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EDITORIAL: People work hard to save cats and dogs
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EDITORIAL: People work hard to save cats and dogs

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If there’s ever been a time for people and their pets to grow even closer, the coronavirus emergency is it. People are at home more with family – and for many, family includes or is a pet or pets.

The good news is that in the first-ever no-kill rankings by Best Friends Animal Society, a lot more animals are surviving to become pets. And South Carolina does better than most states in saving potential pets.

Research by Best Friends, a national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America's shelters, shows the number of dogs and cats killed annually in the United States has dropped from about 733,000 to 625,000 (or about 1,700 killed per day). Best Friends also released an inaugural state-by-state ranking of the data and South Carolina ranks No. 16 in the country for pet shelter deaths.

Of the 111,474 dogs and cats that entered South Carolina shelters in 2019, 90,233 found positive placements, while 10,911 were killed, for a save rate of 80.95%. Currently 27.87% of South Carolina shelters are no-kill (a state is considered to be no-kill when every brick-and-mortar shelter serving and/or located within the state has a save rate of 90% or higher). Compared to 2018, there was a statewide reduction in shelter deaths by 6,511, so South Carolina reduced its lifesaving gap by 37.7%.

The top five states where the most pets need to be saved are California, Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Louisiana, which together make up more than 50% of the nation’s shelter killing of dogs and cats. While the top five states with the smallest number of pets being killed are Vermont, Rhode Island, North Dakota, New Hampshire and Delaware, which has once again reached no-kill status in the state (a state is considered to be no-kill when every brick-and-mortar shelter serving and/or located within the state has a save rate of 90% or higher).

Notable highlights from the Best Friends findings are:

• Across the U.S., about 5.4 million dogs and cats entered shelters in 2019, and 4.2 million were saved, making the national save rate 79.02% (2018 was 76.6%).

• There are 2,126 no-kill shelters nationwide (up 15% from 2018), which means that 44% of the nation’s shelters are now no-kill.

• Despite continued progress, just 35% of communities around the country are considered no-kill (up from 28% in 2018).

• Of the total number of pets killed, 30.9% are dogs and 69.1% are cats (2018 was 32.9% dogs and 67.1% cats).

“We are seeing continued momentum and progress towards the goal of ending the killing of dogs and cats in U.S. shelters by the year 2025, with the overall number of pets being killed in the U.S. continuing to go down and the number of shelters that are no kill going up,” said Julie Castle, chief executive officer of Best Friends.

“For the past several years, Best Friends and progressive shelters nationwide have been changing the way they do business and the way they relate to their communities: simplifying adoption policies and requirements; building out community pet fostering programs; implementing trap, neuter, return programs for community cats; passing more pet-friendly legislation to combat the retail sale of puppy mill dogs and breed discrimination; advocating for more pet-inclusive housing, and removing barriers for the public to help pets with the use of technology. And it is making a difference.”

“Best Friends has always believed that anyone can help homeless pets. You don’t need a rescue label, special credentials or permission to help save animals. Individual community members are the no-kill movement’s greatest resource. Putting this data directly into the hands of the public allows individual community members and advocates to gain a better understanding of exactly which shelters and types of pets are most in need of help and helps to connect them to those shelters.”

If the number of animals being saved surprises you, know there are good people working hard to save animals right here at home. If you need help or want to help, they’ll welcome your support:

• SPCA, 225 Ruf Road, Orangeburg, South Carolina 29118 www.orangeburgspca.org 803-536-3918

• For Love of the Paw, 2610 Cleveland St., Elloree, South Carolina 29047 www.fortheloveofapaw.org 803-331-8267

• Second Chance of Orangeburg Animal Rescue Coalition 803-535-9600

• Lakeside Animal Rescue, PO Box 571, Holly Hill SC 29059 lakesideanimalrescue@gmail.com, lakesideanimalrescue.com

• Healing Species, info@healingspecies.org, www.healingspecies.org 803-535-6543

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