Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Animal Control Changes Weighed

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Animal Control Changes Weighed

Article excerpt

MANATEE: Approach may be restructures after highly publicized cruelty case

MANATEE COUNTY

MANATEE: Approach may be restructured after highly publicized cruelty case

In the wake of a highly publicized animal cruelty case, Manatee County is considering restructuring its approach to animal control.

The suggested approach is drawing some support from animal advocates as well as opposition from residents critical of how the county handles its animal protection duties now.

It calls for the county's keeping its enforcement role but partnering with an existing or new nonprofit to be in charge of adoptions at a separate facility to be built with private donations.

Currently, Animal Services performs both functions -- enforcement and adoptions.

The goal is to become a national model as a "no kill" community, Len O'Hara, a former college president with degrees in animal science, told the commissioners on Tuesday.

O'Hara recently volunteered to conduct a study that led to the partnership idea. He believes turning over adoption center responsibilities will better enable the county to achieve its goal of no longer euthanizing healthy dogs and cats because of shelter overcrowding.

The next step is for the county to request proposals from agencies interested in running an adoption center, County Administrator Ed Hunzeker said.

Residents upset with Animal Services think it could have the opposite effect of increasing euthanasia cases.

Nathan Levinson appeared before the commission wearing a T-shirt with the message "In Memory of Buck and Bill."

Levinson said he is a friend of Karen Erskine.

Erskine unsuccessfully fought in court to save her Australian shepherds, Buck and Bill, from being euthanized.

County officials confiscated the dogs, which reportedly jumped out of a window and bit and severely wounded a 13-year-old boy riding his bike in the Panther Ridge development in East Manatee.

Levinson said the proposal will enable Animal Services to continue "killing when they want. …

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