PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. – After a mail carrier was killed by dogs in Putnam County last year, PETA is placing the blame on the county’s animal control policies, calling them irresponsible, dangerous and deadly.
The I-TEAM previously reported the dogs’ owner had tried twice to turn the dogs into Animal Control after saying he couldn’t take care of them. Just days before the fatal attack on mail carrier Pamela Rock, Animal Control told the owner they don’t accept surrenders unless there is a dire need.
Now, PETA is urging Putnam County to overturn its “no-kill” policy.
What to do with unwanted or aggressive animals has been a contentious issue in the county for years.
At a county commission meeting Tuesday morning, local lawmakers discussed several options to address the problem, but the board didn’t take any action. A brother of Rock said the discussion is a step in the right direction, but there’s still work to be done.
Paul Adamczyk said he’s been proposing changes to Putnam County Animal Control since he was elected to the Board of County Commissioners two years ago.
“Our geography is so huge. Our manpower is so small,” Adamczyk said.
He suggested improving spay/neuter rates, cracking down on unlicensed pets and possibly opening a satellite Animal Control location in the southern or western part of the county.
Adamczyk represents the rural Interlachen area where Rock was killed in an attack in August.
“We also have to figure out a way to partner with these animal shelters and animal rescue places to get the animals out quicker,” he said. “Maybe we have to consider euthanizing some of the animals that are overflow for way too long.”
Putnam County Animal Control’s website says they are a no-kill shelter unless the animal is deemed dangerous.
Commissioner Larry Harvey said he thinks pet owners need to take responsibility for the animals in their care.
“I do feel very slighted, if you will, that I have to be asked to take care of somebody else’s animals because they don’t want to. I would love to do it when I can. But I don’t want to be forced to as a taxpayer,” Harvey said.
A few hours after the meeting, PETA released a letter they sent to the Board of County Commissioners, saying they’ve been hearing from members and supporters across the country who are alarmed that the owner of the dogs that killed Rock won’t face charges.
PETA accuses Animal Control of putting its “no-kill” status above the safety of animals and people in Putnam County.
“Please consider this situation an emergency and take immediate action to overturn the county animal control shelter’s dangerous, deceptive “no-kill” policy, which has resulted in death and deep suffering in Putnam County,” the letter reads. “Around 70 million dogs and cats are homeless in the U.S. at any given time. Many animal shelters—under pressure to avoid euthanasia at all costs—are turning dogs away and refusing to accept cats altogether. Many end up abandoned on the streets, where they may be hit by cars, infected with diseases, or hurt by cruel people—and the aggressive ones may injure local residents or other animals. That’s why PETA urges shelters—especially taxpayer-funded ones like Putnam County’s, which are obligated to serve the community and ensure public safety—to adopt a socially conscious shelter model that addresses critical public safety issues, prioritizes quality of life, doesn’t turn anyone away, and treats each animal as an individual, not a statistic.”
Rock’s brother, Dick Rock, said he and his family is still waiting for accountability.
“In my mind, nobody has yet taken ownership of this problem. That’s what I think would be real progress saying, hey, Rock family, you had a terrible tragedy, we’re sorry for your loss, and here’s what’s going to happen to make this never happens again,” Dick Rock said.
The Chair of the Commission Terry Turner said he thinks the board should follow the recommendations of the Animal Control Advisory Committee, which hasn’t presented recommendations to the board at this time.
The I-TEAM reached out to the county commissioners for a response to PETA’s letter. In an email, Adamczyk responded: “Euthanasia of an animal should be last resort, after all options have been explored, and capacity is an issue, including adoption, potential fostering, and alternative rescues. Government should not be in the business of storing animals longterm at the expense of all citizens. This needs to go hand and hand with spay and neutering programs, as well as enforcement and tangible consequences for those who do not properly care for or contain their animals to their individual property, or on leashes or command control in public.”
Other commissioners have not yet responded.