ST. LUCIE COUNTY — The rescue of dogs and cats from a nonprofit, no-kill pet shelter on Okeechobee Road now totals about 80 animals, according to one of the rescuers.
Many of the small specialty dogs, such as dachshunds, are in foster homes while the cats remain in a protective quarantine at the Highlands Animal Hospital, Sebastian.
“We had a huge outpouring from the public” after the animals were removed last week from the All Pet Rescue kennel in the 12400 block of Okeechobee Road, Van DeMars with the Indian River Count Chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said on Sunday.
Last week, information provided by DeMars and a representative H.A.L.O. Rescue, in Sebastian, led to the arrest of the Okeechobee woman who runs the shelter and the initial removal of 51 dogs and one cat from the Okeechobee Road business, sheriff’s officials said.
Shelter president Rosa Harding, 67, of Okeechobee, was arrested Friday by sheriff’s deputies on a charge of cruelty to animals, arrest reports show. The website for All Pet Rescue now is suspended, according to a notice on the site. The shelter has been in operation since around 2001.
The animals, according to an arrest affidavit, were kept in undersized cages — with barely enough room turn around in — in high heat.
Through the years there have been some complaints about the operation, according to sheriff’s reports. Then in recent weeks “her own volunteers called, giving the conditions,” DeMars said. “That gave us the information to act. When I arrived, some more animals were being dropped off.”
When deputies visited All Pet Rescue “the building the dogs and one exotic cat was being house in was a galvanized metal warehouse … with no air conditioning and no insulation,” creating stifling heat, the affidavit states.
The drinking water allegedly was covered with green algae and “not fit to drink,” according to a sheriff’s news release.
Harding initially agreed to give all the animals to the SPCA and to H.A.L.O. Rescue, a Sebastian-based no-kill facility. But when returning to pick up more animals, DeMars and fellow rescuers found the door locked on a building for cats. Eventually the two groups were able to collect the cats and some additional dogs, DeMars said.
The cats will be offered for adoption after release from medical care. About 20 dogs remain at H.A.L.O Rescue, he said.
“They (the dogs) were easy to find homes for” because they were small, specialty breeds including dachshunds and Shih Tzu, DeMars said.
Article source: http://www.tcpalm.com/news/local-news/st-lucie-county/about-80-animals-removed-from-fort-pierce-shelter_70001349