Lawmakers pass new animal welfare legislation

South Carolina News
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Columbia, SC (WCBD) – South Carolina lawmakers have passed new animal welfare legislation with the passage of Senate Bill 105 today.

The bill will now head to the Governor for his signature to become law.

The legislation will improve the quality of life for companion animals in seven key ways:

  • Training magistrates in animal cruelty: Magistrates will now be better informed before making rulings in animal cruelty cases.
  • Decreasing stray hold times for litters of cats and dogs: This will make kittens and puppies available for adoptions much more quickly, increasing their quality of life and decreasing costs to shelters.
  • Providing for cost of care reimbursement to organizations holding abused animals through the trial of defendants: This will stop defendants from deliberately stalling court proceedings to burden shelters holding their animals. If the shelter can no longer hold the animal, charges are sometimes dropped against the defendant.
  • Prioritizing spay/neuter license plate funds to go to impoverished counties: When people purchase the Spay/Neuter license plate, the funds will now go to poorer counties that need funds to provide spay/neuter services to residents’ pets.
  • Expediting the process for out-of-state veterinarians to respond to local disasters: When hurricanes or flooding happen in South Carolina, this new provision will allow out-of-state veterinarians to assist evacuations and rescues in a much quicker and smoother fashion.
  • Amending state law to provide for the sterilization of stray cats: Recognizes Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) as a population reduction method for outdoor cats.
  • Amends state law regarding spay/neuter to replace the term “refuge” with “rescue organization”: Updates state law to use more modern terminology

Two provisions were dropped before the bill was passed. The provisions would have established minimal humane conditions in animal shelters and set guidelines for humane tethering of animals.

“The passage of this important legislation is bittersweet because we had to sacrifice two of the key provisions, humane tethering and shelter standards,” said the Chair of the South Carolina Animal Legislative Coalition Denise Wilkinson. “However, we will live to fight another day for humane tethering and shelter standards in 2020.”

The Chair of House Agriculture Committee Rep. David Hiott objected to the tethering and shelter standards provisions. “We hope that future dialogue with him will help him understand why these sections are so crucial to protect our companion animals,” Wilkinson said.

Many lawmakers were enthusiastic supporters of the new law. “We applaud Senate Agriculture Committee Chair, Sen. Paul Campbell, for championing this bill in the senate this year and last year,” said Charleston Animal Society President & CEO Joe Elmore. “We also received crucial support in the House from Judiciary Committee Chair, Rep. Peter McCoy and House Judiciary Subcommittee Chair, Rep. Christopher Murphy.”

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