SC Governor Henry McMaster holds ceremonial signing of new animal legislation

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AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — With a stroke of a pen in Aiken, South Carolina on Thursday, August 8, the state gave a clear message on its stance on animal welfare in the State.

“It is certainly a significant step forward,” President/CEO of the SPCA Albrecht Center Barbara Nelson said.

S-105 is meant to protect animals in the Palmetto State.

The bill is more than three years in the making. Lawmakers enacted the petcare and humane treatment study committee to improve animal welfare laws. “This committee consisted of a large group of public and private individuals and public interest which began to address issues concerning the excessive over-population of animals entering the shelter system,” Nelson added.

That group was tasked to study a number of items including improving cruelty and neglect laws and enforcement, study current shelter standards, and vet care in emergency situations like hurricanes.

“I want to compliment all of those who was involved for thinking of it and telling me what we need to do and sticking with it long enough to get it done,” Governor Henry McMaster said.

Now it’s a bill that the majority of state leaders agreed on.

“So this law is good. A lot of thought went into it a lot of time,” McMaster added.

There are a number of things the bill allows:

  • 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

Governor McMaster added that the signing of the bill is the work of many who saw a need in South Carolina and took action.

“Those of us in these positions of making laws can only make the laws that you tell us need to be made. Once we make the laws, it’s not up to us — it’s not up to the lawmakers to continue being involved in pushing it — it’s the people that wanted the laws made,” he said.

The bill was officially signed into law, May 16.

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