PICKENS COUNTY — A year after Pickens County Council passed a new ordinance allocating money toward building a county-operated animal adoption facility, the Pickens County Animal Shelter has achieved its goal of operating as a “no-kill” shelter, according to Community Relations Manager Jamie Burns.
However, what should be a time to celebrate is marred by a harsh reality — shelter intake is currently at all-time high and public assistance is needed, she said.
Prior to April 2017, Pickens County operated exclusively as an animal control agency, meaning, as there were no provisions for adoptions, almost all of unclaimed animals were euthanized.
Since the establishment of the shelter, the percentage rate for euthanized pets has dwindled to less than ten percent, Burns said.
“The Pickens County Animal Shelter has had a survival rate of more than 90 percent for four consecutive months, which meets the common designation of a no-kill shelter,” she said. “But between June and August, the shelter received more than 300 animals each month.”
In July alone, the shelter received 17 dogs that were seized from an alleged puppy mill in Clemson.
County Attorney Ken Roper met with the defendant in the case and was able to reach an agreement to have him surrender 15 of the 17 seized animals, most of which have since been adopted, placed with outside volunteers, or transferred to rescue organizations.
Roper is also working with the shelter in Anderson County to obtain a grant for a spay and neuter program to limit the number of stray animals in Pickens County.
According to Burns, the average intake for the 2018 Summer has equated to more than ten animals per day.
“Stray animals are often bred by other stray animals or are abandoned by pet owners who were unprepared to care for the litter of their non-spayed pet,” she said. “The public is asked to do their part to prevent stray animals by having their pets spayed or neutered.”
According to the ASPCA, by spaying or neutering your pet, you’ll help control the pet homelessness crisis, which results in millions of healthy dogs and cats being euthanized in the United States each year.
There are also medical and behavioral benefits to spaying (female pets) and neutering (male pets) your animals, they said.
Female pets are more likely to live a longer, healthier life as spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast tumors, which are malignant or cancerous in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats.
Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases, they said.
But it’s not just for the girls …
Neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems, the ASPCA states.
Additionally, spayed female pets won’t go into heat. While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season and a neutered male dog will be less likely to roam away from home.
“An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate, including finding creative ways escape from the house,” an ASPCA spokesperson said. “Once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other male animals.”
Spaying/neutering your pets is also highly cost-effective. The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is far less than the cost of having and caring for a litter.
And no, spaying or neutering will not cause your pet to become overweight. Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds — not neutering, they said.
“Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor her food intake,” they said.
For dogs, the traditional age for neutering is six to nine months, but the ASPCA states puppies as young as eight weeks old can be neutered as long as they’re healthy. Dogs can be neutered as adults as well, although there’s a slightly higher risk of post-operative complications in older dogs, dogs that are overweight or dogs that have health problems, they said.
For cats, it is generally considered safe for kittens as young as eight weeks old to be spayed or neutered.
The Pickens County Animal Shelter is hosting “Pumpkins and Pets” on Oct. 20 at the amphitheater in Pickens. The adopt-a-thon will feature face painting, live music, vendors and raffles.
All of the proceeds will go to Pickens Spay and Neuter Program.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.