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Another letter alleges misconduct at ACPS

Letter from volunteer raises questions about practices at city animal shelter

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A day after reports emerged about an anonymous letter to the city ethics office requesting an investigation into Animal Care and Protective Services, the city received another letter raising questions about the shelter's practices.

The initial letter alleged two managers at the shelter are falsifying numbers and using fraudulent reports to maintain the shelter's "no kill" status.

That status means less than 10 percent of the adoptable animals that come in to the shelter are euthanized.

The second letter, which came from a volunteer, says managers limit what volunteers can do and say and that they make it difficult for people to surrender pets or adopt pets.

DOCUMENTS: Volunteer letter about ACPS |
 Anonymous whistleblower letter about ACPS

A man who used to work at ACPS said he's witnessed many of the things brought up in the letters.

"I knew it was going to happen sooner or later again. Maybe this time, they will take it serious," John Dolores said.

Dolores worked at ACPS for nearly 13 years and said last year, he wrote a letter to the city about many of the same issues.

The most recent letter from a volunteer accuses two managers of limiting work volunteers can do, work the writer believes would help more animals get adopted.

It also said volunteer suggestions are not welcome.

The letter goes on to echo many of the complaints brought up in a previous letter, accusing managers of misclassifying animals as having medical or behavioral issues when they don't, so the animals can be euthanized without counting against the shelter's "no kill" status.

"We would have dogs that would have a great SAFER score one day, and then when the shelter started getting full, they would re-evaluate, and all of a sudden, they would get high marks and have to be euthanized immediately," Dolores said.

Dolores said he believes it was part of an attempt to keep overcrowding down.

But Denise Deisler, executive director of the Jacksonville Humane Society, an organization which works closely with ACPS, said changes in an animal's condition happen at shelters. She said she and other leaders of animal care organizations have in-depth discussions before any animal is euthanized in Duval County.

"It is certainly possible that they get sick. It's possible that, what we call 'failure to respond,' happens. That despite treatment and despite the best efforts, they are still not thriving. They're still not recuperating," Deisler said. "We have some animals that after long-term sheltering, their behavior degenerates."

Deisler also addressed another claim in the letter, alleging that new ACPS rules make it hard for people to surrender their pets.

She said shelters often control intake so they can work with people to see if there are other options before dropping off an animal.

"We are going to do everything we can to try to prevent that animal from entering the shelter so that the shelter space is reserved for those animals that actually don't have any other option," Deisler said.

What happens next is up to the city.

But Dolores said he hopes officials take the concerns raised in the letters seriously.