BREVARD COUNTY, Florida -- Earlier this month, the Brevard County Clerk of Court's office released a review of the Brevard County Animal Service and Enforcement department (BASE). Among the findings was an allegation that BASE engaged in compatibility testing of dogs and cats which resulted in the euthanization of a dog after it attacked a cat during the testing.
After the report was released, CBS Orlando affiliate Channel 6 quoted Brevard County Manager Stockton Whitten as saying, "This is a report that appears to be a compilation of personal opinions on how Brevard County Animal Services and Enforcement is to be operated."
After the story ran on Channel 6, Brevard County Clerk of Court, Scott Ellis, provided Brevard Times with computer screen shots of what he says proves the shelter engaged in cat and dog compatibility testing.
“If you read Stockton’s report it does not come close to matching what Animal Services wrote themselves. “dog hid her head in my lap proceeded to cat social to test and she smelled one and immediately went for her throat and latched on,” Ellis said. "The cat was mortally wounded and the dog was killed due the lunacy of this ‘test’."
"I was advised that the incident discussed in the Clerk’s review occurred in January 2013, over 18 months ago," Whitten said in an email about Ellis' evidence. "It was explained to me that a potential adopter wanted to adopt a dog and was concerned because they had cats at home. They asked staff to assist with determining if the dog they wanted was aggressive with cats. The staff member walked the dog past the cat cages and they related that the dog was indifferent. They took a cat and the dog to a socialization area and that is where the cat was fatally injured by the dog."
"The Clerk’s auditor was not present at the time of the incident and obviously has determined that based on this one incident Animal Services is now engaged in dog and cat compatibly testing," Whitten continued. "The Channel 6 report actually alleged that Animal Services was “causing dog and cat fights on purpose.” Both of these conclusions are based on the presentation of one incident within the hundreds of shelter operating days since January 2013. I have not been made aware of any other similar incidents nor has the Clerk presented evidence of such. The employee that handled this incident is no longer with the County, and to ensure there is no confusion regarding techniques for introducing pets, the Animal Services Director is drafting a standard operating procedure for staff to follow to ensure the safety of the animal and the staff."
"They knew from an outside incident just prior the dog had issues with cats," Ellis said in response. "This same type of ‘aggression testing’ has been done with dog on dog scenarios to find reason to put animals down. We did not even search records for this one, there were volunteers on site when the first outside occurrence happened. Needless to say not only was the County Manager not present at the incident, but County Management as a whole has avoided the shelters like the plague."
"Brevard Animal Services continues to exceed many open admission shelters in their adoption/live release rates in Florida," Whitten said. "There is always room for improvement which we will continue to strive to address. The Sheriff’s Office is working with us closely during this transition period, and will be taking over the operation in its entirety effective October 1, 2014."
"The incident itself speaks for the caliber of the Shelter Management," said Ellis. "If County Management had spent half as much effort to fix problems as making excuses for them the Sheriff would not to be taking over.”
Screen shots of BASE notes regarding cat and dog compatibility testing. Click to enlarge: