Breathing Room: Unanimous Vote Means New Shelter Director Doesn’t Need Permission To Save Animals

CHESTERFIELD CO., S.C. – The Chesterfield County Animal Shelter’s new director Teresa Yoder has a little more breathing room to do what she’s been hired to do: run the shelter well. That includes deciding whether an animal should be allowed to live past a 21 day hold.

The community showed up in force at Wednesday morning’s Chesterfield Co. Council meeting. “I do not know or understand this effort to euthanize our animals after 21 days, but I warn you, do not be fooled into thinking this is some fiscally responsible cost-cutting measure,” Carlos Perez told the council. Perez is one of the shelter’s former directors. He also said, “During my short tenure as director, not one animal was euthanized due to lack of space. Not one.”

County council member Mary Anderson met the public’s demands halfway, making a motion to strike a section of policy that would force the shelter director to seek permission from County Administrator Tim Eubanks to extend a 21 day hold and keep an animal alive. “I think that the director absolutely has the capacity to take care of overseeing what’s happening at the facility,” Anderson told her peers.

Council got on board with Anderson’s idea, voting unanimously that the director should have independence from the county administrator.

After the meeting, another former shelter director told us council made the right call. Jim McGonigal, who many credit with engineering the shelter’s turn around from a hell hole to the gold standard several years ago, says now council needs to get to work on fixing another shelter issue. He says, “They have to let the rescues and volunteers go back into the non public areas (of the shelter) to move (i.e. campaign on social media, exercise, assist, etc.) the animals.”

“We can’t go backwards,” says Mary Margaret Hancock, a volunteer who lives in Cheraw. She says all she wants to do is help the county’s homeless animals. “I’m there to help. Been trying to help. Been shut out the whole time.”

Volunteers haven’t been allowed access to the non-public areas of the shelter since the pandemic started. Critics say county leaders used the pandemic as an excuse, and that the real reason was to prevent problems at the shelter from being made public. We will keep you posted.