Lancaster County Animal Control is taking a lot of heat lately from some well-meaning people who feel they are being kept from rescuing dogs and cats from the shelter’s version of death row.
Rescue groups and individuals have been adopting as many animals as they can from the typically at-capacity kill-shelter and taking them into foster care until permanent homes could be found. Recently, however, Animal Control Director Joel Hinson said that groups must have Internal Revenue Service nonprofit status – 501(c)3 – to take animals from the shelter. That poses a problem for the cash-strapped groups that use all of their resources to pay for animal care – the approximate $1,000 cost of registering for IRS status.
Hinson had allowed rescue groups to take animals from the shelter without the IRS nonprofit status but said it’s become difficult to distinguish between legitimate nonprofit rescue groups and “people looking for a cheap animal to sell and make money off of.”
He also said he’s become inundated with calls because of false internet postings of animals there were said to have “hours to live” when in reality those animals were not scheduled to be euthanized and blames overzealous rescuers for creating a crisis that doesn’t exist.
Except there is a crisis.
It’s difficult to tell if those postings were premature but, there’s no denying that the absence of a no-kill kill shelter like Fort Mill’s Humane Society facility means too many animals are being put to death at the county shelter. Hinson is correct in seeking to stop adoptions by people who only seek to exploit the animals – including some that could face inhumane treatment and cruel deaths in dog fighting pits – but the IRS requirement for rescue groups that have state nonprofit status seems like overreach.
If there are groups that Hinson suspects might be adopting cats and dogs for exploitation, there can’t be so many of them that the county can’t fully investigate.
According to the Lancaster County Animal Control website, between 4,500 and 5,500 animals are surrendered by owners or picked up by officers each year. Eighty percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats die on their own or are euthanized.
That’s far too many.
Let’s pitch in for disaster relief
Wherever disaster strikes in the U.S. and abroad, local residents never hesitate to get involved in fundraising efforts to help those in need. The recent devastation wrought by super-storm Sandy continued to unfold nearly a week after it finally dissipated.
The death toll has been rising each day since Sandy came through, particularly in Staten Island, a densely packed New York City borough that had little defense against the surge of flood waters and cyclonic winds.
Although the storm hammered several states all along the east coast, the New York and New Jersey areas were hit particularly hard; some coastal communities were effectively obliterated. Even those places spared flooding, were left without electricity and water/sewer service, making for a miserable experience.
It’s not unlike Hurricane Katrina as far as damage and loss of life and in the aftermath, many in our area opened their hearts – and their wallets and homes. To this day, there are people who fled New Orleans, found refuge here and stayed. Horses and other animals that were Katrina refugees continue to be part of our township.
Now we’re needed again.
For many of our residents, Sandy literally hit close to home. Thousands of residents are transplants from New York and New Jersey and have friends and family who are suffering there.
Right now, the best way to help, officials say, is to donate money to the Red Cross. To find out how, go to redcross.org.