Hernando County Investigating Its Animal Services Department


Published: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 2:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 2:50 p.m.

BROOKSVILLE | A little more than a week after the quick euthanizing of an 8-month-old pit bull mix named Zeus by Hernando County Animal Services personnel, interim County Administrator Ron Pianta announced Tuesday he has launched an independent audit to find answers that hopefully will prevent similar incidents.

Pianta told county commissioners that a preliminary look into the incident convinced him that the department's policies and procedures regarding euthanasia need to reviewed.

"We want to figure out what the problem is and how to fix it," Pianta said. The system, he said, "can be improved."

Pianta's pledge came after more than a dozen outraged animal lovers appeared before commissioners, demanding answers over the April 13 incident at the county's shelter in Brooksville. Zeus was euthanized soon after he was surrendered at the shelter that day by relatives of his owner.

The investigation, which will be handled by the county's audit services staff, with support from human resources staffers, will look into policies and procedures regarding euthanization, personnel training for kennel workers and Animal Services policies regarding owner-surrender of animals.

In the meantime, until the investigation is complete, all decisions regarding the need to euthanize animals will be made by the county's public safety director, Mike Nickerson. Animal Services employees involved in the Zeus incident will not be involved in euthanasia assessments.

Nickerson said he expects that the investigation to take between three and four weeks.

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