BRADENTON -- The Manatee County Animal Services Advisory Board overseeing the Manatee County Animal Services Division agreed Wednesday to draft a letter to county commissioners saying it had been misled on the situation at the Napier animal rescue.
"I feel as though we have a responsibility as a county advisory board. We believe we were seriously misled," said Jean Peelen, board member and a Holmes Beach city commissioner. "We need to tell commissioners we were misinformed by animal services about the conditions" over the last year."
Board members said they would ask about reports something was amiss at the East Manatee shelter, but were told by animal services officials the operation was borderline, but OK.
The board agreed to compose a draft letter and to discuss it further during its next meeting April 3.
"We want to go on record saying we were told one thing, and something else happened in reality," said board member Rebecca Neal, who is also board president at the Humane Society of Manatee County.
"I think there's really been a breach in trust," said audience member Caryn Hodge.
After a law enforcement raid at the shelter last month, about 300 animals were confiscated, many in serious distress.
Board members said they were shocked to learn of the filth and horrendous conditions exposed in the raid.
Manatee County Animal Services officials said they never found evidence of animal cruelty or other violations at the shelter before the raid, but nearby residents had complained for years about animals that appeared too thin and ill, trash everywhere on the property and an overwhelming number of animals, the Herald reported Sunday.
Napier's Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary at 20010 State Road 64 E., remains closed, but its owners, Alan and Sheree Napier, have said through their attorney they feel they have done nothing wrong, and hope to reopen.
No charges have been filed in connection with the case.
About 30 people attended the board meeting Wednesday in a meeting room near County Administrative Center, including Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore and two Manatee County Commission candidates, Terri Wonder and Corie Holmes.
Also attending was animal services chief Kris Weiskopf, who declined comment after the meeting.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.