There's a dangerous situation taking place across South Carolina that involves the animal control officer's hired for respective counties. Until those officers who are hired to protect the dogs and cats in our state step up and actually enforce those laws on the books, more companion animals will die from abuse and neglect.
Many animal control officers fail to follow the written ordinance for their community, whether it be county or city.
Some of the issues that have been reported against animal control officers in South Carolina include
*Putting a caller "on hold" indefinitely
*Refusal of an animal control officer to investigate a situation, should it occur on the weekend
*Giving the owner of an animal suffering abuse up to a month to correct the situation, or failure to admit there's a problem
*Failure to ticket or arrest an abuser and seize the pet when abuse is evident
There are far too many problems with animal control in South Carolina, the state that ranks #46 in animal law protection. The ones above are those that stand out and are recurrent in many counties, not only in the upstate.
Perhaps each animal control department should be given a refresher course in what their job entails. The following information can be found under the Greenville County ordinances regarding companion animals.
A complete copy of this ordinance can be found by clicking here. . The laws for Greenville are closely mirrored for other counties, as well as S.C. Animal Cruelty Laws for the state.
§ 4-21 makes it illegal to leave a dead animal unattended for more than 48 hours without burying it to a depth of at least four feet.
§ 4-22 involving enforcement says the animal control officer shall initiate the procedure for search warrant and seizure in accordance with state law. This includes ticketing or arresting the person in violation, and seizing the animal if animal control believes it necessary to protect that animal.
§ 4-23 involving the penalty for animal abuse says the abuser shall be punished within the jurisdictional limits of magistrate’s court. Each such person, firm, corporation or agent shall be deemed guilty of a separate offense for each and every day, or portion thereof, during which any violation occurs.
While these laws are for Greenville County, with other counties in the state having similar laws, many small municipalities aren't legally required to follow them. They have their own ordinances, which may not be in the best interest of companion animals.
The reason I'm listing all of these stipulations is because many animal control officers appear to have forgotten how to do their job. The rescue groups in upstate South Carolina are receiving numerous calls from "tipsters" to report potentially dangerous conditions in the community where the caller resides.
This usually occurs after a county animal control department representative is contacted, and they fail to correct the problem. This especially holds true this winter, when dogs nationwide are being found frozen to the ground.
Dog rescue shouldn't be the responsibility of local rescues, who have their hands full with the unwanted companion animals they have pulled from local shelters. It's difficult for animal advocates to sit by and do nothing knowing a local pet is out in the cold without adequate shelter, nutrition or fresh water.
The residents of South Carolina aren't asking for a miracle. We simply want those in charge to do the job they're being paid to do.
I've spoken to several dog lovers in the Greenville area who have contacted Joe Kernell, County Administrator for Greenville County. He has answered back a few, but failed to offer any real solutions. One upstate group, The Community Pet Project, contacted Mr. Kernell by email on January 30, and has yet to get a response.
Perhaps we need to enforce the ordinance for Greenville County § 4-12 under duties for an animal control officer, stating that all records shall be open to inspection pursuant to the provisions of the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act.
Many, many changes are needed in South Carolina, but a lot of what's necessary is already on the books, with animal control choosing to turn a blind eye on pets in need.
Perhaps the best solution for our state is to vote those who refuse to do their job out of office, and put someone in place that's willing to end animal cruelty and neglect.
The photo for this article is for Chocolate, whose owner's were ticketed for violation of ordinance in Anderson, South Carolina. She is thriving under the good care of those involved in saving her. There are hundreds of dogs in similar situations across the state, and help will come too late for many of them.
Have any of you involved in rescue in South Carolina faced any of the problems I've written of in this article? Please leave a comment.