Charleston Animal Society protests bill that regulates shelter services

Charleston Animal Society protests bill that regulates shelter services

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Tuesday evening, a bus full of Charleston Animal Society staffers and supporters made it back to Charleston. They spent the day protesting at the capital, in Columbia,  about a bill impacting animal shelters.

Over 150 people gathered at the state house grounds to send a message to our senators. Their message? That animals lives are at stake, if bill 687 gets passed.

Supporters of the bill, like the South Carolina Association of Veterinarians, say the bill is necessary to standardize care at shelters across our state.

"Parts of the bill we agree with and have supported," said Hyman. "They are standards of care that we think should happen in every shelter across our state."

The bill requires vets in animal shelters to keep medical records of all the animals they treat, for at least three years. It also requires medication distributed from shelters be property labeled.

Hyman says the Charleston Animal Society already does, but a representative for the SCAV says many new shelters do not.

"What we don't like about the law is it limiting the scope of care," said Hyman.

If the bill passes, special services, like dental work, would only be available to low income pet owners, willing to show proof of income.

As it stands now, the shelter doesn't offer those services, but say they want the option to offer it if the need is there.
A section of the bill also forces mobile vaccine units to operate several miles away from veterinarian offices.

Some animal shelter advocates in the state are taking to social media to argue that this bill is not about ensuring the quality of care, but instead limiting the competitions for private veterinarians.

"The veterinarians are saying that they're losing business because of the non profit status having lower fees," said Hyman.

Bill 687 also limits how long a shelter can provide treatment to a newly adopted pet. In this case - the deadline would be 30 days.

"Right now, we send an animal home that's been adopted, with medication, and we bring them back in to be treated for heart worms," said Hyman.

Heart worm treatment typically lasts three months, meaning a new owner would have to pay for the remaining 60 days of treatment.

Hyman fears that this will make it more difficult to get these pets adopted, as more prospective pet adopters would not take on the financial responsibility of finishing out the treatment.

"This law is going to set us back. When I first started working here 23 yeas ago, animals with heart worm were euthanize, because no one wanted them. Now we treat them and they're adopted. They live. That's the bottom line. I'm afraid that animals are going to die," said Hyman.

The bill proposes a new South Carolina license plate. The "No more homeless pets" license would raise money that would be dispersed for local spay and neutering programs.

It was scheduled to be voted on by the full Senate on Tuesday, but was deferred.