Anyone who has been a regular and longtime reader of the Index-Journal knows , next to the First Amendment, near and dear to our hearts are the dogs and cats that make their way through the doors of the Humane Society of Greenwood.
From the pet adoption feature we publish weekly to the occasional editorial and column published, the animal shelter, its tireless director, Karen Pettay, and her host of volunteers and the plight and efforts of that organization are trumpeted. Our support remains strong.
In a presentation before Greenwood County Council last week, HSOG volunteer and advocate Maureen Woods and Pettay shared some staggering statistics:
* Last year, 2,124 adoptable dogs and cats at the animal shelter were put to death.
* In the last 10 years, 46,000 dogs and cats were taken in by the Greenwood County Animal Shelter. Only 1 in 5 were adopted into new families. The other nearly 37,000 were euthanized.
* Under the current system, up to $250,000 in taxpayer dollars would be used in the next 10 years to put otherwise adoptable pets to death.
* One pair of dogs not spayed/neutered and their offspring can create 67,000 dogs in a period of six years. One pair of cats not spayed or neutered and their offspring can create 420,000 cats in a period of seven years.
There is a move afoot to build a new shelter, as the Humane Society currently is using an aging and grossly inadequate facility. The county has invested $500,000 in bonds to be used in the construction project, but Pettay shared a modern and more sufficient shelter will greatly exceed that amount - to the tune of between $2 million and $3 million, not including the land.
That is a large chunk of change, an amount the county is certainly not ready or able to put on the table. Perhaps if any of the penny sales tax dollars set aside for the Buzzard Roost dam work are left over, the voters can decide whether to use those funds for the shelter. If not that, perhaps another bond referendum can be put before the voters. Or even a referendum to levy a penny tax again toward building a right and proper shelter.
Some of the Humane Society's most ardent supporters who attended last week's meetings are also known for their philanthropy. No doubt they are also ready to assist with financing.
But the point remains that our animal shelter is inadequate and on borrowed time. And Greenwood County has a root problem that needs to be addressed: Too many people are uninformed (ignorant might seem too strong a word, but it's appropriate in some cases) and allow dogs and cats to roam freely and mass reproduce. Spaying and neutering would indeed help resolve the overpopulation problem facing Greenwood and handled through our local shelter.
A plea to launch a spay and neuter initiative was also put before County Council. We suspect Council would fully support such an initiative, but remain curious how the county would develop and implement such a plan. Having a spay/neuter ordinance in place might be a start, but enforcing it might prove difficult. Such an initiative will require far more than a county ordinance. Still, we look forward to learning what can be done in that regard because, as Woods pointed out Tuesday night, euthanasia is "limitless and ineffective" while spaying and neutering can go a long way toward breaking the continuing cycle of overpopulation.
Indeed, more than has been done needs to be done. And more needs to be done than Pettay and her volunteers and area veterinarians can accomplish on their own.