Some political power players in Aiken on Tuesday.  South Carolina’s newly-elected Lieutenant Governor was the guest speaker at the Aiken Republican Club luncheon.

We talked to business woman, turned Lt. Governor Pamela Evette about the new legislation passed by South Carolina lawmakers related to animal welfare. 

“It’s hard to think that in this day in age that people are still mean and cruel to animals, but they are and so sometimes you have to help ones that can’t talk for themselves,” Lt. Gov. Evette said. 

Lt. Gov. Evette is a horse owner who felt right at home in Aiken. 

“[The new laws] just makes it better for all the people who put so much time and effort into animals and animal rights and keeping animals safe, that their voice is being heard in Columbia,” the Lt. Governor said. 

The legislation will improve the quality of life for companion animals in seven key ways:

  • Training magistrates in animal cruelty: Magistrates will now be better informed before making rulings in animal cruelty cases.
  • Decreasing stray hold times for litters of cats and dogs: This will make kittens and puppies available for adoptions much more quickly, increasing their quality of life and decreasing costs to shelters.
  • Providing for cost of care reimbursement to organizations holding abused animals through the trial of defendants: This will stop defendants from deliberately stalling court proceedings to burden shelters holding their animals. If the shelter can no longer hold the animal, charges are sometimes dropped against the defendant.
  • Prioritizing spay/neuter license plate funds to go to impoverished counties: When people purchase the Spay/Neuter license plate, the funds will now go to poorer counties that need funds to provide spay/neuter services to residents’ pets.
  • Expediting the process for out-of-state veterinarians to respond to local disasters: When hurricanes or flooding happen in South Carolina, this new provision will allow out-of-state veterinarians to assist evacuations and rescues in a much quicker and smoother fashion.
  • Amending state law to provide for the sterilization of stray cats: Recognizes Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR) as a population reduction method for outdoor cats.
  • Amends state law regarding spay/neuter to replace the term “refuge” with “rescue organization”: Updates state law to use more modern terminology

“My first thought was fantastic,” Pam White said. “Then again, tethering was taken out.” 

White went to school to be a vet tech and now rescues animals. She like many animal activists is disappointed that lawmakers dropped two elements to pass the bill. One would have set up minimal humane conditions in animal shelters. The other would set guidelines for tethering. 

“The laws still aren’t rough enough. They’re still not tough enough,” White said. 

The tethering ordinance did not go through at the state level; however, both Aiken County and the City of Aiken have their own laws related to tying up animals.

Moving forward, both White and the Lt. Governor encourage you to support local organizations that save animals.

“The heartbeat of helping any cause is the people, the people that run organizations and the people that run shelters,” LT. Gov. Evette said. 

White says even if you do not have the time, speak up about the issues that matter to you. 

“You don’t have to necessarily put a lot of time in, but maybe support them on their Facebook pages. Just do whatever you can to get legislature to start listening more,” White says. 

Governor Henry McMaster signed the animal welfare bill into law on May 16th.