Shelly Simmons is the Division Manager for Greenville County Animal Care and has been helping to save homeless animals for 22 years.
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In 2016, Greenville County announced its mission to build a no-kill community for animals. The reasons were obvious at the time: our county’s open admission animal shelter, Greenville County Animal Care, was taking in over 17,000 dogs and cats each year and finding life-saving solutions for just six out of every ten. That means 40% of our community’s lost and stray pets were being euthanized. I’ll do the math for you – that’s close to 7,000 animals killed each year. And while that many animals dying is appalling to think about, our community was euthanizing 80% of its lost and homeless pets just ten years prior.
The plan to build a no-kill community is pretty straightforward. Develop and improve community programs that reduce the number of animals that need shelter in the first place and build up other life-saving programs and initiatives for the animals that must enter our community’s animal shelter. In doing so, Greenville County will save every healthy and treatable pet.
From 2016-2018, a community cat program started in Greenville County, free spaying and neutering for outdoor cats, large dogs, and low-income pet owners is offered to our citizens, and a pet retention program to assist people who may need to rehome their animals allows pet owners to find alternatives to turning their pet into an already-crowded animal shelter. Foster care programs amped up, adoption fees were lowered to just $35, and a non-profit organization, Partners in Animal Care, formed to help reach even more animal supporters in our community and raise money to save the lives of more animals in our local shelter.
Progress has been impressive. Our animal shelter now takes in 8,000 fewer dogs and cats annually than they did before the no-kill community plan was put in place. 88% of the estimated 90% of pets that can be saved in our local shelter are saved, and each year more opportunities for life-saving develop as more of our community gets involved. It’s something to really appreciate as Greenvillians, to rally behind and support, but not just because lives are being saved.
There is a social, environmental, and economic impact on cities and counties that invest in no-kill community plans. We have seen this happen in other areas of the country. Austin, TX, is one of the most prominent animal-friendly, no-kill communities in the US. A 2017 study out of the University of Denver conservatively estimated that Austin has seen a $157,452,503 total positive economic impact on the city since passing their life-saving no-kill resolution.
The study also concluded that building a no-kill community led to increased jobs and relocation of businesses to Austin. In fact, search engine powerhouse, Google, decided to build a new office skyscraper there and directly attributed their decision to the idea that Austin is attractive to a “young, vibrant, pet-loving workforce.”
Greenvillians have a hometown to be proud of for so many different reasons. We have everything a distinguished, growing community should have and we are so close to achieving a no-kill community for our animals. Saving the lives of every healthy and treatable animal in Greenville County is not only possible, it’s within our reach. Be a part of this momentous achievement by joining the winning team of staff, volunteers, donors, fosters, sponsors, and supporters at greenvillepets.org.