Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nassau's Animal Control Often Faced Complaints; County Took over Control of the Service Back in 2004

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nassau's Animal Control Often Faced Complaints; County Took over Control of the Service Back in 2004

Article excerpt

Byline: KEVIN TURNER

Complaints about animal control services in Nassau County are nothing new.

In 1994, they led to a new shelter. In 1999, they led to the Nassau Humane Society taking over Animal Care and Control, and in 2004, to the county taking it back.

Laura Bevan, director of the Southeast Office of the Humane Society of the United States, said Sept. 20 she remembers the early 1990s, when Animal Control, then based in Hilliard, was much worse. Before 1994, there was no space for cats, which were briefly held and then euthanized. Cages for dogs were falling apart and fights among dogs were common. Puppies were kept in wooden boxes, which held diseases that infected healthy pups.

"It was just a barn with cages in it," she said. "There was all this uproar about how horrible the place was, and I wrote the original report on it."

Soon after, Howard Gilman, owner of Gilman Paper Co. who founded White Oak Plantation in Yulee, paid to have the 7,053-square-foot shelter built on county-owned land on Florida A1A. He then donated the building to the county.

From the beginning, however, the shelter was too small for the number of stray dogs and is even more inadequate 13 years later, Bevan said.

"But in comparison to the one it replaced, it looked like the Taj Mahal," she said.

In 1999, Nassau County hired the First Coast Humane Society, later renamed the Nassau Humane Society, to run Animal Control.

In September 2002, Bevan returned to inspect operations at the behest of the Nassau County Commission following a rash of complaints.

In that report, Bevan said the shelter, which then took in about 4,600 animals a year, had only 24 kennels for dogs. She agreed with the assessment of an architect contacted by the Humane Society two years earlier who said the county needed at least 80 kennels for dogs, and the shelter needed a $2. …

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