A Bill to Ban Spaying and Neutering? - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

A Bill to Ban Spaying and Neutering?

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Aiken County, SC -

A puppy's fuzzy face can be hard to say no to, but there's a problem with puppies.

"Puppies grow up," says Jim Rhodes, of Aiken Equine Rescue. Rhodes recently rescued multiple litters of puppies from the local animal shelter.

When puppies do grow up, if they aren't spayed or neutered the problem multiplies.

"You have hundreds and hundreds of dogs running around having more puppies," says former Perry, South Carolina mayor Al Brodie. "It's a perpetual cycle."

A Wagener resident says she's seen this too many times, and has even taken strays to be spayed.

"[Otherwise] you have cats dead on the side of the road, dogs showing up at our house paper thin, not fed, and half dead," says Kim Nisbet.

That's why the towns of Wagener and Perry were excited to have a low-cost clinic come to them.  Friends of the Animal Shelter, a group affiliated with Aiken's county shelter, works to increase spaying and neutering for a low-cost

That's why the towns of Wagner and Perry were excited to have a low-cost clinic come to the

"We spayed and neutered around 160," says member Joya Distefano.  Over years that could reduce the unwanted population by thousands because it keeps those puppies' puppies from having puppies.

"It will be a positive effect 10, 20, 50 years from now," says Wagener Mayor Michael Miller.

Peggy Emmerick is one Wagener resident who used that clinic.  Gizmo is her close companion.

"They love you unconditionally," she says of her pets.

She lives alone on social security and her husband's pensions, and says going to a vet for the procedure is a price she couldn't' pay.

"The way the economy is, it's hard to keep your head above water," she says.

So a bill to cut back on spaying and neutering?

"It's absolutely stupid. The bill is nothing but to line the pockets of the vets."

Representative David Hiott, sponsor of the bill says it is about pockets:  Being sure your tax dollars aren't lining the pockets of groups who claim to be a low-cost life line, and are operating as a normal business providing other services.  This Aiken vet says she supports legitimate clinics like the one operated by Friends of The Animal Shelter.

"They get you going," says Dr. Holly Woltz.  "As long as they stay in that capacity, we should embrace them."

But, like Representative Hiott, she says other services shouldn't be subsidized, like grooming, boarding, dental work.

"They're worried they're going to become the primary care physician for the dogs," she says.  "Diagnosing diseases, adding X-Rays, doing blood work."

Animal advocates say the people who use low cost clinics and those who go to vets are two very different groups and it wouldn't take away business.

Of the dogs spayed and neutered in Wagener, Miller says, "99 percent of those would never have been spayed or neutered."

And that would mean more four legged friends who wouldn't make it.

"It hurts your heart," Rhodes says.

Something no one wants to see.

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