PICKENS COUNTY — For the past several months, the Pickens County Humane Society, also known as Foothills Humane Society, has been struggling to stay afloat following the county’s decision to cut their funding in favor of their own facility.
On Oct. 10, Foothills Humane waved the white flag and officially announced their closure.
“After 46 years in business, Pickens County Humane Society is forced to close our doors,” wrote director Samantha Gamble. “We have not made enough stride in making up a significant deficit and we have ran out of time.”
Gamble stated that the shelter was “financially ruined” with the loss of funding and the facility had depleted their endowments and could no longer survive with the “lack of community support.”
The animal shelter is slated to close its doors on Dec. 31 but will continue to care for the animals located in the facility as normal, said Gamble.
“We will focus our efforts in making sure all of our animals located within the facility find forever homes — whether per adoptions, rescues or other humane societies,” Gamble stated. “We will still depend on support from (the public) for supplies and monetary funding to make sure that the facility can operate appropriately to the end of the year.”
Ironically, it was the County facility, Upstate SPCA, that agreed to accept any animals that remained in the shelter after the Dec. 31 deadline.
“The Pickens County Upstate SPCA … is committed to working with various animal shelters to house animals affected by the recent closing announcement from the Pickens County Humane Society,” the organization wrote in response to the closure announcement. “Upstate SPCA is positioned to accept additional animals and continue care.”
Upstate SPCA Director Robert Kelly said the shelter’s goal was to care for stray animals and help as many animals as possible find their forever homes.
“We are updating our facility to accommodate additional animals and we’re working with rescue groups as well,” he said.
The County has defended the decision to withdraw the nearly $70,000 in annual funding to Foothills Humane by stating the organization repeatedly failed to hold up their end of the deal — namely, pulling animals out of the county facility to be adopted.
“The Pickens County Humane Society is a private entity. I, nor any other member of council have input or say as to how it is run or the ultimate outcome of the organization. It is never good to see a business or organization of any kind shutter its doors in our community,” wrote County Councilman Chris Bowers in a response to an online protest about Foothills Humane closing.
Bowers said they (Council) had been working “diligently to correct the issues the county has had with its own facility” and while the County was anticipating an increase in (animal) intakes, they were ready to handle the situation as “efficiently and professionally as possible.”
“I’m excited about the improvements and positives that will come from the county facility,” he said. “There are plans to work with rescue organizations across the East coast.”
Bowers also wanted to stress a County run shelter was nothing new and the facility had already been in operation for “many years.”
“Over the years, Pickens County has provided partial funding to the Humane Society but the organization failed to accept animals from our facility on a consistent basis,” wrote Bowers. “As a result, our animal population grew, with little or no other options for these animals.”
Bowers said the need to care for these animals prompted Pickens County officials to make a decision earlier this year to reallocate funds and extend their own adoption services at the county facility.
“In addition to Pickens County Sheriff’s deputies picking up stray animals, Upstate SPCA now offers adoptions and veterinarian care as well as spaying and neutering services for impounded animals,” he said. “But we also need our (residents) to continue looking to other shelters like ours to find or foster your next pet.”
“Working with the residents and community of Pickens County has been nothing but an absolute pleasure. We have taken in so many animals and found so many forever homes,” she said. “We have laughed and cried, been happy and sad in our time here at the shelter.”
The last day for animal surrenders at Foothills Humane is Oct. 16. although the facility will be open to the public for normal adoption hours until the closing date, she said.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.