Victory: County Commission adopts Domestic Animal Control Task Force recommendations



An update from Ginny Sherlock, renowned local attorney, civic activist, and former Associated Press editor: In a huge victory for animals and taxpayers, the Martin County Commission voted 3-2 today to approve a three-month extension of the County’s animal care services contract with the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast so long as the recommendations of the Domestic Animal Control Task Force are included (with the exception of the recommendation that requires HSTC to hire a full-time veterinarian).


In a lengthy and thoughtful discussion of issues raised by many residents and animal advocates about the quality of care provided at the HSTC shelter, Commissioners Sarah Heard, Anne Scott, and Ed Fielding voted to extend the current HSTC contract only if the following Task Force recommendations are included: prohibit the use of “heart stick” to euthanize animals at the Palm City shelter; implement flea control and heartworm prevention treatment programs for all animals at the shelter; install security cameras in the euthanasia area; follow euthanasia protocols identified by the DAC Task Force veterinarian member; increase transparency of HSTC’s statistical and data information; and retain an outside shelter management team to work with HSTC staff to improve management at the shelter.


The commissioners recognized that employing a full-time veterinarian could be costly and difficult to accomplish during the extension period (although the University of Florida shelter assessment team that reviewed the Palm City shelter recommended more than six months ago that two full-time veterinarians be hired).


Public comment was presented by Erica Smith, Adrianna Carroll, Myra Galoci, Scott Coccoli, Polly Campenni of Domino’s House, and Joanne Matz in support of the DAC Task Force and the recommendations the Task Force were submitted to the Commission.  Letters and e-mails of support were sent by Marge Ketter and by the Board of Directors of Caring Fields Felines.


Commissioners Doug Smith and John Haddox wanted to extend the HSTC contract without any changes and voted against adopting the Task Force recommendations.


The vote today means that the County will make a “counter-offer” to the HSTC offer to continue to provide services under the existing contract in the same manner as services are currently provided (and at the same cost to taxpayers of more than $46,600.00 per month).  The County Attorney advised that the HSTC Board of Directors does not have another meeting scheduled until November and may not be able to respond to the County Commission’s requirement to adopt the Task Force recommendations before the current contract extension runs out on October 31.  However, Commissioners Scott and Heard suggested that the HSTC Board consider scheduling a meeting within the next week to discuss this extremely important and urgent matter.


Please thank Commissioners Scott, Heard and Fielding for insisting on compassionate and humane treatment for animals in Martin County by adopting the Task Force recommendations.  You can e-mail them at, and


And thank Task Force members for their dedicated and invaluable work.  Contact them at


Let’s hope that the future brings a cooperative alliance between the Humane Society and local animal shelters and rescue organizations working together to save the lives of animals throughout Martin County.

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