Failure to keep an eye on Fido or Fifi just became a little more expensive, as the Scotland County Humane Society has implemented a graduated fee system for owners seeking to reclaim their pets from the shelter.
“Unfortunately dogs do come back once and twice and thrice again,” said Sara Hatchell, director of the J.D. and Fran Asher Animal Shelter.
The shelter, a nonprofit agency, houses stray animals that local residents drop off as well as cats and dogs picked up by city and county animal control officers.
The fee for the first time an animal is reclaimed is now $25. Fees for the second and third reclaim of the same animal are $50 and $75, not including fees for vaccinations given to every animal that enters the shelter.
In July, the shelter had 16 animals reclaimed by their owners. “Last month we had 16, but that was because it was the Fourth of July and everybody’s dog runs off when the fireworks start,” Hatchell said.
On average, eight to 10 animals are reclaimed monthly, about half of those being cases where a dog has been impounded after biting a human. “Sometimes someone will reclaim a stray, and probably three to five every month are bite cases where we have to hold on to them for 3 days at a time,” said Hatchell.
By keeping their pets under control and out of situations where they could cause harm to themselves or to the public, dog owners will save time and money in the long run.
“Animal control requires the owner of any dog who has bitten someone to build a structure or a fence that they can’t get out of,” said Hatchell.
To reduce the likelihood that their pets will exhibit aggression, dog owners can ensure that their pets have been spayed or neutered.
“Dogs that actually bite people are most likely hormonally frustrated from being left out and tied to a fence - they become aggressive to humans as well as animals,” Hatchell said. “Taking away their hormones greatly reduces their drive to do that.”