Oravec makes pitch to expand Glades Cut-Off animal shelter

Port St. Lucie Mayor Greg Oravec wants to partner with St. Lucie County and Fort Pierce to expand the animal shelter at 88-90 Glades Cut-Off Road so it can serve the entire county.

The site plan for the 11,600-square foot shelter left plenty of room for expansion, Oravec said. The facility was built in 2013 on a 4-acre parcel east of the Interstate 95 overpass and south of Midway Road.

The goal would be to develop and operate “the best county-wide no-kill animal shelter in the world,” Oravec said in a letter to Commission Chairwoman Cathy Townsend and Fort Pierce Mayor Linda Hudson.

However, county commissioners decided last Tuesday (March 10) to help Fort Pierce revive the city’s animal shelter at 100 Savannah Road in the short term and discuss whether to get involved in the Glades Cut-Off shelter expansion in the long run.

“We need the space today,” said Commissioner Chris Dzadovsky. “I’m supportive of moving forward and getting Fort Pierce up and running at Savannah (Road) as soon as possible.”

The three local governments have been scrambling to provide animal shelter services since October after ending long-term agreements with the Humane Society of St. Lucie County to operate the Glades Cut-Off and Savannah Road shelters because of safety, operating and financial issues.

Long-festering issues with the former leadership of HSSLC came to a head after a pitbull mauled a volunteer to death on May 8 at the Savannah Road shelter.

A Sheriff’s Office investigation found widespread operational problems at the shelter, but no criminal culpability.

St. Lucie County has been operating a temporary animal shelter in an industrial building at Treasure Coast International Airport since October with Port St. Lucie and Fort Pierce helping cover the costs.

Meanwhile, Port St. Lucie officials have been working with the reconstituted board of the Humane Society of St. Lucie County since November to keep the Glades Cutoff shelter operating.

Port St. Lucie Vice Mayor Shannon Martin attended the County Commission meeting last Tuesday to complain about the unhealthy condition of four dogs recently transferred from the county’s temporary shelter to the Glades Cut-Off shelter.

“The city paid the county money to care for the animals,” Martin said. “We joined in the temporary facility to care for the animals, house them and care for them, and they weren’t cared for.”

But county Animal Safety Coordinator Anna Valencia said the dogs were strays that had been found in poor condition and slowly nursed back to health.

“We have cared for every animal that comes through our door and we have given them the best of care,” said county Public Safety Chief Ron Parrish.

Townsend said she wants to close the temporary animal shelter as soon as possible and talk to Port St. Lucie officials about the Glades Cut-Off shelter expansion plans.

“My goal is to get the animals out of there, sell the hangar, put it back on property (tax rolls), and put them (the animals) in the care of professionals,” Townsend said.

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