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Lee County Animal Services to undergo assessment in shelter

By Staff | Feb 19, 2009

The University of Florida is coming to Lee County Animal Services to perform a shelter assessment.
The assessment’s objective is to determine if and where improvements could be made in the shelter’s operations.
It is the first time the agency has had a professional assessment conducted by veterinarians, despite having a full-time veterinarian on staff, said Lee County Animal Services information officer Ria Brown.
It is the second time UF has conducted a county animal shelter assessment in Florida. The other was for Duval County.
However, it is not the first time Lee County Animal Services has worked with UF veterinarian medical staff.
Agency officials contacted UF doctors when a contagious and incurable corona virus broke out at the shelter last year.
“We’ve been in touch with them before, but this will be more official and more in depth,” Brown said.
The $9,000 inspection comes at no cost to Lee County taxpayers. It will be paid for through the Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Program, which pumps $4 million into UF’s veterinary school.
If a healthy animal is an adoptable animal, then the assessment’s focus to make certain more healthy animals pass through the county’s system. Part of that process involves two public forums.
The first forum, called a stakeholder’s meeting, brings together animal welfare agencies and public veterinarians with UF doctors to discuss animal welfare in Lee County.
Agency officials will not attend the first meeting, but they will have a presence the following night at a trap-neuter-release presentation to discuss controlling the feral cat population.
Brown said Lee County Animal Services does not have a trap-neuter-release program in place. The presentation is an opportunity to begin moving in that direction by working with the public.
One of the UF representatives is Dr. Julie Levy, one the state’s foremost experts on feral cats.
“We think this will benefit us and the public to learn about the pros and cons of TNR (trap-neuter-release),” Brown said. “Our only methods to control the feral cat population so far have been to trap and euthanize them. It hasn’t worked, and we need to look at other options because you don’t want to follow the ones that don’t.”
While the proposed trap-neuter-release program is a floating idea at this point, Brown speculated that the program would not be funded by the county, instead organized by private, public or nonprofit groups.
“There are a lot of people interested in doing this,” she said.
Registration is required for both public events.
To register for the trap-neuter-release forum, contact Lee County Animal Services at 533-7387.
To register for the stakeholer’s meeting, visit: www.ufsheltermedicine.com. A brief survey is required to register.