ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. - The Humane Society of St. Lucie County is defending itself from a former employees' charges that it was putting down too many animals.
The new veterinarian office in Vero Beach that Dr. Sara Mathews and her husband will operate is just weeks away from opening.
It's a chance for her to move ahead, after what she claims she left behind in her old job.
"No matter what I did as a vet, I was still seeing too many animals euthanized for no good reason," said Dr. Mathews.
Mathews was on staff for four years at the Humane Society of St. Lucie County. She said she had ideas to relieve the problem, but management would never give her a voice.
The executive director of the Humane Society, Frank Andrews, called these allegations baloney.
"Our employees are absolutely furious at being maligned," said Andrews.
Andrews says these complaints are from a small number of people, including Dr. Mathews, who he says was fired in September for cause.
"Who incidentally, never found anything wrong in the four years of 400 dollar a day salary, anything wrong, until after she was terminated," said Andrews, referring to Dr. Mathews.
Andrews says they get more than 8,000 animals a year and while 4,400 were put down last year, about half were put to sleep at the owners request.
The Humane Society and St. Lucie County are currently negotiating a new contract. Right now, the Humane Society gets $113 dollars per animal it takes in.
"So they would take in more than they could handle knowing they would have to euthanize some," charged Dr. Mathews.
"If we actively solicited, we're the dumbest business operators in town because we get paid $20 dollars less per animal than it actually costs us," Andrews said in response.
St. Lucie County Commissioners this week agreed to include a standard of care provision into the next contract with the Humane Society.
On December 10th, the Humane Society is holding a "pay what you can afford" adoption event, in an effort to get more animals into good homes.
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