South Carolina has too many unwanted animals. It’s not a stretch to call the continued breeding of these animals an epidemic that brings many public health issues.
But, there are many groups working hard to improve the situation. Without them, this epidemic would be even worse.
But there’s a move afoot by some veterinarians to limit those good deeds, putting the welfare of thousands of animals behind a few more bucks in their pockets.
Rep. David Hiott, a Republican from Pickens, has introduced legislation that would seriously curtail much of the work being done by animal groups like the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare here in Aiken County.
Hiott’s bill would allow animals already in the possession of a shelter or rescue to be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and microchipped at that organization’s facility, but would restrict them from offering those same services to the public.
That means facilities like the SPCA couldn’t offer those services to low-income residents who want to care for their dogs or cats, but have trouble affording it.
Why? Some veterinarians in the state say these centers are using public money for services that directly compete with their businesses. In other words, the shelters and rescues offering these services to poor people are taking money away from their businesses..
Never mind that facilities like the Albrecht Center provide those services through donations from the private sector.
Or that these services are offered to low-income people who otherwise couldn’t afford the care for their pet.
Or, that allowing these animals to continue to breed will only make the problem worse: More unwanted animals, more disease and more puppies and kittens who will grow up and produce more of the same.
Fortunately, the S.C. Humane Society has met with the state’s Association of Veterinarians and Hiott, and they are working on a compromise that would remove the limitations proposed.
That’s good. But we’ll rest a little easier once it’s done.
We can’t put the interests of a few veterinarians ahead of the welfare of the animal population across the state.