Nearly one in five animals received by the City of Columbia animal shelter were sent to another shelter or rescue group during the past year.
That saves animal lives, said Columbia shelter director Marli Drum.
However, the practice of sending stray pets to other shelters, including shipping them out of state, will be reviewed by a state panel of animal advocates.
The panel also will review other state laws and policies about pets, looking for ways to keep S.C. pets out of animal shelters, reviewing the state’s animal abuse and neglect laws, and the disparity in resources and money among shelters across the state.
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The recommendations that emerge before the next legislative session that starts in January, hopefully, will cut down on the number of stray animals in the state and save tax dollars, said state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, who is chairing the panel.
Shipping pets to other shelters and rescue groups reduces their chances of being euthanized and the amount of time they spend in a shelter, Drum said.
For example, if the Columbia shelter already has several dogs of a similar breed, such as black lab mixes, and another black lab mix comes in, the shelter will move the animal to another shelter where it does not have to compete with similar dogs to get adopted, Drum said.
“What you’re aiming for in shelters is how to reduce your length of stay” for the animals, Drum said.
The longer an animal is in a shelter, the greater its risk of getting sick and the more it costs in tax dollars, Drum said.
The groups that take on shelter animals are vetted, Drum said, in order to make sure that the animals are not warehoused.
There is more of a demand for Southern shelter pets in Northern states because in the South pets can reproduce year-round because of the warmer temperatures, an animal advocate told the state committee Thursday.
Columbia shelter strays
From Sept. 21, 2015, through Sept. 21, 2016, the City of Columbia animal shelter had:
7,855: Strays and owner surrenders
3,893: Animals euthanized
1,812: Pets adopted directly to citizens
1,637: Animals sent to other rescue groups – local, in state or out of state
560: Pets claimed by current owners
118: Feral cats trapped, neutered and released, a common program with healthy feral cats