The new bill, SC House Bill 3492, is multi-faceted, but one thing it would require is animal shelters to give pet owners the option of who does their animals veterinary care instead of clinics immediately spaying or neutering animals as they come in.
Local shelter directors say, if passed, it would prevent them from providing services needed to reduce stray pet populations.
“It doesn't make any sense for dogs and cats locally, at the state level or even nationally for any state to move in this direction,” said Amy Campanini of the Palmetto Animal League.
Local activists are upset over a proposed bill that would limit animal shelters to only offering spaying and neutering of animals and not using grant money to perform other vaccinations and low-cost vet care, and they say it will keep people from adopting these animals.
“Let's face it, the people coming in to adopt are making a financial decision, and if we can move that cat or dog into a home by providing a good solid medical foundation for these animals in their first year, then we've done our job and the adopter can pick it up, but it is a factor when people adopt today,” said Campanini.
Experts say forcing people to get outside medical care could result in less adoptions and overcrowding in shelters and lead to a life or death situation for animals in our area.
“It can really lead to life or death because what we are trying to do is help the county shelters that are open admission move animals through more quickly and find good homes for them so that more animals can come in, and not only that people that receive low-cost assistance will really take advantage of that and then opt to keep their pet,” said Franny Gerthoffer Director of Hilton Head Humane Association.
Campanini says it would also hinder their ability to perform large rescues and place animals in good homes, and likely result in euthanasia.
“It would completely negatively impact all of the work we do in our community. It would make what we do more expensive, clearly we'd be able to touch fewer and fewer animals, therefore as a state we would be killing more animals than we already are.”
The bill also requires that all animal shelters are affiliated with a vet, and provide a list to potential pet owners of all vets in the local area.