Bad Things in Hernando Co

Zeus at Hernando Co Animal Services, in his last minutes of life.

On Friday, April 13, 2012, an 8 month old dog called Zeus was surrendered to Hernando Co Animal Services in FL.  It was 4:15pm and volunteer Laurie Boynton was getting ready to leave for the day.  Before she did, she snapped a photo of Zeus and spent a few minutes playing with the dog.  After arriving home, she posted Zeus’ photo on Facebook and an adopter contacted her, making arrangements to pick up the dog on Monday.  Unbeknownst to Ms. Boynton or the potential adopter, the pound had killed Zeus 15 minutes after intake.

[I]n a memo to [Director of Public Safety Mike] Nickerson, [Code Enforcement and Animal Services Manager Liana] Teague said Zeus was euthanized due to space and fearfulness. The dog wouldn’t even walk on a leash, she said.

“At the time that Zeus came in we had zero pens and were just beginning euthanasia for the afternoon,” she wrote.

But Ms. Boynton says space was not an issue:

“When I left the shelter at 4:25, there were 10 empty kennels out of 58, and one dog was being returned to its owner,” she wrote. “On top of that, only eight kennels had more than one dog in them, and those were just the small dogs. The shelter closed at 4:30.”

Further, Ms. Boynton says she observed a staffer dragging Zeus down the hall by the neck without even attempting to get him to walk on his own.  And that any evaluation to determine adoptability could not have been properly conducted in such a short period of time.

Mr. Nickerson counters that it takes just a few minutes to evaluate a dog.  And he says the volunteer must have gotten the wrong impression about empty cages at the pound because a bunch of dogs had just been killed which of course, freed up space.  (Please no one ask me how that statement makes any sense.  I got nothing.)  Oh and that dragging-down-the-hall-by-the-neck thing?   He’s got good news on that too:

“The dog was not, in our estimation, dragged the entire way by its neck.”


The Hernando Co pound has a written agreement with a local nonprofit to hold all animals, including both strays and owner surrenders, for 7 days.  The killing of Zeus appears to violate that agreement.  An investigation was initiated by the county to determine the facts of the case.

Two weeks later, Mr. Nickerson declined to evaluate Ms. Teague’s work performance despite the fact that she was due for her annual review mandated by the county:

“I really don’t have a reason, to tell you the truth,” he said.

At a town hall meeting on May 8, about 150 people showed up to speak for the county’s homeless animals and specifically to find out what was being done in the aftermath of Zeus’ killing:

Since the Zeus incident, the county has enacted a seven-day hold on any dog or cat brought to the agency.

Gee, the 7 day hold the county already had in place with the local nonprofit didn’t protect Zeus then, how will it protect other pets in future?

The sheriff recently offered to absorb the county’s 4 ACOs into his department but wants no part of the stinkbomb that is the pound:

“We would not be interested in dealing with that,” he said of the shelter, where animals are frequently euthanized.

This Friday will mark 8 weeks since Zeus was dragged by the neck and killed at Hernando Co Animal Services.  The county’s investigation has yet to be completed.

17 thoughts on “Bad Things in Hernando Co

  1. RIP Zeus (and all the other animals who have been killed there) – you were failed by the very people who were supposed to protect you. I am so sick of hearing about these beautiful animals dying because of human stupidity and laziness and whatever else causes them to kill so easily.
    It does sound as though there was a decent outcry by those concerned. I just hope they don’t let up, now that some time has passed. Time to clean house?

  2. You advocates are tilting at windmills: these thugs at this pound are not going to change. They keep giving the finger to everyone. Take the hint! Maryann Tobin, a writer for, has relentlessly documented these criminals’ abuse for over a year. They aren’t government workers or shelter workers, they’re criminals. The place needs to be shut down. End of story. When will locals finally get the point and open their own facility that puts these creeps out of business?

    1. Okay, how does that happen? Who has to do it? Is there a group ‘on the ground’ working on it? How can we non-locals help?

    2. Taxpayers pay for the county pound and deserve to have transparency and accountability at the facility. A CAPA type law would force the pound to work with rescues and remove the discretion of shelter directors to kill indiscriminately.

  3. It’s time to clean house and can all the staff at Hernando County pound!! These people are nothing but serial animal killers, they should be treated the same way they treat the animals!! Drag a few of ’em down the hallway by the neck, euthanize some and starve the rest of ’em!!!

    1. Again, I ask, how does this happen? Is there someone local who is spearheading an effort to do this?

  4. There’s lots of No Kill advocacy going on in FL right now.

    There are No Kill advocates in Tampa, slightly south of there. I posted this to their facebook wall. There are a lot of communities in FL trying to go no kill. Maybe they will spread the love to Hernando Co …

    I also posted to Building a No Kill South Florida and No Kill Florida.

    You never know which spark will light a fire …

    1. Thanks for doing this. Sometimes it’s really hard to even know where to start or who to contact.

  5. How about they clean house and fire everyone that works there. Let the rescues help with the interview process to hire new people with I don’t know, maybe a heart and soul? Rescues and non profits would be happy to help with training about dealing with the animals i’m sure. And rescues and non-profits should have access at all times. If no one is doing anything wrong why would they care if there actions were seen. This would be a good policy in all gov’t run shelters because maybe they are not all this bad but I bet some are. JMHO.

  6. Mr. Nickerson would not do an evaluation of her performance, but had no real reason for it? What?

    He needs to be replaced immediately. He is refusing to do his job properly and admits it. Some decent leadership in there would certainly help issues, too.

  7. I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again: These kill “shelters” are operated by sadist & those who get some kind of sick thrill from killing dogs & cats. They’re in a position to fulfill their sick desires legally, without suspition of their alterior motives.

    The sick sadists should be closely looked at to see what the real motives are because so often, the killing isn’t warrented, necessary or even reasonable.


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