THEY CAN’T SAVE LIVES ON SUNSHINE
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, September 1999:
FLORIDA––Monroe County on July 8 turned
over management of the Key West and Marathon animal
shelters to the Florida Keys SPCA––and cut the county
animal control budget by 10%.
Despite the cut, Florida Keys SPCA president
Gwen Hawtof was reportedly optimistic that animal care
would improve and shelter killing decrease. The
Humane Animal Care Coalition has already made similar
progress after taking over the Key Largo shelter in
1998, HACC president Tom Garretson told M i a m i
Herald staff writer Hancy Klingener.
But even before the reported “worst parvovirus
outbreak in memory” hit Orange County Animal
Services in Orlando, it was a hard month for many
other Florida humane institutions.
• Planned Pethood of Collier County closed
its six-and-a-half-year-old neutering clinic in Golden
Gate at the end of July.
• In Ocala, ETC Horse Rescue faced eviction.
• In Davie, the Hoof and Halter Foundation
faced possible prosecution for alleged neglect of 17
horses, a pig, and 40 birds who were taken from the
premises by Broward County Animal Control on July
22, soon after the Florida Department of Children and
Families removed the 12-year-old grandson of founders
Yvonne Moran and James Schupolsky.
On August 3 Broward County Animal Care
division veterinarian Allan Siegel said Moran and
Schupolsky had evidently not neglected 27 dogs and cats
who were taken from Hoof and Halter. But a judge
ruled on August 10 that nor any of the other animals
would be returned to Hoof and Halter pending disposition
of related legal actions.
“There’s no way the birds should go back,”
said Diane Watchinski, director of development for the
Wildlife Care Center in Fort Lauderdale.
“These animals don’t need to be returned to
the way they were living,” agreed South Florida SPCA
director Laurie Waggoner. The South Florida SPCA
took temporary custody of the large animals.
All three of the troubled organizations reportedly
were financially stressed.
“Relying on private donations for funding,”
ETC Horse Rescue founders Michael and Susan Heck
“fell behind on their mortgage payments and were foreclosed
upon last month,” Ocala Star-Banner staff writer
Seth Soffian wrote. “On June 29, Jack Knap, who originally
sold the property to the Hecks last year, paid
$400,000 through his attorney to reclaim the property.”
The Hecks had about 85 horses in their care.
Bailing out ETC Horse Rescue, Susan Heck told ANIMAL
PEOPLE, would take approximately $700,000.
“Dwindling funds and a lack of community
support” also shut Planned Pethood, wrote Naples Daily
News staff writer Elissa Osebald.
The Planned Pethood equipment was sold to
Fitzgerald Oliver, DVM, medical director for the
Collier County Humane Society, who was to pay for the
acquisitions by performing approximately 300 neutering
surgeries at the Planned Pethood prices, Planned
Pethood vet Elton Gissendanner II, 71, told Osebald.
The Planned Pethood clinic was an outgrowth
of Planned Pethood of America Inc., cofounded in 1988
by Gissendanner and Bea and Robert Rose. The Roses,
who started the former Friends of Animals neutering
program in Miami in 1970, were then five years into a
seven-year legal battle with FoA over first the use of
funds sent to FoA headquarters, and later the 1986 closure
by FoA of a thrift store that the Roses bought, ran,
and deeded to FoA to fund the Miami operations.
Gissendanner was reportedly paid $100,000 a
year to neuter animals for the Humane Society of
Greater Miami. In December 1992, Gissendanner
became director of the humane society, succeeding 25-
year director Kenneth McGovern, who resigned amid
criticism after Hurricane Andrew.
Gissendanner took no salary as director, but
continued to hold the neutering contract. Florida deputy
attorney general Mike Burnstein in October 1993 called
this a conflict of interest. Gissendanner was succeeded
in January 1994 by former Broward County Animal
Control director Rick Collard, 53.
Collard left in August 1995 to become executive
director at his current post, the Clark County
Humane Society in Vancouver, Washington.
Colonel Tom had a way
One reason for leaving, Collard indicated,
was the difficulty of fundraising in Florida––which has a
fast-rising cost of living, high percentages of fixed
income and lower income residents, and a veterinary
establishment militantly opposed to low-cost neutering.
In Tampa, for instance, the Humane Society
of Tampa Bay recently asked Hillsborough County to
spend $25,000 to $50,000 a year to subsidize neutering
the pets of low-income owners. The program would be
modeled after others that have saved cities as much as
$10 in animal control costs per dollar invested since Los
Angeles introduced the basic structure in 1973. But the
proposal was reportedly blocked by Hillsborough
County Animal Advisory Board members Richard Kane,
DVM, president-elect of the county veterinary society,
and Bob Encinosa, DVM, who is in private practice.
Responding to the challenge, Tom Parker,
then manager of the Hillsborough County Humane
Society, in the late 1930s showed the humane community
how to generate income by running a pet cemetery.
Parker, after leaving the humane society, made much
bigger money managing singer Elvis Presley.
Customs have changed, land is now costly,
and pet cemeteries are accordingly no longer greatly
profitable for most operators. But providing guaranteed
care for the pets of deceased persons via trusts or
bequests could become the biggest fundraising mechanism
for humane societies ever, then-Lee County
Humane Society president Roland Eastland (now retired)
told ANIMAL PEOPLE in 1993. Such arrangements
are increasingly popular, at an average requisite trust
amount or bequest of $5,000 per animal.
Hoping to compete for tourism and entertainment
dollars, the Humane Society of Seminole County
and subcontractors reportedly took a big loss in April
when a two-day benefit concert flopped. Executive
director Jeff Cashatt admitted having “paid for an event
that didn’t raise money,” but refused to share specifics
with Orlando Sentinel reporter Elaine Backhaus, who
investigated reports of unpaid debts in late July.
“The incident is the latest in a stretch of financial
problems for the nonprofit shelter,” Backhaus
wrote. “Police are looking for the group’s former treasurer,
who is accused of stealing about $60,000 in donations.
She disappeared in 1997.”