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St. Lucie Sheriff executes search warrant at Humane Society shelter in Fort Pierce

The St. Lucie News-Tribune (West Palm Beach) 8/8/2019 Will Greenlee and Keona Gardner

FORT PIERCE — St. Lucie County sheriff's officials Thursday shared no new details about a search conducted Wednesday at the Humane Society of St. Lucie County on Savannah Road.  The agency's other facility, on Glades Cut-Off Road, was not searched, officials said.

According to Humane Society volunteer Dale Mutchler, of Fort Pierce, the search warrant was issued as a result of complaints to the Sheriff’s Office of animal neglect. A Sheriff’s Office official Thursday declined to comment on the warrant.

“They are looking into complaints that were established of possible neglect of animals that kind of lead to cruelty and basically the death of certain animals,” said Mutchler, who found the body of volunteer Christine Liquori, who was fatally mauled by a dog in May at the Savannah Road facility.

“I wrote down quite a bit of information for them and took it to the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s (Office) and they’ve been moving forward with it,” Mutchler said. “It’s not just my information. They’ve acquired quite a bit of their own.”

Questions Thursday were referred to David Robertson, executive director of the Humane Society. He did not return a phone call seeking comment.

The shelter remains open, said a woman working in the front office Thursday.

Mutchler said he thought people still should try to rescue and adopt animals from the Humane Society.

“Those animals need homes, they need friends, they need people,” he said. “They don’t need to stay there and they don’t need to be euthanized.”

More: Fort Pierce unveils plan to take over Humane Society shelter on Savannah Road

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More: Fort Pierce to temporarily take over operations of Humane Society of St. Lucie County on Oct. 1

Wednesday’s search is just the latest development for the embattled shelter.

On Monday, the Fort Pierce City Commission said it would not renew the Humane Society’s contract when it expires on Sept. 30. Staff members of the city of Port St. Lucie and St. Lucie County indicated they would recommend their elected officials do the same.

Beginning Oct. 1, Fort Pierce plans close the Savannah Road shelter and take over services.

The Humane Society had asked Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie and St. Lucie County to increase its total funding from about $520,500 to about $1.2 million.  The Humane Society of the Treasure Coast in Palm City received $743,278 this year from Martin County to operate its open-admission animal shelter, according to the Martin County budget.

The Fort Pierce shelter reported receiving only $103 in donations since January.

The Humane Society rejected a request from the local government to make public a third party's review of its operations and to provide updated financial statements and a business plan.

Problems at the shelter became known in September after Fort Pierce and county staff members and animal activists conducted a walk-through inspection of the Savannah and Glades-Cut Off facilities. 

Officials found animal cages full of feces; empty water bowls; temperatures hovering near 90 degrees; no air conditioning, and at the Glades Cut-Off shelter, no fans because of failed electrical outlets; and no veterinarian on the premises for days at a time.

a house that has a sign on the side of a road: An adult volunteer was found dead at the Humane Society of St. Lucie County facility off Savannah Road in Fort Pierce on Thursday, May 9, 2019, after Fort Pierce police responded to a report of a dog bite. © XAVIER MASCAREÑAS/TCPALM An adult volunteer was found dead at the Humane Society of St. Lucie County facility off Savannah Road in Fort Pierce on Thursday, May 9, 2019, after Fort Pierce police responded to a report of a dog bite.

More: 'I don’t feel comfortable in the place' Humane Society of St. Lucie County volunteer says

More: 'Deplorable' conditions puts Humane Society shelter animals at risk in St. Lucie County

More: Is the Humane Society of St. Lucie County out of money? And if so, now what? | Gil Smart

Staff writer Keona Gardner contributed to this report. 

This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: St. Lucie Sheriff executes search warrant at Humane Society shelter in Fort Pierce

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