Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Adoption Option; New St. Johns County Facility Cares for Stray Pets until Others Can

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Adoption Option; New St. Johns County Facility Cares for Stray Pets until Others Can

Article excerpt

Byline: terry brown

With a firm human grasp on the back of its neck, a gray tabby cat trapped on a sterile aluminum table loudly voiced his displeasure at the poking and prodding from an examination.

Veterinarian technicians Teresa Roberts and James Cameron check the stray feline for microchip identification, then provide an immediate though routine vaccination. They also check for fleas, draw blood, take a stool sample and prepare the neutered cat to enter a holding cage, at the facility that opened its doors to the public just over a month ago.

Roberts and Cameron, along with the rest of the center's staff and in coordination with county Animal Control officers, have a critical role to get strays and abandoned animals off the county's roads, and in time, off to new homes.

Animal Control Department Supervisor Paul Studivant manages the new $1.8 million Pet Adoption Center in northern St. Johns County. The Adoption Center is set on approximately two acres, and features 50 cat runs and 160 dog runs. Studivant said a conservative estimate of the number of animals expected to pass through the facility will be more than 7,000 per year.

For the staff, ensuring the animals are in a stress-free environment and are well cared for are paramount to the center's success, and they are proud of the work they perform.

Cameron, a 15-year Emergency Medical Services veteran, said he made the switch to care for animals after determining people medicine was not where he wanted to spend the remainder of his career.

"I haven't yet had to pick up a drunk dog that's just killed a family," said Cameron, referring to the many drunk driving automobile accidents he attended to over the years.

All of the adoption center's furry, temporary guests - many have survived on dangerous roadways throughout the county - are treated to a few perks many may have never known. Their stay starts with a healthy dose of attention.

After the animals are examined by the vet techs, they are handed off to the center's animal care technicians. The dogs are bathed, and both the cats and dogs are provided food, water, walks and a warm and secure bed.

If an animal is surrendered by an owner, it will immediately be available for adoption. If the animal has been identified as a stray or abandoned, the staff will wait five days to see if an owner comes to claim their lost pet before making it available. All animals are spayed or neutered prior to adoption.

The facility has a surgical room where a veterinarian comes in twice a week to perform operations and to administer rabies shots, as required by state law. Roberts and Cameron also consult with the veterinarian on a case by case basis, if needed. At this time, animals are only euthanized if they come in with severe injuries or if the animal is determined to be too vicious and a threat to society. …

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