From Ginny Sherlock, renowned local attorney, civic activist, and former Associated Press editor: A social media campaign called Justice4the6 is being launched to address concerns about the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast shelter in Palm City.
In January of this year, six cats were euthanized by HSTC staff while the veterinarian who was treating the animals for an extremely common condition (upper respiratory infection) was in surgery at the shelter. The vet was not consulted or advised that her patients were being put to death by shelter employees. The veterinarian, Dr. Julie Kittams, quit working at the shelter because management and the Board of Directors of the HSTC refuse to implement humane and compassionate procedures.
Please check out the website that is being constructed: http://justice4the6.wix.com/mysite
Please also visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/justice4the6/
Support from the community will be required to improve conditions at the HSTC shelter, where an extraordinarily high percentage of animals is euthanized, including animals that are healthy, treatable, and adoptable. The euthanasia rate in Palm City is more than double the rate at shelters in Palm Beach County which take in far more animals than HSTC. Please join local animal advocates in speaking out at BCC meetings during public comment. The County has a $560,000-a-year contract with HSTC that requires all stray or abandoned animals in Martin County to be taken to the HSTC shelter, where the majority face certain death.
Our tax dollars — nearly $47,000 each and every month — are going to the HSTC shelter. Yet just this week, HSTC asked for donations on its Facebook page, claiming:
“The shelter is out of wet food for both our dogs and cats! If you can help replenish our supply the animals would be extremely grateful, all donations can be brought to the shelter at 4100 Sw Leighton Farm Ave Palm City, Fl 34990”
How does a shelter that has assets in excess of $5 million and a budget in excess of $3.5 million annually run out of food for dogs and cats?
The Sheriff’s report notes that there is no heartworm prevention for HSTC shelter animals because there are “no funds” for this critical treatment.
Volunteers routinely dig into their pockets to pay for basic necessities for animals at the HSTC shelter because management says there are no funds available.
HSTC’s CEO, Frank Valente, receives more than $150,000 a year in salary and benefits. You’d think he could spring for a case of dog food every now and then . . .
The Sheriff’s report of the “investigation” of the shelter is not accurate or complete. Many witnesses have complained that the summaries of their interviews are simply wrong.
I am referred to in the report as “Attorney Lillian Sherlock”.
There was NO investigation. Only witness statements which were summarized and then rejected or refuted by investigators who didn’t bother to look for the truth.
Many attorneys dispute the interpretation of Florida statutes and Martin County code provisions used by the Sheriff and the State Attorney to decline to pursue criminal charges against HSTC management and staff who fail to provide treatment to injured or ill animals, who do not offer appropriate pain relief, and who euthanize animals in an extremely painful and disfavored manner called “heart stick”.
From the Justice4the6 website:
On January 20, 2016, in a small animal shelter in the affluent community of Palm City, Florida, six cats were euthanized by Staff. These patients were under direct veterinary care, undergoing brief Veterinarian assessment only hours before their demise. They were found to be of stable and improving health. While the attending Veterinarian was in surgery, the staff killed these patients for no other reason than they needed to make room for more sick cats. The Veterinarian was never consulted in the decision. The patients were simply disposed of, their cages filled with more sick animals. Shortly after, said Veterinarian resigned her position. Thus began the current turmoil at the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast.
As of this date, countless animals have been inhumanely euthanized at this facility. The public, past employees and volunteers, along with other humane organizations have filed complaints around the conditions, animal illness and overall mismanagement of the facility. In response, the prevailing Board has done nothing more than circle the wagons around their CEO, hiring an Attorney to release written declarations on their ‘standard of care.’ In a modest attempt at improving conditions, the Board hired the University of Florida Shelter Medicine program to make recommendations. That report is yet to be published. Understand: there is no one to hold the Facility responsible for enforcing these recommendations.
May 18, 2016, Martin County Sheriffs department concluded a two month investigation in to possible criminal charges associated with activities at the Facility. They found not enough evidence to press criminal charges. This does not vindicate the Facility: it simply states the level of abuse does not rise to criminality. Civil suit is an entirely different matter. You decide: Is this right in the eyes of the public’s moral compass?
Please help the animals by spreading the word about this cause and by demanding immediate change at the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast
Attorney Letter to the Martin County Commissioners regarding contract with The Humane Society of the Treasure Coast.
The Humane Society of the Treasure Coast is a private facility with NO association to the national Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
ACTION: Demand the Standards of Care as set by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians in conjunction with the Humane Society of the United States, be immediately conformed to.
At the present time there is NOT a full-time vet at The Humane Society of the Treasure Coast. Currently there are 2 part-time veterinarians working. One vet works 3 days performing spay/neuter surgeries and casually “treating” shelter animals. The other veterinarian works 2 days doing spay/neuters for the public, HSTC calls the program “AniMobile”. Shelter animals are not viewed by the vet on these two days. In conclusion HSTC has a veterinarian working 3 days a week, although they are open 7 days a week.
ACTION: Hire a FULL-TIME experienced Shelter Veterinarian allowed to make decisions on overall facilities management, animal flow, disease management and health care protocols.
ACTION: Stop all outside spay/neuter programs (aka AniMobile) until a full-time Veterinarian is on staff to manage disease outbreaks within the shelter, thus minimizing the impact of diseases being introduced to the publics animals.
Martin County Board of County Commission Meeting ~ May 24, 2016 Tuesday – 9:00AM
Dr. Julie Kittams will be addressing the Martin County Commissioners regarding their contract with the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast. She is looking for support in numbers for those who have no voice … the animals at the HSTC.
Time: Get yourself parked no later than 8:45am. Punctuality is imperative.
Address: 2401 SE Monterey Road, Stuart, FL
All individuals should plan on being parked and ready to enter the Commission chambers no later than 8:45AM. Everyone will need to go through security checks so be sure your phone is off and you left your pocket knife in your car. Be respectful and groomed. It is imperative we respect the Commission and the higher order they represent: respect is earned and not given. Be quiet, wait your turn, refrain from emotional outbursts. The Animals depend on us to make a formidable presence in a legitimate order. Channel 12 news will be there to cover the event. Everyone is a representative for the Animals. Our mantra is this:
Commissioners please add as an agenda item at the next meeting this: the Martin County contract with the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast. Pay particular attention to the requirement that a Florida licensed Veterinarian be the final judgement in the demise of each animal.
Justice prevails when the power of love wins over the love of power.