Saturday, April 21, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando discusses options for the future Animal Services

BROOKSVILLE — The staff has been accused of animal abuse and neglect. The operation has been scrutinized by veterinarians, volunteers and an auditor. County officials have even considered privatizing it. On Tuesday, the future of Hernando County Animal Services became even cloudier as commissioners considered options for their 2012-13 budget.

The commission agreed to begin negotiating with the sheriff for his takeover of the four Animal Services officers, while county staffers pitched an idea to restructure the other department that shares space and a manager at the shelter site — county Code Enforcement.

The discussion raised questions by some animal welfare advocates, who wanted to know why the county would even consider making such sweeping changes to the department before the release of the ongoing audit of Animal Services.

That audit and investigation was ordered after the euthanization of a young pit bull mix named Zeus in mid April. The dog was euthanized just 12 minutes after it was turned in by a family member for adoption, igniting a firestorm of criticism of the shelter and its staff.

Under the county staff proposal for Code Enforcement, the four existing code officers would move under the building official in the Land Services Department, along with an administrative secretary and a customer service employee. Supervising Code Enforcement would be the embattled Animal Services manager, Liana Teague.

Land Services director Ron Pianta said he had already talked to Teague about the possible change.

Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes questioned whether code enforcement was a state-mandated function. Pianta said it was not, but that it was something the public has come to expect.

Dukes suggested moving only two of the four officers and eliminating the other positions to help reduce the deficit in the county's general fund, but Pianta said the job couldn't be done adequately with that level of staffing.

Teague told commissioners the relocation of Code Enforcement would be a good move, but that with those employees leaving the shelter and the Animal Services officers going to the Sheriff's Office, there would be just four kennel workers and two support staffers left to run the shelter.

That's "not enough staff'' to provide for the animals and the community, she said.

Dukes asked if she had enough volunteers at the shelter. Teague said there are some volunteers who assist with animals and customer service, but that the core work of the shelter is done by the kennel workers, with some help from the Animal Service officers.

Commissioner Dave Russell asked Sheriff Al Nienhuis if help from the officers would still be allowed at the shelter if he begins to oversee them. Nienhuis said he would be a team player, but that he needed the animal officers who help his staff in responding to animal calls.

Working at the shelter, in addition to their enforcement work, also could create confusion over who reports to whom, he added.

Teague said the commission needed to find more resources for the shelter.

"That's where the audit is really going to help us,'' Russell said.

Audit Services director Peggy Caskey said last week that she anticipates release of the audit this month.

Joanne Schoch, executive director for the Humane Society of the Nature Coast, expressed concern about the proposed changes for Animal Services workers, especially since the audit findings have yet to be released.

"I have a real concern that this seems to be premature,'' Schoch said.

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

Comments
Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

Clearwater Central Catholic tops Dunedin Spring Tournament host in extra innings

DUNEDIN — After losing a four-run lead thanks to a bad sixth inning, it would have been easy for Clearwater Central Catholic to fold against Dunedin in the final of the 49th annual Dunedin Spring Tournament. But quality relief pitching from Gar...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

Span, Rays top Twins in 10 innings

ST. PETERSBURG — Roughly four hours before taking the field against his former team Friday, Rays outfielder Denard Span spoke admirably about the Minnesota Twins, their organization in general, even hometown icon Joe Mauer.But business is busin...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

BRANDON — Ryan McDonagh blocks shots. He competes for pucks in the corners and wins those battles. He moves the puck up the ice well. He can join the rush. He can shoot from the blue line. He kills penalties."It was a great pickup by (Lightning...
Updated: 5 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 20

Friday’s scoreboardSoftballSpringstead 15, Central 0
Updated: 5 hours ago
St. Pete says discharge never reached the bay. Its own report says otherwise.

St. Pete says discharge never reached the bay. Its own report says otherwise.

ST. PETERSBURG — The city said not one of the 266,000 gallons of reclaimed water released on Jan. 18 reached Tampa Bay.There was no mention of the waste released from the Northeast Water Reclamation Facility ever reaching the bay in the city’s notice...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Tampa Bay students voice opinions on gun laws during school walkouts

Nicole Leary and Taylor Redington stood outside St. Petersburg High School on Friday morning with parents and protesters who had gathered with bullhorns and signs. In a few minutes they would lead about 70 students on a walk to City Hall, joining oth...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Deputies: Woman in road rage incident targeted ... a school bus?

Deputies: Woman in road rage incident targeted ... a school bus?

TAMPA — Deputies are searching for a woman accused of blocking a special needs school bus with her car, getting out and banging and kicking on the bus door until she broke the glass.And there were four children inside, deputies said, as she shouted a...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

Sami Vatanen a big loss for Devils if he doesn’t play in Game 5

BRANDON – Devils top defenseman Sami Vatanen had not traveled to Tampa as of Friday afternoon, according to coach John Hynes, and his availability for Game 5 Saturday against the Lightning is in doubt.Hynes, however, did not rule out Vatan...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

TAMPA — Private developers would bear much of the cost of a new Rays stadium in Ybor City under a plan Hillsborough County officials are putting together.Developers would benefit by cashing in on commercial, retail and other construction around a ne...
Updated: 8 hours ago
St. Pete police search for missing 20-year-old woman

St. Pete police search for missing 20-year-old woman

ST. PETERSBURG — Officers are searching for a 20-year-old woman who they believe to be missing and who could be in danger.Kayla Brandi Boone was last seen at about 11 p.m. Thursday in the 2700 block of Fourth Street S, according to St. Petersburg pol...
Updated: 8 hours ago