Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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 lneill@tampabay.com.

Hernando officials will investigate same-day euthanization of dog at shelter 04/24/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 11:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa man turns himself in for Sunday hit and run fatality

    Public Safety

    A Tampa man was arrested early Sunday after he struck and killed a pedestrian, left the scene, and then called 911 to turn himself in.

  2. Tom Jones' Two Cents: Bucs, Jaguars both get blame for terrible preseason ratings

    TV and Radio

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst of a weekend in televised sports.

    Worst matchup

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) tries to get past Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Brian Dixon (41) and safety Barry Church (42) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) JVS119
  3. Hernando County Sheriff's Office: Deputies shoot suicidal woman who brandished shotgun

    Crime

    BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Sheriff's deputies shot a woman they believed to be suicidal after she pointed a shotgun at them Sunday, according to a police report.

  4. Trump administration disbands federal advisory committee on climate change

    National

    WASHINGTON - The Trump administration has decided to disband the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment, a group aimed at helping policymakers and private-sector officials incorporate the government's climate analysis into long-term planning.

    President Donald Trump. [Associated Press]
  5. Blake Snell shines as Rays beat Mariners to end skid (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell delivered the best outing of his young career and the Rays offense continued its home run-hitting ways for a 3-0 victory Sunday against the Mariners in front of 13,354 at Tropicana Field.

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) with starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) after the top of the seventh inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.