ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — How can they get back on track?
The Humane Society of St. Lucie County has been under fire for months for financial, staffing and cleanliness concerns.
But new help is in town to give the shelter a clear path forward to help them operate more effectively and ultimately save more animals.
Best Friends Animal Society, a nationally-recognized animal welfare group, will spend a few days in St. Lucie County looking over every operation of the shelter.
As part of that effort, a representative of the group met with members of six area animal rescue groups Tuesday night to get their feedback and input on changes they feel should be implemented at the Humane Society of St. Lucie County.
Frank Valente with the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast and Kate Meghji with the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County also contributed to the conversation.
The discussion was positive and productive for the groups involved.
“This is providing us with some hope,” said Lori Boettger with Paws Fur Recovery.
“I’m so, so happy about this,” said Shauna Baur, with Shauna Baur Rescue.
“I think them coming in today is the best thing that ever happened. They need direction at the humane society,” said Kim Dean with The Farm Dog Rescue.
They told Carrie Ducote with Best Friends Animal Society that they would like to see the shelter do more to retain volunteers, advertise animals available for adoption, improve the culture and cleanliness among other ideas.
Ducote has also met with some Humane Society of St. Lucie County leaders, and some officials from Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, and St. Lucie County.
“They understand they’re at a crossroads,” Ducote said. “It’s difficult to have a high functioning shelter that saves a lot of animals if the people are unhappy, if it’s unclean, if there’s no money, so we really have to look at the whole picture.”
Ducote said her organization has worked with dozens of shelters. Those that take their recommendations for changes, she said, typically see success in their organizations.
The animal rescue groups at the meeting also said they want to help the shelter make improvements, and felt the meeting sparked camaraderie.
“I think showing we want the same thing they want and being respectful to each other and joining forces,” Baur said.
“They’re our animals and we all need to take responsibility for that and I want to see it work,” said Dean.
The Humane Society of St. Lucie County also recently change its trade name to Second Chance Animal Shelters, saying on Facebook that it helps eliminate the appearance they are affiliated with the government.
The report with recommendations from Best Friends Animal Society should be complete in one month. It will be up to the Humane Society to make the report public.