S.C. bill could change animal shelter health care, cause serious harm to animals

The Charleston Animal Society sent a bus load of about 20 people to Columbia on Tuesday to show their opposition for Senate Bill 687. According to the Animal Society’s CEO, this bill could cause serious medical harm to many animals across the state.

The Charleston Animal Society CEO, Joe Elmore, says, “It’s going to lead to the deaths of thousands of animals, make no mistake about it.”

The Charleston Animal Society says SB687 would limit the types of care they could provide, meaning some animals would be less appealing to potential adopters.

Elmore says, “The bill would deny animal shelters, such as ourselves, from continuing treatment of animals that come into our care once they are adopted. An example would be heartworm-positive dogs. We start the treatment here and then we continue that treatment for several months after the dog has been adopted. In years past, we have seen people will not adopt animals when they have medical conditions that need to be treated over a course of time after they’ve adopted them, costing hundreds or perhaps thousands of dollars.”

One local veterinarian disagrees, and says this bill is all in the best interest of the pet.

Dr. Lorin Lawrence, Relief Vet at Maybank Animal Hospital, says, “I strongly support it. I think it will greatly improve the care of homeless pets all over the state.”

He says part of the bill includes raising the standards of record keeping in shelters and mobile clinics.

Lawrence says, “I’ve seen this myself many times, pets will come from smaller shelters without any records of what they’ve done, but they’ve been treating the animal for a few weeks. And it comes in with a little Ziploc baggie of pills. And there’s no identification of what the pill is, the size of the dose, how it’s to be given, what it’s for, and we’re kind of stuck and a lot of times that can bring harm to a pet.”

The bill would also require people to show proof of poverty for any additional care beyond the basics, like vaccines, and spaying and neutering. The Charleston Animal Society says those who couldn’t provide that proof would be denied pet care at a reasonable cost.

Elmore says, “If those animals are not getting care for whatever reasons, the government’s not going to be able to force people to take those animals and pay a certain price for those animals, it’s just not going to work. Those animals are going to be surrendered to animal shelters, the animal shelters that will already be overwhelmed will be more overwhelmed.”

Another part of this bill would require mobile vet clinics to set up more than a mile way from a veterinary practice. The bill was debated Tuesday in a committee in Columbia, but the full Senate will not make a final decision about this bill until next session in 2016.

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