How will they get back on track?
The Humane Society of St. Lucie County has been under pressure for months to remedy various safety and health concerns for animals found during an inspection over the summer, in addition to improving its financial situation.
The Animal Shelter Standards Committee requested that the Humane Society of St. Lucie produce a plan on how they are going to correct the issues discovered.
In their recently submitted plan, the HSSLC addressed eight areas of concern.
First, they said dog runs that were damaged are being repaired. They are also now using a drug, Trazodone, to treat severely anxious dogs causing damage.
Second, the ASSC report expressed concern over dogs displaying stress behavior and over-excitement. The HSSLC said it has a sound system to play soothing music but was unaware that it was not operational. They are diagnosing what caused it to malfunction and hope to have it restored for animals that might benefit from classical music. They are also posting a wish list to post to Facebook for items like scratchboards for cats and food puzzle toys for dogs to relieve stress.
They said they also hope to hire more staff and recruit more volunteers to provide more exercise.
Third, the HSSLC addressed high-temperature concerns, stating their ventilation system wasn’t properly working. Worn belts have been replaced. If that does not solve the problem, the HSSLC said further evaluation will be needed.
Fourth, the ASSC was concerned about sick cats being in the mix of healthy cats. The HSSLC said conjunctivitis is a medical diagnosis and cannot speak to a generalization unless a veterinarian made a determination for a particular cat. Some medications may be used by kennel staff but others require a specific diagnosis by a veterinarian. The veterinarian said all cats she has assessed have had clear runs sounds, normal temperatures and normal physical exams without evidence of sickness. The HSSLC said it is improving protocols to more carefully monitor the administration of all medications.
Fifth, the ASSC was concerned about the car quarantine room being too hot. The HSSLC said it would ensure a backdoor that lets warm air inside does not stay open longer than needed.
Sixth, the ASSC said many cat cages had no IDs and many did not have medical information posted. The HSSLC said the cages now have IDs and a medical status report is now in the cat room.
Seventh, the ASSC said bay door tracks had rust. The HSSLC said this does not pose a health risk to the animals so it is not a priority. They will try to mitigate the problem using products such as Rustoleum.
Finally, the HSSLC addressed standard operating procedures, saying it will bifurcate the protocols to correspond to each shelter as time permits and will develop or update protocols for vet requirements, food storage, and controlled drugs.
Terri Walden, a former volunteer, and current animal rescue advocate were not pleased with the plan.
“I think they were very dismissive in their response,” Walden said.
She says it misses a key component.
“Probably the most astounding thing that they did not address was Dr. Wassermann’s comments on her report that failed them for their euthanasia technique because they are using direct intracardiac injection which is extremely painful,” Walden said. This is otherwise known as using heart sticks.
The Humane Society of St. Lucie County is also now required to turn in monthly financial statements to St. Lucie County and the City of Fort Pierce.
Walden is also keeping up with those records, finding the financial situation is still struggling.
“We found that October 1 to 24, they lost $38,000 for that 24 day period... I will continue to monitor the situation both financially and in terms of conditions inside the shelter.”
Humane Society Officials did not respond to a request for further comment.