St. Lucie County set up a temporary shelter for stray and unwanted dogs Tuesday in an industrial building near Treasure Coast International Airport.
The county is negotiating with the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast to operate the dog shelter in a 21,000-square-foot building at 2700 Industrial Avenue 3, said Public Safety Director Ron Parrish.
The shelter will be able to house about 200 dogs brought in by animal control and law enforcement officials in Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, St. Lucie Village and unincorporated St. Lucie County, Parrish said.
The shelter will initially not accept dogs from the public, Parrish said. Dog owners who want to surrender their pets can call 911 to have them picked up. The shelter also will not accept cats at first, Parrish said.
The temporary shelter will give the county time to search for a permanent replacement for the Humane Society of St. Lucie County’s Second Chance Shelter, whose contract with the three local governments expired Monday.
The governments halted contract renewal talks with HSSLC in August after the nonprofit group declined to provide a financial audit of shelter operations, a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, or a business plan for addressing cash flow issues.
In addition, a dog fatally mauled a volunteer on May 9 at the HSSLC’s shelter at 100 Savannah Road, Fort Pierce.
The group also operates a shelter at 8890 Glades Cut-off Road, Port St. Lucie.
An Aug. 28 statement on the HSSLC website blamed the cash flow issues on “grossly deficient” funding by the three governments. St. Lucie County’s temporary animal shelter will not accept dogs currently in the care of HSSLC, said county spokesman Erick Gill.
“Every animal that we’ve brought to them up to this point is their property,” Gill said. Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce and the county agreed last week to use the $43,375 they budgeted for HSSLC’s services to cover the costs of the temporary dog shelter.
It will initially be staffed by five county employees and overseen by Maria Valencia, the county’s animal safety coordinator, Parrish said.
The county anticipates issuing a Request-for-Proposals this month soliciting permanent animal sheltering services, Parris said. The goal is to find a permanent animal shelter operator in three-to-six months.