FORT PIERCE, Fla. — For months, the city of Fort Pierce has weighed whether to consider a backup plan for the Humane Society of St. Lucie County to provide animal services in the city.
On Monday night, a former shelter manager for the Humane Society of St. Lucie County spoke at the commission meeting to tell commissioners he might have a plan they could consider.
Mike Jones will deliver the same message to St. Lucie County Commissioners on Tuesday.
Jones said he is pulling together his own board of directors and has established his own non-profit organization called New Hope Humane Society.
This comes after city leaders have expressed concerns surrounding poor inspection results and financial stability within the Humane Society of St. Lucie County.
Jones said the recent death of a volunteer was the tipping point for him to offer his plan to the city.
“The death of the volunteer, it was horrific. Very sad. When I saw that and heard that happened, I was just in shock that something like that could happen at a humane society. It should never happen anywhere to be honest with you. I said I have to do something about this. I feel I have the knowledge and skills to do something about it,” Jones said.
Jones worked briefly as the shelter manager for the Humane Society of St. Lucie County, handing in his resignation earlier this year.
“I was of the mind that I could solve these problems, that these problems could be solved. But, you need the support of the organization to solve them. It just wasn’t happening. Without their support, nothing is going to change,” Jones said.
He said he resigned because he did not want to become the face of problems he said he was not being allowed to solve.
The municipalities can renew or chose not to renew their contract with the Humane Society of St. Lucie County this summer.
While Jones is not certain the city or the county would consider his plan as their backup plan, he wants to give them an option.
“I’ve worked for the Humane Society of St. Lucie County, so I know all the internal workings. I know their policies. I have their financials, so I have real numbers to work on a budget in order to facilitate this move,” Jones said.
However, leadership with the Humane Society of St. Lucie County said they are reviewing policies and working toward solutions.
City Manager Nick Mimms reminded commissioners Monday night that an animal welfare organization, Best Friends Animal Society, was brought in this month for several days to review operations within the Humane Society of St. Lucie County.
A Best Friends Animal Society representative also met with area stakeholders and rescue groups to make a list of recommendations for the Humane Society of St. Lucie County to implement to make improvements.
The Humane Society of St. Lucie County does not have to take the recommendations, but it is an option moving forward.
"Now is the time to do something about that because without making a change now, you are going to get the status quo and continue with the same low standards that are in place now,” Jones said.
Commissioner Rufus Alexander said Monday night that he was concerned he has not heard anything from the Humane Society of St. Lucie County’s leadership since the volunteer’s death. He said he would like for them to come to a commission meeting or meet with commissioners in some capacity.
Commissioner Tom Perona said Monday night that he would like to hear more about Jones’ plans.