Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando County Animal Service to add three staffers

BROOKSVILLE — For animal advocates hoping to see positive changes at Hernando County Animal Services, Tuesday offered not just one win but two.

County Commissioners approved a reorganization plan that will add a veterinarian manager, two other staffers and the assistance of jail trustees — just as public safety director Mike Nickerson had recommended.

But the commission wasn't ready to discuss the proposed new animal services ordinance, which many animal welfare activists strongly opposed. In fact, as the meeting began Tuesday in the standing-room-only commission chambers, Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes asked for a show of hands from people there to talk new animal ordinance.

Most of the hands in the room shot up.

Dukes and the other commissioners acknowledged that they had each received hundreds of emails in the last couple of days from all over the world urging the commission not pass the ordinance, which first became public with the release of the agenda on Friday.

"There are some things in there that are either unclear or misleading,'' he said, noting that there was no way to hear the issue Tuesday. "We can't fix it today. It's not fair to you and not fair to us with this much interest and this many questions."

Dukes promised the people crowding the room that county staff would meet with their key representatives to redraft the ordinance before it is scheduled to come back before the commission on Nov. 13.

County officials have been anxious to get a handle on issues at Animal Services for months. The premature euthanization of a dog named Zeus in April, a critical review from the University of Florida and a series of findings and recommendations by an auditor all led to Tuesday's recommendations to the commission.

The reviews recommended adding five staff members but, conscious of the county's current budget issues, Nickerson trimmed that to three new staff members. One will be a veterinarian who also serves as shelter manager. One will be an animal advocate and coordinator of rescues and volunteers. The third is a veterinarian technician. Jail trustees will round out the additional help planned for Animal Services.

The cost is $245,000 and this year's share of that was to come out of the county's reserves. Commissioners didn't settle on how to pay the cost into the future.

Dukes noted that many of the emails the commissioners received on animal services were not from county citizens and he noted that many of the headline-producing mistakes made at the shelter were due to people not following the rules.

He suggested that what was really needed was a strong leader and "to fix this from the top down.''

But Nickerson stood his ground on the issue of fully implementing the audit recommendations. He said that even a strong leader can't fix everything when animal services staff has been decimated by cuts in recent years. He blamed himself and partially former animal and code services director Liana Teague for perhaps not fighting strongly enough for the needs of the department.

Laurie Boynton, the volunteer who first blew the whistle on the Zeus case, praised the addition of the needed staff especially the animal advocate to ensure that someone inside animal services was working with the same goal as the volunteers — to save more animals.

"You know how important this issue is in Hernando County, that animals are treated humanely,'' she said.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando County Animal Service to add three staffers 10/23/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 8:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Days were lost': Why Puerto Rico is still suffering a month after Hurricane Maria


    MAUNABO, PUERTO RICO — Before Hurricane Maria tore through the rest of this island, it came to Mayor Jorge Márquez's home.

    A man wades through a flooded road, past a boat, in the Toa Ville community two days after the impact of Hurricane Maria in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Because of flooding, thousands of people are being evacuated from Toa Baja after the municipal government opened the gates of the Rio La Plata Dam. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti) CGPR130
  2. With college looming, Channel Drive band finds a way to keep on rocking

    Human Interest

    A year and a half.

    That's the time Channel Drive, a band made up of local high school students, had to organize concerts, create music, produce an album and perform in front of audiences before three-fourths of the group were to leave for college.

    One of Channel Drive’s favorite venues is the Brass Mug in North Tampa. Here, from left to right, Colby Williams, Jacob Fleming and Ricardo Ponte command the stage while Alex Carr handles drums.
  3. Florida's unemployment hits 3.8 percent, lowest since April 2007

    Economic Development

    Florida's unemployment rate continued its downward tear in September to hit 3.8 percent — the lowest since April 2007 — as the state lost 127,400 jobs over the month.

    Florida's unemployment rate dropped from 4 percent in August to 3.8 percent in September. Pictured is 
Shantia Blackmon (left),from St. Petersburg, talking with Jocelyn Kelley from North Carolina at a Pinellas Schools County Job Fair in June. | [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Study: When you die, your brain knows you're dead


    Have you ever wondered what happens after you die?

    According to a new study from NYU, researchers say that a person's brain may function after their death. [iStockPhoto]

  5. Gradebook podcast: On HB 7069, with Palm Beach schools superintendent Robert Avossa


    After months of discussion, several Florida school districts filed suit against the Legislature over the contentious HB 7069, calling parts of it unconstitutional. At the same time, some of them also sought grant funding established in the same measure. The Palm Beach County school district did both. Superintendent …

    Palm Beach superintendent Robert Avossa