The Pickens County Animal Shelter is just weeks away from its grand opening on March 1, and after taking a tour of the impressive facility last week we feel praise should be given where praise is due.
The county and the sheriff’s office have not only joined heads to construct a quality, 120-bed shelter, they found creative ways to fund the project, saving taxpayers hundred of thousands of dollars and providing a service that has been sorely needed in this community for years.
The shelter is located on Camp Road in a building that was previously used for Pickens County Fire Station #11/EMS Station # 1, which was relocated to another building on Airport Drive. While it’s true the county paid out-of-pocket for the building near the airport in order to relocate, the needs of the station were outgrowing the facility and plans were in place to move stations 1 and 11.
The sheriff’s office also used nearly 100-percent inmate labor for construction and renovation, with Commissioner Rob Jones, who was an electrician prior to entering into local politics, stepping in to do wiring for the building pro bono. Without sacrificing quality, cutting these corners brought the cost of renovating the facility to just $115,000. Estimates for hiring the same job out were in the ballpark of $350,000 and constructing a building from the ground up would have cost well above half-a-million.
In an economy where hundreds of commercial and residential buildings are sitting empty across the county, we like seeing our local government use what’s already here rather than wasting resources on something new. The county’s approach was practical and responsible.
In the future taxpayers will save even more money because the county has opted to use inmates to clean the facility seven days a week, keeping just one full-time employee on staff, the shelter’s manager. Having inmates interact with animals on a daily basis will also act as a rehabilitation tool for those fortunate enough to work with the animals.
While we certainly understand the need for euthanasia at times and feel that a no-kill policy would be too idealistic and difficult to enforce, we were happy to hear that the shelter manager is working closely with Pickens Animal Rescue, other in-county, out-of-county and out-of-state rescue groups to keep the kill rate to a minimum.
We were also happy to hear that the shelter is going to enforce strict adoption policies, with all animals that are adopted out being required to receive the rabies vaccine, a microchip and to be either spayed or neutered.
Over time having this spay/neuter policy in place will go towards controlling overpopulation and unwanted animals in the county, but we would like to remind residents that this is no substitute for having your own pets fixed. The shelter does not replace the need for responsible pet ownership.
The Pickens County Animal Shelter is really the culmination of a long three-phase process, and we applaud county officials for following through in a timely and cost-efficient manner. The county first implemented animal ordinances, followed by the installment of animal control officers and finally, of course, the shelter itself.
Now when Pickens residents call animal control to report a stray or problem animal, officers will have somewhere to put them. Prior to the shelter’s opening many frustrated residents were put on lengthy wait lists.
What’s more, residents who want to add a little fluffster to their family can adopt a cat or dog and save a life in the meantime.
There’s no doubt in our mind that the new shelter is a win-win-win for the county, the residents and the animal population of Pickens. So after March 1 we encourage you to take a trip over to the facility and see what can happen when government is working for the people (and in this case, the animals) like it’s supposed to.