New bill could cripple animal shelters, services - - Columbia, South Carolina |

New bill could cripple animal shelters, services

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There are more than sixteen thousand homeless pets in the Midlands, and resources to help all of them are limited. Now, non-profit animal shelters say a bill in the legislature would cripple their ability to help animals even further.

There's no animal control center or veterinarian in McCormick County, that's why staff at one animal shelter say their services are more important than ever.

"You'd see packs of dogs running through the county," said Jan Burttram of McCormick Animal Shelter.

Thirteen years later, 45 volunteers in and around McCormick County spend their time taking care of displaced animals, even when it's not cheap.

"Most people can't afford it, there are a lot of barriers, they're working, they don't have the money," said Burttram.

But legislation sponsored by the South Carolina Veterinary Association would limit what medical care shelters and mobile clinics can deliver.

"Subsidizing boarding, grooming, declaws are certainly things we don't consider part of the humane objective," said Pat Hill of South Carolina Veterinary.

Shelter staff speculates veterinarians are simply trying to protect their bottom line by limiting free services, and it's the pets that may ultimately suffer.

"It makes it more difficult for us to adopt out an animal if we're don't have the option of having additional veterinary service or care for our animals," Burttram added.

But backers of the legislation say it's time to raise the standard of care received at these shelters and clinics.

"We have concerns about lay people providing treatment and some of the animals are suffering," Hill added.

Staff at this shelter says it's unfair to limit what care they can provide to those who can't afford veterinary services.

"People who take care of their dogs, have a regular vet, it's the people who don't have financial stability in their house hold income who come to us," said Burttram.

The bill was passed through the Senate Agriculture subcommittee Tuesday afternoon with a vote of 4 to zero.

It now heads to the Senate.

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