NEW PORT RICHEY — The city is officially moving toward ending its troubled volunteer-run Animal Protection Unit.
During a City Council meeting Tuesday night, Mayor Bob Consalvo received no opposition from his colleagues when he floated the idea of ending the program and going back to contracting with Pasco County for animal control services.
"It's really not working out," Consalvo said. "I just think it's not the right process for the city to be going through right now. It's just a constant aggravation."
In response, interim City Manager Susan Dillinger said she would have a proposal from the county in front of the council next month for a vote.
The city ended its contract with Pasco in October and created its own unit staffed entirely with volunteers, but the program has been rife with problems from the start. In March, SPCA Suncoast officials accused unit director Sharon McReynolds of not reporting a parvovirus outbreak in kennels the nonprofit had loaned to the city. The city then had to vacate that space and move to rented kennels in Land O'Lakes, where a second parvovirus outbreak was reported last weekend that left two dogs dead and another sick.
And this week a former animal control volunteer sued the city over access to public records related to the program.
At Tuesday's meeting, Deputy Mayor Bill Phillips thanked police Chief Kim Bogart, who took over oversight of the program for several months, for dealing with a complex situation he "inherited" because of the council's decision.
"We created this," Phillips lamented.