Our Stray Problem in Oconee County
Introduction: A few comments about the stray pet problem in our area and whose hurting and whose helping.
The Animal Rescue Fund is a private, non-governmental organization ... about which I am proud ... of responsible citizens of all different political stripes pitching in together to help solve a sad fact of life; there are huge numbers of unwanted, stray, and abandoned pets roaming our communities. Without help, their lives are usually short and miserable
Much of this problem can be attributed to irresponsible pet ownership and carelessness. Efforts to increase public awareness, concern, and responsibility have helped and attitudes toward animal welfare and care have changed over the years for the better. But attitude changes take generations and there's a fairly large percentage of our population that don't seem willing to put out much effort for anything... their own careers, their family relationships, their children, or their community, let alone a pet that becomes a bit of a nuisance. A lot of people are disgraceful, low life bums, and so called "education" efforts don't seem to have much effect.
County governments have traditionally tackled the problem of stray pets with animal control officers ("dog catchers") and shelters. And people can bring unwanted pets they find or have to the shelter. An attempt is made to find these animals a new home, but because there are so many more strays than people willing to adopt, and because space and money is limited, an large percentage of such pets are "destroyed". We have this system in our county. Our county shelter, despite the large number of pets being killed is doing a good job of finding homes for many of the pets and thanks to the efforts of staff, volunteers, and tax payers, those pets adopted out are neutered and spayed which helps reduce the number of future unwanted pets.
Our county shelter and their volunteers also have a praise worthy program available that subsidizes the spaying and neutering of pets for pet owners in hopes of further reducing the future number of strays.
These efforts by our county, volunteer groups, and the local veterinarians involved in spay/neuter programs has to have helped, and I'm proud to one of the veterinarians helping.
It's frustrating though...the stray situation seems to be worse... probably because of the huge increase in population in our area. Also, despite the availability of inexpensive spay/neuter certificates, there seems to be a significant percentage of our population not willing to spend even a little money or effort. (This seems to be true even in those counties in other states offering free neutering services).
There also seem to be a lot of people that resist the idea of responsible pet ownership based on vague principles:
"I wouldn't want anybody to chop my gonads
"It's natural for animals to roam around "free"
"It's nature's way... the strong survive ... and
the rest?... well, it's just nature's way"
" I want my kids to see babies being born"
At any rate, for a number of reasons there are lots of pets wandering around, sometimes causing problems, sometimes doing okay, but often leading a miserable and painful life until they either starve to death or die of injuries, car accidents, or bite wound infections and other illness'
Having grown up emotionally and phyically dependent on humans, many are confused, sad, and anxious.
The government solution to the problem is helpful and should be commended ...it's a whole lot worse in other countries ... but despite the efforts of our county shelter and the volunteer groups and spay/neuter advocates helping to find homes and reduce the number of breeding pets ... there are still hundreds of unwanted pets being killed each month.
While I have nothing but disdain and disgust for the many people in our area who litter, abuse their family members, don't pay their bills, and don't take even moderately good care of their pets ... I am pleased to report that there are also lots of top notch people from all economic and social levels in our area willing to help. They volunteer and donate time and money to their churches and communities to help solve all kinds of problems including the sad problem of so many unwanted pets.
Some of these nice people have started their own groups to rescue animals or to raise money to help the county shelter.
There's a volunteer effort to raise money to build a bigger shelter for the county.
The local newspaper and radio stations are helping with free advertising for pets needing homes.
Local vets (including me) continue to offer super inexpensive vaccination, spaying and neutering for pets at the county shelter if a home is found.
And then there's us; The Animal Rescue Fund of South Carolina...a no kill shelter serving our area.
It's wonderful, if I do say so myself, and not only don't we kill any pets in our care (except in extreme cases) but we fix up any wounds or medical problems, spay, neuter, vaccinate and so forth before finding a good home.
The only negative is our small size ... we found homes for over 200 pets last year and that's significant, but still a small dent in the overall problem.
And people sometimes get mad at us because we're unable to take their unwanted pet due to lack of space...that's the problem with a no-kill operation; we can't take in new pets until we find
a home for the ones already filling our pens and cages.
We hope to continue growing and finding homes for more and more pets. But it takes a fair amount of money to take care of so many animals and to pay for their vaccinations, surgeries, and medical care.
What are other Counties doing for stray pets...coming soon
About the Stray Problem Nationally....coming soon
About the Stray Problem Internationally... coming soon