ABBEVILLE CO., S.C. (Index-Journal) – At the end of a mile long dead-end road next to a sewage treatment plant, sits Abbeville County’s lone animal shelter, a brick structure with a tin roof that houses 16 kennels and a handful of cages for cats.
Every day, Chris Wilson, the City of Abbeville’s lone animal control officer and the shelter’s only employee, is faced with the seemingly impossible task of accommodating every stray cat and dog in the small building.
Tim Hall, the City of Abbeville’s director of public works, acknowledged that there are improvements to be made but said that things were improving.
“We can’t predict the future with a crystal ball but there’s been a lot of improvement here,” Hall said.
The construction of a $250,000 animal shelter is currently listed on the ballot to receive funding from the Penny Sales Tax, which Wilson said is encouraging but far from a final solution.
“It’s an acknowledgement that they know it’s a problem that we’ve had for a while and something that’s gonna have to be addressed,” Wilson said.
Wilson works seven days a week, answering calls about strays, cleaning the kennels, feeding the animals and running the shelter’s social media.
“When this place is full it can easily take two and half hours just for one guy to clean and make sure the animals are getting their needs met, and if we get a call, we have to drop what we’re doing here at a moment’s notice,” Wilson said. “So that’s definitely my biggest challenge, is time management.”
In addition to his other responsibilities, Wilson alone is responsible for euthanizing the animals, a task that he says takes a toll.
“You get attached to a lot of these animals and a lot of these animals get attached to you,” Wilson said. “Eventually you can get depressed, and it’s a challenge to combat that and try to keep a positive outlook.”
According to reports from animal control, 430 cats and dogs have been brought to the shelter since the start of 2016. Of them, 282, or about 66 percent, were put down — all by Wilson.
On the other hand, only about 20 percent were adopted or rescued.
According to Wilson, it’s difficult to attract potential adopters because even if they were aware of the shelter’s existence, which he says many are not, they are not allowed to enter because it sits on private property. Because of this, Wilson said he relies primarily on social media to raise awareness.
Wilson said the month of July was particularly taxing, with 106 intakes, (the highest in his five years with animal control), and 73 animals euthanized
According to Wilson, despite an overcrowding in the kennel and a high percentage of intakes being euthanized, he and the one animal control officer at the Sheriff’s office do not have the resources to adequately address the county’s needs.
“The animal shelter situation over here is very urgent,” Wilson said. “It is something I feel is of the utmost importance.”
To learn more about pet adoption, call Abbeville Animal Services at (864)394-1122 or visit www.abbevillecitysc.com/animalservices. Animals up for adoption can also be found atwww.petango.com/abbeville.