FORT PIERCE — A new committee will set standards for animal shelters and rescue operations and ensure they are providing appropriate levels of care to the animals entrusted to them, according to county documents.
The five-member board will be comprised of one law enforcement representative from Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, the St . Lucie County Sheriff's Office and the St. Lucie County Public Safety and Communications Department as well as a licensed veterinarian, documents say. Once those agencies have chosen their representatives — it was unclear Friday how the vet would be chosen — the group will meet to create its bylaws and decide when and how often it will convene.
The creation of the committee is good news, said Jay Apicella, operations manager at Dogs & Cats Forever Inc. in Fort Pierce.
"I think we all should be checked on … because of what happened and all the controversy over what happened to the Humane Society," Apicella said.
He was referring to the recent indictment of Palena Rae Dorsey of The Sanctuary Animal Refuge in Fort Pierce on 157 charges of animal abuse and the recent controversy over euthanasia practices at the Humane Society of St. Lucie County, also in Fort Pierce.
Frank Andrews, executive director at the Humane Society, said he also is in favor of standards and inspections.
"If you have people who are employees of various municipalities involved to be working with us, it wouldn't hurt to come visit with us once or twice a year to keep themselves informed. It's really not a really big deal," Andrews said.
Dogs & Cats Forever is a no-kill facility that handles about 600 animals a year while the Humane Society in Fort Pierce, an open-admission shelter that does perform euthanasia, sees almost 9,000 animals annually.
Tiffany Bennett, the county's public safety manager, said the committee the County Commission approved June 19 will benefit animals and animal-oriented rescue operations countywide.
"We're going to be looking at standard things like checking for cleanliness, health of animals, the containment of the animals, are they being treated properly, and we are going to be looking at some of the euthanasia processes to make sure they are done accordingly," Bennett said. "I believe the committee is a win-win for both the Board of County Commissioners and the humane and other animal shelters."
Until the committee has formed, the point person for residents with questions will be Jack Southard at 772-462-1736.