UNION COUNTY — Union County Council members heard several ideas for improving local animal control Tuesday evening.
The Union County Council Committee on County Administration and Finance — which includes all members of council — met in the Union County Courthouse Grand Jury Room. The first item on the agenda was a presentation from the founder of Halfway There Rescue, Sarah Lewis. For the past eight months, Lewis has worked in partnership with Union County Animal Control Officer Heather Sealy at the county animal shelter. Lewis presented council with information she has gathered regarding local animal control.
Lewis pointed out that in 2012, there were 2,119 animals which entered the shelter, and of those, 1,681 (79 percent) were euthanized. At a cost of $1.38 per animal, Union County spent $2,320 on euthanizations in 2012.
Lewis compared some of the numbers to those of Chester County, whose numbers were higher than Union’s in every category except one. In 2012, the Chester County shelter took in 2,853 animals (compared to Union’s 2,119). Of those, 1,607 were adopted or rescued (compared to 349 in Union). In Chester, however, 961 animals were euthanized, compared to the 1,681 animals euthanized in Union. Lewis mentioned that Chester’s shelter is open nine hours a day, five days a week (and four hours on Saturdays), while Union’s shelter is only open a couple hours a day, three days a week.
Lewis said she believes Sealy does an excellent job with what she has, but she also believes Sealy has too many responsibilities for just one person. For example, Sealy cannot be at the shelter and go sit in court when animal control citations are not paid. However, if a citation is brought to court and she is not there, the citation is dropped, which Lewis believes leads to a lack of compliance with the rules.
Lewis made several proposals including an owner reclaim fee, a rescue pull fee and an income-based spay/neuter program. She said some of these things could end up saving and making money for the shelter, which could ultimately be used to hire a part-time employee, allowing for extended hours, ordinance enforcement and positive attention.
“Any change is going to be positive for this shelter,” Lewis said. “I firmly believe that.”
Halfway There Rescue will partner with another rescue to renovate the shelter on Saturday. Work to be done will include power washing, repainting, resealing, putting numbers on kennel doors, extending the back area and adding cat cages and dog houses, and creating a walk-and-play area. The groups have currently raised approximately $3,500 for the project. Items which have been donated include a washer and dryer, a refrigerator, more than 30 rubber toys and peanut butter.
Look for more information about items discussed at Tuesday’s committee meeting in upcoming editions of The Union Daily Times and at www.uniondailytimes.com.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.