Monday, May 28, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando officials will investigate same-day euthanization of dog at shelter

BROOKSVILLE — More than a dozen outraged animal lovers, many wearing T-shirts with the words "Never Again" emblazoned on the back, appeared before the Hernando County Commission on Tuesday, demanding answers.

But mostly, they were looking for justice for a scruffy, black-and-white, 8-month-old mixed-breed dog name Zeus, whose picture appeared on the front of the shirts.

Suzanne Whalen, a volunteer at the Hernando County Animal Services shelter in Brooksville, was among those who railed at the county employees who decided to euthanize Zeus shortly after he was brought in April 13 with the expectation he would be put up for adoption.

"I'm disgusted with them," Whalen shouted. "They enjoy killing animals."

During Tuesday's meeting, a little more than a week after Zeus' death, interim county administrator Ron Pianta declared that an independent audit would be launched to discover what occurred and hopefully prevent a similar incident in the future.

Pianta told county commissioners that a preliminary look into the incident convinced him that the department's policies and procedures regarding euthanasia need to reviewed.

"We want to figure out what the problem is and how to fix it," Pianta said. The system, he said, "can be improved."

Many of those who showed up in support of Zeus blamed inept department management and insufficiently trained staffers for the incident.

Animal Services volunteer Laurie Boynton, who met and photographed Zeus just moments before relatives of his owner surrendered him to the shelter, spoke emotionally of the pit bull mix that she felt would make a good adoption candidate.

When Boynton learned that Zeus had been euthanized after shelter staffers claimed the facility lacked weekend kennel space, she and other volunteers sent a flurry of emails to Hernando officials.

Boynton appeared before the commission with a poster montage of several animals she claimed had been euthanized unnecessarily.

"It is hell at the Hernando County shelter," she said.

Richard Silvani of the PetLuv Non-Profit Spay and Neuter Clinic condemned Animal Services director Liana Teague, who did not attend the meeting, and other staff members for perpetuating what he called a "culture of killing."

Silvani, whose clinic has an agreement with Animal Services to provide free medical services for animals in an effort to make them more adoptable, threatened to cancel the agreement if the county doesn't change the way it runs the shelter.

"We're at a crisis point," Silvani said. "We want to continue to help, but it has to be a two-way street."

Pianta said the investigation, which will be handled by the county's audit services staff, with support from human resources staffers, will look into policies and procedures regarding euthanasia, personnel training for kennel workers and Animal Services policies regarding owner surrender of animals.

The investigation also will consider whether any criminal activity took place in the handling of Zeus.

In the meantime, until the investigation is complete, all decisions regarding the need to euthanize animals will be made by the county's public safety director, Mike Nickerson. Animal Services employees involved in the Zeus incident will not be involved in euthanasia assessments.

In addressing the animal lovers, commission Chairman Wayne Dukes promised to find a way to prevent a similar incident from occurring.

"You don't expect the government to fail you, but we did," Dukes said. "This will not happen again."

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

Comments
Rays journal: Reliever Austin Pruitt pitches nearly six scoreless innings for second career save

Rays journal: Reliever Austin Pruitt pitches nearly six scoreless innings for second career save

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays RHP Austin Pruitt has started and worked out of the bullpen, in both short and long relief.But he did not expect to pick up his second career save Sunday by having to log 5⅔ innings, allowing only three hits whi...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Floodwaters surge in Maryland town

Floodwaters surge in Maryland town

Crews were engaged in multiple water rescues and buildings collapsed in historic Ellicott City on Sunday evening as floodwaters raged through its streets following torrential thunderstorms, Howard County, Maryland, officials said.Maryland Gov. Larry ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Orioles game

Rick Stroud’s takeaways from Sunday’s Rays-Orioles game

So the team that just got back from a 10-day, 11-game road trip in three time zones is headed back out west for Memorial Day? The Rays travel to Oakland, Calif., Seattle and Washington, D.C. It's the first time they visited the West Coast on back-to-...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays bats come alive with six-run rally to beat Orioles 8-3

Rays bats come alive with six-run rally to beat Orioles 8-3

ST. PETERSBURG — If you think the Rays are holding their pitching staff together with baling wire, duct tape and an overbooked shuttle to Triple-A Durham, a bigger story might be how their bats keep producing runs no matter who is swinging them...
Updated: 8 hours ago
RFK’s son: There was 2nd shooter

RFK’s son: There was 2nd shooter

Los Angeles Times (TNS)As the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy approaches, conspiracy theories still abound.The latest to back the theory of a second gunman is the senator’s son Robert F. Kennedy Jr.Sirhan B. Sirhan, a ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Visa woes have summer businesses hiring Puerto Ricans

Visa woes have summer businesses hiring Puerto Ricans

PHIPPSBURG, Maine — Frustrated by red tape and visa limits on foreign workers, tourism businesses from Maine to Missouri are turning to Puerto Ricans who are fleeing a shattered economy and devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. Bob Smith, owner of S...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Troopers looking for driver in New Port Richey fatal hit-and-run

Troopers looking for driver in New Port Richey fatal hit-and-run

NEW PORT RICHEYDriver surrenders after crash that kills bicyclistThe driver Florida Highway Patrol troopers say struck and killed a bicyclist then drove from the scene turned herself in Sunday afternoon.Shanna Marie Rampino surrendered a 2000 Toyota ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
A solemn display

A solemn display

Associated PressVisitors to Boston Commons in Boston last week pass 37,000 American flags planted to honor every Massachusetts resident killed in war dating to the Revolutionary War. The "flag garden" idea on Memorial Day started in Boston about a de...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Former President George H.W. Bush hospitalized in Maine

Former President George H.W. Bush hospitalized in Maine

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Former President George H.W. Bush was hospitalized Sunday in Maine after he experienced low blood pressure and fatigue, a spokesman said. Just after 2 p.m., Jim McGrath, a spokesman for the 93-year-old Bush, said he was awak...
Published: 05/27/18
None injured in Trinity rehab center fire

None injured in Trinity rehab center fire

TRINITY — No one was hurt Sunday morning after a fire broke out at a rehabilitation center.According to Pasco County Fire Rescue, Trinity Regional Rehab Center at 2144 Welbilt Blvd. is running on generator power after the blaze broke out about 10:30 ...
Published: 05/27/18