The last couple of weeks have been rough on the Humane Society of St. Lucie County. A less-than-flattering inspection report revealed issues that led government agencies to reconsider agreements with the agency.
But through all that, the Humane Society is taking the challenges in stride, according to agency spokesman David Lynch.
He said the organization is seeing an increased awareness in the community of the struggles the Humane Society has, and members of the community are stepping forward to help. “Now is a good time to get involved,” Lynch said.
In September, a county animal control inspection of the Glades Cut Off Road location found generally “acceptable” conditions, but revealed indoor temperatures in the 90s, some dirty kennels and litter boxes, and noted a lack of outdoor time for the dogs.
“It’s no secret” the Humane Society is over-crowded, Lynch said, adding that the agency is tasked with taking in all dogs and cats. “We’re saving more lives this year” than last, he said.
The Humane Society remained mum regarding the inspection report in September, deferring comment until the report was finalized.
Lynch said the agency’s board chair was due to release a public statement this week; it was not available to St. Lucie Voice as of press time.
Following the inspection report, both the St. Lucie County Board of Commissioners and the Fort Pierce City Council raised concerns about how the agency was performing.
Both governments decided to renew their contracts with the Humane Society, but on a month-to-month basis, instead of the previous annual contract.
The City of Port St. Lucie’s contract with the Humane Society does not expire until next year. However, under the terms of the contract, the city could terminate the contract with 30 days written notice. It could then opt for a month-to-month contract in keeping with St. Lucie County and Fort Pierce.
As of press time, there had been no public discussion at the City Council level regarding the matter.
Prior to the contract modifications, St. Lucie’s annual budget for the Humane Society was $230,000, while Fort Pierce paid $133,000. Port St. Lucie’s budget is $152,500.
All three government agencies contracted the Humane Society of St. Lucie County to provide animal control services including housing, care, adoption and reunifications.
In the event the governments were to no longer wish to work with the Humane Society, another animal-oriented agency would likely be tapped.
“We do not, quite frankly, want to get into the kennel business,” Deputy County Administrator Jeff Bremer told the County Commission last month during their discussion of the inspection.
Commissioners agreed with Bremer’s assessment.
“The animals are a priority,” Commissioner Cathy Townsend said, “just like safety in the schools and everything else.”
“I will pray this can be straightened out,” she added.