Stopping puppy mills and animal abuse in Horry and Georgetown counties was the topic of discussion Wednesday night during a meeting of Animal Voice Alliance at the Carolina Forest Recreation Center.
The newly formed group is taking a grassroots approach to changing animal welfare laws along the Grand Strand and in the state, said Jen Seay, AVA director.
“Our goal is to change legislation and we will be working as a group,” Seay said. “We want to strengthen animal welfare laws in South Carolina specifically in Horry and Georgetown counties.”
About 30 people attended the meeting where AVA organizers asked that people interested in joining the group do so. Group members will introduce themselves Tuesday night to Horry County Council at its 6 p.m. meeting in Conway. They also plan to hold monthly meetings, peaceful protests and animal welfare rallies in the future.
“If we are talking to and educating the public it makes a difference and it starts with one person,” Seay said. She also urged anyone who sees animal abuse to report it to authorities.
The group formed after Horry County authorities took 146 dogs in what police called a puppy mill case from Conway area resident Renee James, Seay said. James relinquished custody of the dogs to county officials and they have been adopted by area residents.
James’ case was one of three in a month where authorities seized animals and fined their owners.
On March 5, Horry County police seized 37 dogs, including some show dogs and one that was recognized at the Westminster Kennel Club, from a Conway area couple. Eduardo and Amber Chaviano were ordered to pay $3,160 in restitution to the Horry County Animal Care Center and clean up their home within 30 days.
A day before the Chaviano seizure, officers took James’ 146 dogs.
Jon Peret, an adoption coordinator and volunteer at All 4 Paws, said Wednesday night that his group took in 74 dogs from the puppy mill seizure and all were adopted. Some needed baths and haircuts while others had open sores, broken bones and more serious health issues, he said.
“To see that up close and personal and to put your hands on that will shake your faith in humanity,” Peret said and noted the group also took in 17 dogs seized in the Chaviano case.
The organization spent $28,100 in veterinary care for the seized dogs before they were adopted, he said. The costs were paid for through donations to the organization.
“It was all paid for by people with hearts like yours,” Peret said.
If you want to join the group with they will also be holding a meeting at 6:30 p.m. June 17 at the Santee Cooper building on Elm Street in Conway. An animal rights rally is planned for May 30 in Columbia on the state capital grounds.
For more information about Animal Voice Alliance go to www.avasc.org, their facebook page called Animal Voice Alliance or on twitter @AVASC.
Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or on Twitter @tonyaroot.