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Animal Care Services
Animal Care Blog

Call to Keep Animals at Home
 Posted: 03/29/20 9:11 AM by Shelly Simmons

If I have learned one thing from working in an animal shelter for 24 years, it is that animal care professionals know how to deal with disaster. Animal sheltering is a series of minor and major crises day after day after day. I cannot remember the last time I came home from work and told my family that I had a boring, ho-hum kind of day. It just does not happen that way in our line of work.

Daily life in an animal shelter teaches us to always be tough, be prepared, never expect the same thing to happen again in the same way, adapt quickly, and embrace change. Personally, I love fixing problems (and animals). So, after 24 years, I should be ready for anything…right? Today I am not so sure of that and writing out these next few words is probably the most heartbreaking thing I have done.

We are going to stop spaying and neutering everything. Let me just write that out again because I still cannot believe it is true and I need to hear it again so that it sinks in and I can move forward. Maybe you need to hear it again, too. We are going to stop spaying and neutering…everything.

After all of the hard work, time, and money we have invested to reduce the overpopulation of pets, why in the world would we stop spaying and neutering? I will answer that in just a minute. First, I would like to reflect on our community’s current situation. Reflect on the loss of jobs and the people and animals impacted by it. Reflect on the many small businesses that have molded Greenville County into the vibrant place we call home and that struggle to keep their doors open right now. Reflect on the loss of life and friends and family grieving those losses. Reflect on what is yet to come. The unknown can be daunting.

It is that uncertainty that is driving animal welfare organizations all over the country to make the agonizing decision to stop spaying and neutering…that and hope. We believe that in order to “flatten the curve” and kick this virus to the curb that we all have to do our part. Each of us has an important role to play. For some, that role is to stay home, social distance, and keep others and ourselves healthy. For others, that role is to be the first responders to help people and animals that need our help the most.

Those first responders include animal shelter experts, veterinarians, and animal control officers. These professionals offer essential public services that, during a time when we must observe social distance guidelines, can make traditional lifesaving methods unmanageable. We have to prioritize emergencies and restrict shelter intake to only critical needs to keep our population of shelter pets and our people safe.

More importantly, animal care and animal control professionals are obligated during disasters (both natural and manmade) to preserve lifesaving within our communities—people and pets. Right now, there is a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) across the United States. This equipment is necessary for first responders to save lives while remaining healthy themselves. PPE is the lifeblood of lifesaving in these critical times.

Every day, our community’s first responders put their own health at risk to ensure our safety. They are doing their part to end this pandemic. The least we can do is make sure they have everything they need to do their jobs safely.

The U.S. Surgeon General and every reputable national animal care and control organization in the US recommends that right now and as soon as possible, human and animal organizations suspend ‘non-essential’ services to preserve critical medical supplies for first responders. As essential as we all know spay/neuter is to reducing pet overpopulation, we have a much larger problem to solve. As passionate as I am to protect animals, I care more right now about protecting people. We all should.

Greenville County Animal Care will comply with these recommendations and in doing so, we will ensure that animal care and animal control in Greenville County can continue to provide essential services to our community by taking active steps to mitigate unnecessary exposure.

This is only a temporary setback but it is a big one. We will need our community to help us recover and in turn, we will help you, too. Right now, we need citizens to keep their own pets and any animals they may find, especially if they are healthy and not in critical need for care. One way we can give back in return is by handing out pet food. If you need our help, give our pet food pantry a call at 864-467-3992 and schedule a time to pick some up.

Like all of you, Greenville County Animal Care is hopeful that this will be a short-term problem and it won’t be long before we will once again resume all of our amazing (and FREE!) spay/neuter programs – like free community cat TNR, free large dog spay/neuter, and free spay/neuter for lower-income pet owners. In the meantime, we appreciate that you continue to help us help animals and support the important work that our first responders do to save lives.