After quick death of dog, citizens protest Hernando Animal Shelter policies, procedures

BROOKSVILLE, Fla. - Folks heading into the Hernando County commissions meeting this morning were greeted by supporters of animal rights trying to expose county Animal Control wrongs.

"This is about the failure to change the culture of killing that has infected animal services for decades," said Richard Silvani, an animal activist.

One by one, dozens of speakers took their concerns to the county commissioners about mismanagement and the all-too-quick killing at the county shelter, where a dog named Zeus was euthanized a week and a half ago after less than an hour in the County's care.

"You are the only people can do something about this issue," said  Laurie Boynton.  "And Zeus is just a minor example.  He's a terrible tragedy but he is just one example of what happened at that shelter."

The tirade got testy.  At times, the public forum almost veered out of  control

"We're not going to do it like this.  I will not tolerate it," said a commissioner, who repeatedly had to bang a gavel to control the crowd.  But civility was maintained even when contrarians to the contention that things are 'going to the dogs' addressed the commission.

"Please don't let a few opinions destroy a group of fine employees," said former Animal Control staffer Frank McDowell.  "Please do what is right and just."

County commissioners agreed with a recommendation from Interim County Administrator Ron Pianta, who called for an independent investigation to be conducted -- starting immediately -- by the Clerk of the Circuit Court's office.

Current department policies, including the procedures for killing dogs in the shelter, will be probed. The study will also look into any possible criminal charges.

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