Fund shortage puts animals at Baker County shelter at-risk

If shelter can't prepare animals for adoption, they'll be put down

BAKER COUNTY, Fla. – A shortage of funds for Baker County Animal Control has residents concerned over the fate of animals brought to the shelter.

Those residents plan to petition their representatives at the next county commissioners meeting Tuesday for a budget amendment that would provide more funds for the shelter.

Connie Cannaday, who runs The London Sanctuary animal rescue in Baker County, said Animal Control received $1,000 less in this year’s budget to vaccinate and spay and neuter animals before they are adopted out, and the money in that fund is gone.

Legally, she said, that means the shelter can’t adopt animals out because it doesn't have the money to prepare the animals for release.

“We have an overpopulation issue, and then the issue with the budget,” Cannaday said. “What I understand is that the money for adoptions has run out until October. That was told to me by one of the animal control officers.”

Baker County Manager Kennie Downing released a statement, saying in part:

"Baker County learned recently of incorrect accusations relating to the Animal Control Department. In an effort to clarify any miscommunication, Baker County only intends to have animals held by Animal Control either returned to their lawful owners or adopted to caring and loving homes. Regardless of limited financial resources, our vision and direction is to care for all animals."

Animal Control officials said that they are still adopting out dogs, but they're trying to encourage people to send dogs to rescues instead of bringing them to the shelter, because animal control is a kill facility and if workers can’t legally adopt the animals out, they will be euthanized.

“The real issue is us. The citizens are the ones letting our dogs run at large. We're not spaying and neutering our animals. All of those animals have to go somewhere and that somewhere is animal control,” Cannaday said. “Being open intake, she has to accept them, so if we as citizens will keep our dogs contained, spay and neuter our dogs, the population will just naturally decrease, and there won't really be an issue.”

Local residents told News4Jax that a huge issue with the animal population is that people just can’t handle being pet owners and let their dogs loose in the county instead of trying to find a new home for them.

“People don't care about their animals when they should,” Landon Trees said. “If you love your animals, then you should take care of them instead of just throwing them off the road. I've seen two dogs who were so skinny ... they are on the side of the road, cramped up, sitting there cold and brittle and hungry.”

Resident Lesley Semigman said the key is getting more money to the Baker County shelter so it won't have to euthanize its animals.

That's just what Cannaday hopes to do with her request to the county commission, which will happen at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

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