Putnam County Animal Control is in the spotlight, within the state and now nationally thanks to a Jacksonville television station.
When I first became aware of this small, rural facility, it was through an email describing the conditions at the shelter and the killing of all bully breeds. The email asked if anyone had any ideas on how we could bring more exposure to help these homeless animals find a place where they would be safe in a loving home, or at least a rescue, with no danger of being killed.
I belong to a wonderful crossposting group on Facebook called G.R.I.T.S. which was begun by three wonderful women who loved animals. It was started to bring exposure to animals in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. I contacted one of the administrators and shortly thereafter, we had some volunteers who were willing to go to the facility, take pictures and post them and the exposure began.
When rescue groups were asked to step forward and to pull some of the more needy ones, they picked up the reins and began attempting to pull animals to decrease the overcrowding in the shelter and save as many lives as possible.
Pit Sisters, which is a group out of Jacksonville, began trying to pull pitbulls and/or bully breeds, which faced death due to the policy at the facility. If they could begin by saving just one dog, could develop a relationship with the shelter so maybe even more could be saved, then what we were doing was worth it.
We in rescue understand euthanasia. We don't like it, but understand the necessity at times due to space and money. The killing of a particular breed, in this case pitbulls and pit mixes is where our understanding flies out the window.
Florida is one of twelve states which prohibit local governments from enacting laws that regulate dog ownership based solely on dog breed.
Florida law: Section 767.14 prohibits breed discrimination in Florida except in cities or counties where a breed discriminatory ordinance was in place prior to October 1, 1990.
As you can see, Putnam County is in direct violation of this statute. On Friday, 17 bully breeds were destroyed. Although the department says it was not a retaliatory act, you can judge for yourself. An unnamed person went and adopted a dog, which was a bully breed. This is against shelter policy. When the adopter was contacted and told the dog must be returned to the shelter and refused, 17 dogs lost their lives. This is horrendous.
Putnam County is not the only small, rural shelter with a limited budget in Florida. There are many. The problem is and continues to be in these small areas, the thought they are their own fiefdom, can make and enact their own laws and carry them out as they see fit.
Breed discrimination, no matter where, is still wrong. It is especially wrong in a state which has laws to protect the animals and the main law enforcement agency is not following the law. Shame on you Putnam County and shame on the Sheriff for allowing this to continue.