Over the last several years, the home of retirees Steve and Toni Hutto has become a hub for abandoned animals.

Nearly one dozen dogs and cats have been left at their home in recent years. The latest was a 4-month-old puppy found at their door.

Mr. Hutto says the puppy appeared to be in bad shape and was likely dehydrated due to the severe temperatures.

“There was a little puppy laying right on the doormat and you could count her ribs — they were protruding,” he said. “Somebody had to put the dog in our area.”

Given the state of the puppy and the location of their home, it would have been “extremely difficult” for her to get there on her own. The Huttos took the puppy in, fed her, gave her water and started seeking options to relocate her, which was not an easy task.

People are also reading…

According to Mr. Hutto, the local animal shelter put the couple on a waitlist for an opening because the shelter was full.

The Huttos also reached out to the local chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and left a message explaining their situation on the voicemail.

Ultimately, the couple found an animal shelter in Holly Hill that took in the puppy. But Mr. Hutto was left wondering, “If this is happening to us as much as it does, how much is it happening to other people?”

Alicia Ramirez, director of the Maude Schiffley Chapter of the SPCA, says the problem with abandoned dogs has grown in the last couple of years and “2020 had a lot to do with it.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic “a lot of people adopted dogs and didn’t know what to do with them once they went back to work,” she said.

“Adoptions have gone down but the stray problem has gone up.”

When Ramirez became director shortly before the pandemic, the shelter had no more than 60 animals at a time. Now, that number is near 90.

She believes the stray population would decline with a spay/neuter law. A spay/neuter law requires pet owners to pay a fee if they choose to keep their animal unaltered.

“We don’t have spay/neuter laws here and it’s not a requirement like it is in other states. They are working on legislation to get that more regulated in Orangeburg. Orangeburg County is probably one of, or the only, county that doesn’t regulate spaying and neutering in the state,” she said.

Orangeburg County Council is considering an animal control ordinance to require the registration of pets. The fee would be $1 each year for spayed and neutered pets and $50 each year for unaltered pets.

“I really think spaying and neutering is the best option,” Ramirez said.

“The whole point is to stop animals from reproducing because it’s not fair to the ones that are already out here and aren’t getting the care that they need.”

According to Ramirez, the cost for getting a pet spayed or neutered at a vet is “upwards of $200 to $300.”

She encourages the public to contact the SPCA and ask for affordable options.

“We can get those costs covered, but we can’t assume that everyone is going to need that. It’s really about them trying to communicate with us,” she said.

Ramirez says there are voucher programs, sponsors and clinics that are low-cost. PETSinc, a non-profit organization based in Columbia, comes to Orangeburg once a month and charges a $120 spay/neuter fee, she said.

“If your animal gets out, especially if it’s in heat, it’s very likely that it’s going to get pregnant or get somebody else pregnant. A lot of these animals that are strays are ‘accidental litters’ where someone has an animal that gets pregnant,” she said.

Ramirez encourages the public to contact the SPCA via email if they find a stray animal, but they may not be able to take it.

“It kind of seems like it’s an epidemic where everyone is overflowing. I will give them a list of rescues. There are tons of rescues out there. It really depends on who has an animal adopted because once an animal is adopted, a space opens up,” she said.

“We try to find fosters. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes longer to find that kind of space.”

Fosters are people who house animals when the shelter is full. SPCA provides food and medical attention to the animal, Ramirez said.

“We just need somewhere for the animal to be housed. We do make sure that the place is safe for the animal and that the people are not going to tie them to a chain on a tree,” she said.

“We’re very thankful for fosters and we definitely want to expand that program.”

#lee-rev-content { margin:0 -5px; } #lee-rev-content h3 { font-family: inherit!important; font-weight: 700!important; border-left: 8px solid var(–lee-blox-link-color); text-indent: 7px; font-size: 24px!important; line-height: 24px; } #lee-rev-content .rc-provider { font-family: inherit!important; } #lee-rev-content h4 { line-height: 24px!important; font-family: “serif-ds”,Times,”Times New Roman”,serif!important; margin-top: 10px!important; } @media (max-width: 991px) { #lee-rev-content h3 { font-size: 18px!important; line-height: 18px; } } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article { clear: both; background-color: #fff; color: #222; background-position: bottom; background-repeat: no-repeat; padding: 15px 0 20px; margin-bottom: 40px; border-top: 4px solid rgba(0,0,0,.8); border-bottom: 1px solid rgba(0,0,0,.2); display: none; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article, #pu-email-form-daily-email-article p { font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, “Segoe UI”, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif, “Apple Color Emoji”, “Segoe UI Emoji”, “Segoe UI Symbol”; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article h2 { font-size: 24px; margin: 15px 0 5px 0; font-family: “serif-ds”, Times, “Times New Roman”, serif; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .lead { margin-bottom: 5px; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .email-desc { font-size: 16px; line-height: 20px; margin-bottom: 5px; opacity: 0.7; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article form { padding: 10px 30px 5px 30px; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .disclaimer { opacity: 0.5; margin-bottom: 0; line-height: 100%; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .disclaimer a { color: #222; text-decoration: underline; } #pu-email-form-daily-email-article .email-hammer { border-bottom: 3px solid #222; opacity: .5; display: inline-block; padding: 0 10px 5px 10px; margin-bottom: -5px; font-size: 16px; } @media (max-width: 991px) { #pu-email-form-daily-email-article form { padding: 10px 0 5px 0; } } .grecaptcha-badge { visibility: hidden; }

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>