Brevard Co Pound Audit Reveals Disturbing Practices

The Brevard Co pound in Florida was audited in 2009 and the county followed up on that audit in 2011 and again in 2013.  A recent internal audit by the clerk of court, made public this week, reveals that “no appreciable progress was made between 2011 and 2013”.  In addition, the clerk of court internal audit staff found the following:

  • The Brevard Co pound staff is either not using many features of the Chameleon software or using them incorrectly.
  • The pound is padding its live release rate by shuffling animals between its two facilities and categorizing those animals as “transfers”.
  • Dogs are being kept in dirty cages and receiving too few walks.
  • Some stray animals are being killed before their holding periods expire.
  • The decision to kill specific animals lacks “sound reasoning”.  For example, one puppy was killed for fighting with a sibling even though the pair were never separated.
  • 90% of the animals killed are listed as behavioral or medical in nature.
  • There are no behaviorists on staff and only one veterinarian to handle approximately 13,000 animals per year.  The vet goes to the north facility just once per week.
  • Staff evaluates dogs by putting them with a live cat.  The ensuing fights have led to deaths and needless killings of animals injured during the evaluations.
  • The pound is not sufficiently alerting the community prior to animals being killed.
  • The pound is killing more than 100 animals per month upon request of the owners, without determining whether the animals can be saved.
  • Both facilities are closed on Wednesdays, which is when staff works more hours than they do on weekends, when the public is there adopting.
  • Pound management has no strategic plan in place to move toward no kill.

The audit staff made several recommendations based upon the report, including giving the public at least 48 hours notice online before killing animals. And obviously, stop placing dogs and cats in a room to fight. The county has responded to the report with a resounding thud:

Scott Ellis, Clerk of the Circuit Court, said he gave Brevard County’s Board of County Commissioners several opportunities to respond to all 51 pages of the audit.

After three months of hearing nothing, he decided to make it available to the public.

However, County Manager Stockton Whitten responded to Local 6.

“This is a report that appears to be a compilation of personal opinions on how Brevard County Animal Services and Enforcement is to be operated,” Whitten wrote in an email to Local 6.

It’s only a bunch of opinions, so just keep on staging those cat-dog fights to the death I guess.

(Thanks Clarice for the links.)

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32 Comments

  1. Upon reading this, my stomach is in knots…

    Reply
  2. mikken

     /  June 4, 2014

    Holy shit, what is wrong with people?

    Reply
  3. Alice

     /  June 4, 2014

    I’d bet that that padding is sending the “adoptable” animals from the south center to the north, and the “not adoptable” from the north to the south. The center in the south is very old, very small, not kept up, and all but hidden behind bushes and trees. It is also very hard to find, even with a map. There are very few kennels for animals available for adoption and even fewer staff.

    Meanwhile, the center in the north is brand new, well marked, and has “pretty” animals in the public runs. They also try to give people the idea animals will be around for however long it takes them to find a home.

    Both centers take strays, and both do adoptions. However, the south center is rarely mentioned unless you are looking for a lost pet. They always send adopters north.

    Reply
    • You have that backwards Alice. South is bigger, newer. North is small, hidden, unmaintained.

      Reply
      • Alice

         /  June 4, 2014

        You’re right. I moved recently and get the names mixed up. But still, the staff at the new center *always* act like they are no-kill when the “general public” come to look. A couple of times I hear one woman say that they were the only AC in Brevard, the other center was private.

  4. Fighting with their siblings or with a cat would pretty much make 99% of all dogs “behavior problems.”

    Reply
    • Nature intended puppies to fight with their siblings. It’s one of the ways they learn manners and how to be good dogs. The idea that anyone would kill a puppy for *any* behavioral trait is outrageous.

      Reply
      • Alice

         /  June 4, 2014

        I have a Border Collie who was almost killed as a puppy for “behavioral issues”. The “president” of the facility yanked on one of her ears *very* hard. She yelped and put her mouth around the woman’s finger (didn’t bite down). The woman then said the puppy failed the “tolerance test” and would be put down as soon as she was put into their system.

        It’s a long story, but the man who brought her in hadn’t filled out the paperwork completely and was still on the property. He had dragged his feet because in his mind he did not own her, and didn’t want to pay the fee to turn her in. I found him and got him to tell this woman he was giving her to me, and not them.

        She is now nine years old, she was three months old at the time. *Never* again has she even tried to bite a human. She won’t even displace a cat if the cat has her place on the sofa.

  5. Clarice

     /  June 4, 2014

    County employees with no hearts, no souls, and no common sense. I am afraid I will now always think of Brevard’s cruel methods when asking if a dog can be cat tested or vice versa. The responsible staff should be fired,and charged with animal abuse.

    Reply
    • The “cat test” occurred in 2013 (2014 is a typo in the audit). The responsible staff person has left Brevard and is now a shelter director in a nearby county.

      Reply
      • I got the impression from the report that this was a regular practice and they named one incident as an example, as they did in several other parts of the report.

      • No, it was one incident by one shelter employee but yes, it was well hidden from the general public.

      • The report seems pretty clear to me. Page 10, item 12 indicates this was not an isolated incident but a regular practice and they give one example, specifically labeling it as such.

  6. janipurr

     /  June 4, 2014

    They “evaluate” dogs by putting them in with a live cat? What kind of f*cking horror house is this? Of all the stupid shit I hear, this has got to take the cake. I bet the staff just likes to watch the dogs kill the cats.

    These “people” should be grateful I live nowhere near Brevard County. This would be a pitchforks and torches kind of action.

    Reply
    • I absolutely believe there is no way this is happening without the staff enjoying the hell out of it. That’s the only explanation. No one in the world would sit calmly while one animal mauls another and take notes on a clipboard if they weren’t getting a sick thrill. How are they not being charged with animal cruelty AND dog fighting?

      Reply
  7. Question…the report mentions the shelter is euthanizing animals per owner request without seeking a second opinion. Is this commonly expected at shelters? Can they accept an animal and NOT euthanize it if the owner requests they do so? Or would they have to choose between accepting the animal and euthanizing them or turning the animal away if the owner insists?

    I ask because I know as a vet tech it was a huge deal that our hospital would NOT accept euthanasia by owner request unless the animal was medically suffering or there was a safety issue (a very aggressive dog, for example.) Convenience euthanasia is common at most veterinary hospitals. Indeed, it was done at my own hospital for decades until the staff rebelled and forced a policy change. So I’m surprised to see this listed as something accepted as not being correct, and curious as to what policy is expected.

    Reply
    • Alice

       /  June 4, 2014

      They can if they want to. All it would take is one new clause in county code (if it isn’t there already). Generally speaking, once an owner turns in an animal they are no longer the owner, the county is. The county can then decide what they want to do with their property. They don’t have to kill the animal just because the former owner wished it so.

      Clinics are a different since there is no transfer of ownership when a pet is brought in. Clinics are a service based operation.

      I will say, I live in Florida. I have heard many cases where different clinics refused kill the animals “just because” and then kept the animal. No one has ever been arrested nor was the animal killed in the end.

      Reply
      • Vets have absolutely lost their ability to practice or been disciplined for taking action like that. There’s a case going on right now where a vet promised to euthanize several animals and kept them alive in horrendous conditions. While he’s being sued primarily for animal cruelty and hoarding, breach of contract is a factor. I remember a case from my first year as a vet tech where a vet had a client with a young golden retriever. The golden had severe hip issues and the owner refused surgery and requested euthanasia. The vet offered to do the surgery at no cost and the owner again refused…she just plain wanted the dog dead. The vet told her the dog was euthanized and adopted him out to someone else. Months later the owner spotted the dog in someone’s backyard…I don’t remember the consequences to the vet, but they were disciplined by the state board. I think most vets have done this at least once or twice in their careers, but you can certainly get in trouble if you get caught.

        After our hospital changed policies, the vets had the ability to refuse euthanasia on ethical grounds. The choice was to either turn the client away or offer to legally transfer ownership and take responsibility for the animal, in which case whoever made the offer had to pay all bills and find the animal a new home. The owner had to sign paperwork to that effect, including an understanding that they were no longer entitled to any information on the animal and their fate. I took responsibility for a number of animals under that rule (usually the owner was requesting euthanasia for litter box issues or inability to treat chronic illnesses.)

        I’m sure a shelter can just flat turn a person away or offer to adopt the animal out. What I’m wondering is…can they accept the animal for euthanasia and then adopt the animal out without informing the former owner that they plan to do so? I can’t imagine so.

      • Eucritta

         /  June 4, 2014

        Here in California a shelter or ACC can indeed accept a pet surrendered for euthanasia, and then not do so without informing the former owner. The key point here is, ‘former.’ Once surrender has taken place, the former owner has no legal rights to that pet, and no say in their treatment.

      • Alice

         /  June 4, 2014

        I’m only speaking to the cases I know of in Florida, and in the same area as Brevard. The vets that I know of never told the former owner the animal was dead. They simply took the animal and refused to give it back. Law enforcement treats such cases as a “civil matter” and won’t get involved. None have gone to court thus far. Nor has the veterinary board said anything about it.

        Brevard absolutely has the right to not kill the animals just because the former owner said so. If the current form used doesn’t sever the ownership, make a new form that does. Then they can do whatever they want with their new property. Including letting it live. They are being their typical lazy selves, and passing the blame.

      • Huh, that’s really interesting. I guess it does come down to a difference in forms…we had a euthanasia form and a transfer of ownership form, and they were used for very different purposes. I guess a shelter is in a unique situation because EVERY animal who crosses the door is being signed over and becomes ‘property’ of the shelter. So it’s a very different situation, and people coming in are expecting to sign over the animal. I would assume though that any form would still have to clearly state that the final fate of the animal is up to the shelter.

        I can only remember two cases where the vet was very tempted to just flat seize the animal. Most of the time if the owner requested euthanasia for what we considered to be an unethical reason, they were happy to sign them over so they could be treated/adopted. In both cases, the animals were suffering terribly from medical conditions and the owners REFUSED euthanasia. One case animal control intervened with because the owners weren’t seeking treatment after the initial visit (dog was hit by car and broke her back…the owner left her in the yard for several days.) The other though, they did continue to seek treatment and just refused all advice (dog had a basketball sized tumor in his lower jaw), so animal control said they were covered legally.

      • Eucritta

         /  June 5, 2014

        My vets have all had policies which they state up-front, that they reserve the right to refuse requested procedures based on their professional judgement, and all have specified that euthanasia is one of these.

        What they might do in the opposite case, I don’t know. My current vet mentioned once, though, that offering to do euthanasia at home seemed to help people make the decision in a timely way. Unfortunately, California makes this difficult to do legally – there are a number of regulations that essentially require a mobile clinic to do them, something out of reach financially for most vet clinics.

    • Once the animal is signed over to the shelter the shelter has the option to evaluate the animal for adoption/

      Reply
  8. Kittypurr

     /  June 4, 2014

    The shelter staff and especially the one who is operating as a director still instate needs to be named. And I completely agree with you Clarise- charges should be levied.

    Reply
  9. spaycritter

     /  June 5, 2014

    And here I am being all disgusted that the local facility performs “cat testing ” by walking dogs into the cat holding rooms, causing the cats to be so stressed they catch the shelter cold , and are killed. Brevard had a tax dollar paid employee placing a cat and dog together for testing , watched them fight , and promoted said employee to a director’s position ? How does the public allow this to happen ? Oh. Wait. I’m guessing the public never knew ,til now.

    Reply
  10. It’s time for residents to file legal action! The employees are sick and have no common sense!

    Reply
  11. lori brown

     /  June 6, 2014

    The employees name is Paula Hunter. She is now the manager of Bay County Florida Animal Services (formally known as Bay County Animal Control.) It appears she jumped ship In Brevard either during or right after the audit in Brevard. We are gonna need major help here!!!

    Reply
  12. lori brown

     /  June 6, 2014

    P.S. shirley ….I’d love to talk to you about this if you have the time. I believe I still have your number. Let me know! :)

    Reply
  13. We have sunk so low that we no longer have a right to cast aspersions on other parts of the world! This disgusts me!

    Reply
  14. Stupid SOBs! Why can’t they see what is right in front of their eyes! The is no common sense nor care for the animals they’re supposed to protect! They see themselves as a killing factor rather a shelter! There is no place for idiots in a shelter! Please People take action before they kill them all! Demand cleanliness!

    Reply

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