Animal shelter coming under scrutiny

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A Treasure Coast animal shelter is under fire for its conditions. (WPEC)


A spokesperson for St. Lucie County told CBS12 News that county commissioners agreed to let the lease expire and are now moving forward to find a new group to operate the shelter.

The City of Fort Pierce is working to remove the Humane Society of St. Lucie County from the shelter it is at now. If the city is unable to remove them by Oct. 1, the city will try to create a shelter somewhere else.

Original story:

Neglect. Filth. Even a puppy eaten by rats.

These are just some of the allegations swirling around a Treasure Coast pet shelter.

This facility at 100 Savannah Road, Ft. Pierce is coming under close scrutiny, some say it’s not providing animals with adequate care. One former volunteer paints a troubling picture of what she saw.

"Today it is truly deplorable," said Terri Walden, a Port St. Lucie resident.

Terri Walden, a retired registered nurse, says she spent 6 months as a volunteer at the Humane Society of St. Lucie County.

She says the place was not clean and lacked enough staff to properly care for the animals it had.

"The animals' cages are not kept clean, there’s almost no staff present," she said.

The facility made headlines in May after a dog mauled a shelter volunteer to death.

The city of Ft. Pierce, which has a contract with the Humane Society of St. Lucie County to care for stray or unwanted dogs and cats, inspected the facility last month.

City Code Enforcement provided still photos showing what it calls “deficiencies in the required maintenance, upkeep and repair of the premises.”

In a letter to the facility dated August 27, the city of Ft. Pierce listed several concerns, including the death of a number of Boston Terrier puppies, numerous other dogs were neglected in their care, a puppy was eaten by rats, and another puppy died from multiple rat bites.

"The animals had a right under our laws for better treatment and they did not receive it," said Walden.

We went to the shelter, seeking comment.

“Hello, We’re from CBS12 and we’re working on a story,” we said.

We were told no one was available.

The Fort Pierce City Commission and the Port St. Lucie City Council have voted not to renew their contracts with the Humane Society of St Lucie County when they expire at the end of this month.

And now the St. Lucie County Commission may do the same thing.

“We want to see some better accountability and accounting records and those negotiations have broken down, so it's at the point now where we need to find a new operator," said Erick Gill, St. Lucie County spokesperson.

If St. Lucie County ends its contract with the Humane Society of St. Lucie County, the county will open a temporary animal shelter at Treasure Coast International Airport in Ft. Pierce next month, while looking for a new operator.