HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. - "You know this animal service situation is really way out of hand," Anthony Palmieri would tell Hernando County commissioners. "Mr. Sossamon, keep the aspirin ready."
That one line pretty much sums up the last year when it comes to Animal Services in Hernando County, because for the second time in less a year, a dog has been euthanized at Animal Services and that dog was not supposed to be put down at all.
So at the Board of County Commissioners meeting Tuesday, members of the public stepped forward to voice their concerns over the operations at Animal Services.
Debby Johnson was point blank. "You might as well just have someone standing outside with a needle, and put those animals to sleep as they get out of the truck."
Kathy Tuesdale would comment, "Something needs to be done. Things need to change, because the ideas that the county has been working on -- they're not working."
But County Chairman Wayne Dukes would beg to differ. "Much as it seems there is chaos, we are working through this."
And leading the way and calling the shots now at Animal Services is Fire Chief Mike Nickerson. Nickerson has now been reassigned temporarily to completely focus his time and energy on fixing what isn't working at Animal Services.
And even though Nickerson did not speak at the meeting and would not be interviewed on camera, several people did praise him during the commission meeting.
A letter from an animal rights activist was read out during the meeting, addressing the issue of the dog that was put down in error. "The dog died because of a tragic mistake," Commissioner Dave Russell would read, "not because of an uncaring disregard for life that we have seen in the past."
Off-camera, I did speak to Chief Nickerson, and he told me that he is aware of the responsibility he has taken on, and he is willing to shoulder it. He says he is confident that they can do the right thing because they have a game plan, and all they have to do is follow it.