SC lawmaker to introduce bill to regulate animal shelters

It's a growing concern to many in South Carolina -- how to regulate conditions at hundreds of animal shelters across the state. One state lawmaker told News 13 he isn't done fighting for animal rights in the Palmetto State.
It's a growing concern to many in South Carolina -- how to regulate conditions at hundreds of animal shelters across the state. One state lawmaker told News 13 he isn't done fighting for animal rights in the Palmetto State.

DILLON, SC (WBTW) – It’s a growing concern to many in South Carolina — how to regulate conditions at hundreds of animal shelters across the state. One state lawmaker told News 13 he isn’t done fighting for animal rights in the Palmetto State.

“Right now there aren’t any restrictions, no laws, nothing to govern these animal shelters,” said Rep. Terry Alexander (D-Florence).

Rep. Alexander said it’s well-past time to do something about that problem.

“Each county can do their own thing with no governing body over them,” he explained.

News 13 has told you recently about poor condition at some animal shelters in the Pee Dee. Many activists with the Humane Society and other rescues have told News 13 that oversight is needed to ensure animal shelters don’t fall into a similar situation.

Rep. Alexander said he plans to introduce a bill next month to try and fix that problem.

“What we’re proposing to do is have a governing body to kind of regulate these shelters and how they handle these animals when they come to the shelters,” Alexander said.

He said shelter conditions and regulations vary widely from county to county, and right now, no one on the state level is paying enough attention.

“Florence County could be doing one thing, based on whatever they wanna do,” Rep. Alexander said. “You go over to Marion and Darlington and they’re doing something completely different, way off the board, and it’s just not a good thing.”

A 2015 shelter bill failed in part because of a requirement that low-income pet parents show proof of need in order to get discounted treatments like heartworm prevention, spaying, or neutering.

Opponents thought the requirement would keep people from seeking help, and put more stray animals on the streets.

“Just like humans need regular health care, the animals at the shelters need routine health care,” explained Mary McDaniel, President of the Dillon County Humane Society. McDaniel said a similar program has been available in Dillon County for several years.

Residents fill out a form to get assistance from a vet who works with the shelter.

“That’s the only way we will ever make the county a better place for the animals,” McDaniel said.

Rep. Alexander said his bill is just the very first step in helping shelters. He said establishing a governing body comes before deciding what kinds of regulations will be enforced.

McDaniel said you don’t have to wait for a bill to pass to help animals in your town. Foster parents, volunteers and donations are always needed.

To donate, visit the SC Humane Society website here. To volunteer or foster in Dillon County, contact the Dillon County Humane Society at (843)-845-8884 or attend a meeting every third Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Dillon Wellness Center on Commerce Drive.