are being installed at the Marlboro County Animal Shelter which will greatly decrease the spread of disease and speed up cleaning procedures. Part of this $25,000 grant also includes a renovation of the floors and walls of the cat room to allow for easier cleaning and disinfecting- this was completed last week.
The Humane Society of Marlboro County will continue its life-saving work despite this disappointing new barrier to our progress. Our most immediate need is for rescue partners to assist in helping us with the cat population currently at the shelter. We have been successful over the last week in securing rescue commitments for a large section of the cat population but we still have approximately 50 felines to move before the November 30 deadline and of course as soon as we create space, the Animal Control Officer/Shelter Director has a list of cats that need to be picked up from the public so it will fill again. We also are in desperate need of responsible fosters within an hour’s drive of Marlboro County to foster heartworm positive dogs while they undergo treatment. This takes on average 90 days and then we are able to transport them to their rescues. We also need rescues willing to pull heartworm positive dogs that have not been treated. Together, we can continue to save the lives of every adoptable animal. Please consider helping us!
To volunteer, please message the page with your contact information. Please note that shelter volunteers have to go through the county.
To become a rescue partner, please email our rescue coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
To adopt, please go by the Marlboro County Animal Shelter at 242 Ag Street, Bennettsville, SC 29512. All shelter adoptions are processed via the county.
To read our VP’s letter to the Editor click here: http://heraldadvocate.com.dnnmax.com/OnlineEdition/tabid/253/Default.aspx
To read the county’s response, click here: https://www.facebook.com/MarlboroCountyGovernment/posts/1950925521787751
*The coonhound pictured is Galloway. He only has until November 7th at the Marlboro County Animal Shelter. He is a 1 year old sweetheart, social and good with people and other dogs. He is heartworm positive as so many dogs are in Marlboro County. The Humane Society is treating him for this condition and he has had his first immiticide injection. We need a rescue who can pull him and finish his treatment or a local foster, (preferably indoors because coonies like to break out of fences and go on adventures). Please message the page if you can help. We have a lot of animals to save before November 7!
*UPDATE: After lengthy discussions between the county administrator and the officers of the Humane Society of Marlboro County, the county has put a halt on its enforcement of the euthanasia policy and we are in major negotiations for control of the county shelter. We’ll post more as soon as we can.