Friday, April 20, 2018
News Roundup

Solutions sought for rising number of abandoned pets

SPRING HILL — From operators and volunteers at small independent rescue groups to animal welfare activists to everyday pet owners, they all came looking for answers.

What to do about Hernando County's burgeoning population of stray and abandoned animals?

About 250 people attended the town hall meeting Tuesday evening at the Palace Grand to listen and ask questions of people in the community whose task it is oversee the welfare of unwanted pets.

A panel consisting of Hernando County public safely director Mike Nickerson; Humane Society of the Nature Coast executive director Joanne Schoch; SPCA volunteer director David Raponi; Liv Burke, founder of Compassion for All His Creatures; and ASAP Animal Clinic owner Dr. Raul Figarola listened intently to often emotional testimonies.

Audience members addressed a number of issues, including the county's policy prohibiting the release of sterilized feral cats into the wild.

But most seemed to agree with Lisa Lewis, owner of CARES Rescue in Brooksville, who blames the increase of abandoned pets on people who are simply unwilling to accept the responsibility of pet ownership.

"Not everyone who wants a pet deserves a pet," Lewis said. "If it's not in your heart to care for an animal, why bring it home?"

The moderated discussion was prompted in part by the controversy surrounding the death last month of an 8-month-old mixed-breed dog named Zeus that was put to sleep shortly after arriving at the county Animal Services shelter. The incident prompted a suspension of all but medically necessary euthanasias at the shelter until an internal audit of the department's practices is completed in the next few weeks.

Nickerson did not comment on the Zeus incident, but did say that conditions have improved greatly at the shelter. While "live outcomes" have increased significantly during the past two years, he said he felt there was more room for improvement.

"We need to get better," Nickerson said. "And we're going to work hard very hard toward that goal."

Schoch admitted that only a communitywide approach is likely to stem the flood of stray and abandoned animals that are overwhelming both public and private resources. She urged those in attendance to work together, as well as with county shelter officials, to find solutions.

"It's going to take an army to make these changes," Schoch told the audience. "The euthanasias will stop only when the community as a whole wants it to."

Logan Neill can be reached at (352) 848-1435 or [email protected]

Comments
Rays DFA Brandon Snyder to activate Brad Miller

Rays DFA Brandon Snyder to activate Brad Miller

The Rays activated INF Brad Miller off the DL for Friday's game.Miller had been out 11 days due to a groin strain.To make room on the roster, they DFA'd INF/OF Brandon Snyder, who was called up on Tuesday.
Updated: 6 minutes ago
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure. Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next ...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Suspect in Gilchrist deputies’ slayings has Tampa Bay ties

Suspect in Gilchrist deputies’ slayings has Tampa Bay ties

The man identified as the suspect who fatally shot two Gilchrist County deputies in a restaurant Thursday afternoon before taking his own life has ties to the Tampa Bay area.Deputies say John Hubert Highnote, 59, of Bell — who was found dead outside ...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Rowdies prepared to press on without defender David Najem

Rowdies prepared to press on without defender David Najem

SAINT PETERSBURG — When describing the loss of defender David Najem, Rowdies head coach Stuart Campbell and the player who will replace Najem chose the same word.Gutted.That settled over the Rowdies last weekend, one that was bad enough based o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Authorities say motive in deputy killings may never be known

Authorities say motive in deputy killings may never be known

TRENTON — Investigators in Florida say they may never know why a man - a recluse from a rural farm community who rarely ventured into town - killed two sheriff’s deputies while they sat in a Chinese restaurant. John Hubert Highnote, 58, of Bell casua...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Shaquem Griffin is about to join a long line of NFL draft picks from Lakewood

Shaquem Griffin is about to join a long line of NFL draft picks from Lakewood

ST. PETERSBURG — Former Lakewood High coach Brian Bruch started each season with the same spiel. He cautioned his players about not becoming obsessed with a professional football career, reciting statistics to emphasize the difficult the odds o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Producer and DJ Avicii has been found dead

Producer and DJ Avicii has been found dead

Avicii, the Grammy-nominated electronic dance DJ who performed sold-out concerts for feverish fans around the world and also had massive success on U.S. pop radio, died Friday. He was 28. Publicist Diana Baron said in a statement that the Swedish per...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts today

Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts today

High school students from around the Tampa Bay area are participating in the National School Walkout today commemorating the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 and calling for gun law reform.A large group of students from St. Petersburg High ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

Bucs’ Jameis Winston, Mike Evans catch Miami Heat game from courtside

We've seen Jameis Winston and Mike Evans bonding this offseason, going to Texas A&M pro day together, among other events. The two Bucs stars and their significant others double-dated Thursday night, getting courtside seats to watch the Miami Heat in ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Man gets life sentence in Freedom High student’s 2015 shooting death

Man gets life sentence in Freedom High student’s 2015 shooting death

TAMPA — After David Brunson murdered an 18-year-old Freedom High School senior, he told a witness the victim was "just some ghetto kid nobody will miss."But people do miss Eion Gustitis.More than two years after Gustitis was shot in the head in a rem...
Updated: 2 hours ago