Animal euthanasia ordinance proposed for Anderson after owner shoots family dog

June 26, 2016

Five months after a dog was shot, blinded and left to die by her owner, Anderson County Council took the first steps Tuesday even to create a stricter ordinance on how animal owners could treat their pets by proposing a new ordinance on animal euthanasia after a dog was shot by her owner,Herald Online.com reported June 26.

Amara, a 2-year-old boxer was found wandering on Mystic Cove Lane in Townville on January 28, where an officer with Anderson County Animal Control took her to Anderson County P.A.W.S, the local shelter located in Anderson, South Carolina. A veterinarians x-ray showed Amara had been shot in the head. She was seriously underweight and had sores on her head.
An investigation began into how Amara was found in the condition she was found in, but only after media attention brought the horrific circumstances to light. Anderson County Sheriff’s Office located Amara’s owner, who told investigators he shot the boxer 19 days she was found because Amara had become aggressive after having puppies and had bitten his pregnant wife.
When the owner couldn’t find a new home for Amara, he took her to a boat ramp near Apple Island, led her into the woods, shot her and then left her to die in the rain.

Since the owner was never charged, Sheriff John Skipper refused to release his name. The Anderson County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation, but only after the case received media attention from the Independent Mail and other outlets. The owner of the dog told investigators he shot the boxer 19 days before she was found, according to Sheriff John Skipper.

The owner told investigators that the dog became aggressive after having puppies and had bitten his pregnant wife. The owner said he tried to find someone to take the boxer, but when no one would, he made the decision to take her to a boat ramp near Apple Island, lead her to a wooded area, and shoot her. As rain poured from the sky, he left her for dead.

The owner was never charged with any crime. Because of that, investigators with the Sheriff’s Office have refused to disclose his identity. Skipper said the owner likely wasn’t charged because of the way South Carolina animal laws are written stating

“In our statutes, a dog is your property,” he said. “There is no statute that says you cannot euthanize your own dog.”

Magistrate Mary Frances Cole refused to press charges against Amara’s owner. No charges being filed has been placed on the actions of Sheriff Skipper. In South Carolina, dogs are considered property and owners are allowed to do what they wish to their property.

Amara was rescued by Heidi Wagner, founder of Boxer Butts and Other Mutts, a North Carolina rescue based out of Arden. Heidi was so enraged about how Amara’s case was handled that she publicly endorsed Chad McBride in the race for Anderson County sheriff. McBride defeated Skipper and Jeremy Pickens in the Republican primary held June 14 stating

“I don’t know what goes on in that agency, in that county, that makes this kind of thing acceptable instead of outrageous. This ordinance is a step in the right direction, but, boy, they have a long way to go.”

Anderson County Councilman is pushing to get the new ordinance passed and agrees with the proposed ordinance which says

“If the animal is unwanted, it must be taken to a certified shelter or recognized rescue shelter,” the ordinance reads. “Shooting of a canine with a firearm for the purpose of euthanasia is prohibited unless the animal has been severely injured and it is the only way to prevent undue suffering.”

Under the new regulations, a domesticated dog may only be euthanized by a veterinarian or a licensed euthanasia technician. Exceptions would be made for animals believed to be rabid, or those attacking livestock or personal property. Anyone who breaks the new ordinance would be guilty of a misdemeanor. The ordinance has to go through two more readings, and will likely be passed in August.

Allen says enforcement is key, and that is where the problem will lie. Sheriff Skipper says if the ordinance is passed he and animal control officers will do what needs to be done. Evidence will have to be gathered and law enforcement will make the final decision on what needs to be done and whether charges should be filed against an owner.

McBride addressed the proposed ordinance and has promised to evaluate the way animal control acts when he takes office in January. Let’s hope these aren’t empty promises, as Upstate South Carolina is notorious for refusing to help dogs whose owners are reported to local police as abusers. Deputies either won’t come out to investigate, or they investigate and determine a dog without a property doghouse with no food or water is acceptable.

Meanwhile, Amara is doing great under Heidi’s excellent care. She’s still afraid of loud noises, but she romps and plays, despite being blind. Heidi reports Amara is a survivor and full of love. Amara is also being a ‘mother’ toward kittens brought into the rescue, especially to an orange kitten named Leo. They often sleep together.

Given the history of animal abuse cases in Upstate South Carolina, can we really expect change to be enforced in Anderson County under new laws and new management? Your comments are welcome.

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