The Weekly Newspaper’s received a Letter to the Editor this week detailing yet another incident in the on-going SUFA/FKSPCA saga.

Middle Keys resident Karen Nielsen began volunteering at Stand Up For Animals several months prior to Linda Gottwald’s request for increased budgeting from Monroe County.

Nielsen said she started by visiting the shelter about one day a week. One weekly visit turned into two, and before she knew it, the pups were eagerly anticipating her daily visits.

“I’d only met Linda a couple of times in passing,” Nielsen explained, adding that she interacted primarily with younger staffers Katie and Nicole.

As she began to ask staff what the facility’s needs were, Nielsen found she had the time and resources to help. She solicited for a load of pea rock for the front of the building, bought chewy toys for the dogs with money from her own pocket and even purchased some nylon rope and took it to Coast Guard Station Marathon where they knotted and prepared the roping to be used as dog leashes.

Nielsen said this past Monday; she went to the shelter with a pocket full of treats as she often used to do. When she asked FKSPCA Shelter Director Luann Huff about a particular dog named Rudy, Huff told her the dog had been sent to Key West, as his chances of being adopted were greater there. A bit more prodding revealed the dog, which Nielsen claimed was incredibly gentle with a wonderful temperament, had actually been euthanized.

An email inquiry from Marathon City Manager Roger Hernstadt to Florida Keys FKSPCA Executive Director Connie Christian verifying the incident asked, “I did not think this was the case because we specifically discussed this circumstance during the SUFA/FKSPCA transitional meetings and your folks assured us that this would not occur (we even committed to locally fund raise to pay for sustenance if necessary). Can you clarify?”

The following is a portion of Christian’s response.

“…There are many factors that are taken into consideration, health being only one of those factors. However, when we have a dog that is deemed to have a high propensity to bite, for whatever reason, we are not comfortable placing that animal up for adoption. This would create an enormous liability for both our organization as well as the County… Having a love of animals and a concern for their wellbeing is the most important quality for an organization operating an animal shelter. But, it’s not the only quality… While I appreciate your offer for fund raising, we do not euthanize animals due to lack of resources and have on many occasions made specific pleas for donations so that we can provide necessary medical care for animals…”

“There’s a lot of money involved in this, and that’s why people are fighting about it,” Nielsen demanded.

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