- Special Sections
- Public Notices
All he had to do was mention PETA.
So that’s what Brunswick County health board member Chip Carroll did in opposing having a humane element brought into management of the Brunswick County Animal Shelter.
Subsequently, at the board’s Feb. 14 meeting, he and seven other members of the board succeeded in rejecting efforts of Rescue Animals Community Effort (RACE), a group of animal advocates who have been working with Brunswick County Health Director Don Yousey to take over management of the shelter.
RACE founder and organizer Cheri McLain had come prepared to answer questions about RACE’s plans, which have been endorsed by Yousey because he says it will save the county money and hopefully help reduce its animal euthanization rate. An average of 5,000 animals are euthanized annually at the Brunswick County Animal Shelter.
What she wasn’t prepared for was the roomful of hunters and a representative with the Brunswick County Sporting Dog Association who claimed humane facilities have failed. This was combined with Carroll’s claims that the humane society, from whom RACE will be pursuing grant funding once it achieves nonprofit status, would try to interfere with livestock and chickens.
Then, in the same breath, Carroll tied together “humane society” and “PETA”—i.e., those fanatic animaniacs who meddle with hunting and farms.
Brunswick County commissioner Marty Cooke faulted RACE for not yet having nonprofit status, though it’s been applied for, and a business plan to present to the board. McLain later told a reporter that’s because she’s awaiting county budgetary figures to add in.
Celestine Worley, an employee with the Brunswick County Animal Shelter, spoke out in defense of the shelter job she stands to lose if RACE takes over. She asked if RACE is willing to kill a young, healthy animal, citing a single instance in which a couple asked the shelter to do so about a year ago “so they could sleep better at night.” After McLain responded no, Worley said that would be a problem because some people can’t afford to take pets to a vet to have them put down.
Why is the county-run shelter responsible for instantly euthanizing someone’s young, healthy pet, especially when it can offer a period of time and chance for that pet to be adopted?
RACE believes it can give the county’s homeless animals an even greater chance at that happening, with its volunteers who are already out in the community rescuing and working to find homes for adoptable animals.
Yousey said when he started working with animal welfare groups, 50 percent of animals were going into the gas chamber as opposed to 5.5 percent now. Previously, only 43 percent of animals adopted from the shelter were being spayed and neutered, compared to “100 percent” of adopted animals now being spayed and neutered through voluntary efforts, he said.
Worley said people get confused when they call the shelter and learn Brunswick County has no humane society. Well, with RACE’s efforts, maybe Brunswick County could finally have one.
Also on the opposing side, Ray Casteen with the Brunswick County Sporting Dog Association said humane facilities have “failed” just down the road in Myrtle Beach and Horry County, S.C., citing news stories in which humane societies have been having financial struggles in these financially challenging times and asking for government assistance.
But if RACE took over the shelter, it would make use of between $175,000-$200,000 in county funding already allocated for animal services, separate from the additional $600,000 the county shells out now for animal services employee salaries, insurance and benefits and the department’s fleet of trucks and supplies.
Under a proposed contract with the county, RACE would have to agree to work within that annual allocation over the next three years with no increases. Once RACE gets its nonprofit status, McLain said it would pursue grant funding as well, in addition to having fundraising events—something the county can’t do.
Yousey said the county has nothing to lose giving RACE a chance, because if it fails, the shelter will still belong to the county and the county can take it back.
All RACE needs is a chance.
But it’s a chance the Brunswick County Board of Health wasn’t willing to give.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.