HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Horry County is considering offering monthly spay/neuter procedures at a minimal cost to the public in an effort to reduce intakes and euthanasia at the Horry County Animal Care Center.
The announcement comes one week after WMBF News talked to the founder of Humane Voters of Horry County, who is working to bring euthanasia statistics to light and suggest ways to improve them.
Mark Lazarus brought up the HCACC at Thursday's budget retreat.
He said he spent time at the shelter in the past week along with Councilman Al Allen, who is the chair of the Public Safety Committee.
"I'll tell you they run an excellent operation," he said. "They've got it clean and nice. They got a hard job."
He said he believes some of the euthanasia numbers people are talking about are being skewed because the majority of the animals euthanized are sick, injured, or deemed feral and cannot be put back into society.
However, he said he understands the numbers are too high and he would like to lower them, so he proposed the county host a low-cost spay/neuter clinic monthly, so the public can access those services they might not be able to afford otherwise.
"We have a lot of folks out there that love their animals, but just don't have the money," he said. "It comes down to, 'Am I going to spay or neuter my animal or am I going to put food on my table?'"
Lazarus estimates the program will cost $50,000 to $100,000 for the year in order to fund veterinarians, assistants and administrators. The small fee for the procedures will help cover some of those costs.
He said the county will also plan to launch a public relations campaign and education program to help people understand why they should spay and neuter their pets.
"It's all an educational process," he said. "If you look at nationwide and all of the research that has been done in the studies, it does help and helps us to reduce the number of animals that are possibly coming into our facility, which will ultimately reduce the euthanizations. We're already doing that by an aggressive social media to adopt out a lot of these animals that are coming into us."
Lazarus pointed out the number of animals euthanized each year has decreased and the number of animals adopted has increased.
The Public Safety Committee will develop a proposal for the low-cost spay/neuter clinics and bring it back to council.
"I think it's something that will help us take those numbers down more at that facility and it will be a work in progress," he said.
Lazarus pointed out this not a trap, neuter, release (TNR) program, which would involve trapping cats, fixing them then releasing them. That is one of the ideas the Humane Voters of Horry County wanted to see Horry County consider. They also pushed for low-cost spay/neuter clinics.
"It brings the attention and we listen," he said. "There's a lot of groups out there that want a lot of things. Financially you can only do so much. There are other things that we may can do, but the financial burden on the county might be too tremendous on us."
Also, Lazarus mentioned HCACC cannot be compared to shelters in Greenville and Spartanburg because their budgets are four times larger and they have more room for animals.