Manatee County commissioner seeks emergency meeting on animal services

skennedy@bradenton.comJuly 3, 2014 

MANATEE -- Manatee County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino on Wednesday called for an emergency meeting next week to discuss problems at the county Animal Services Division.

DiSabatino needs at least three other commissioners to join her for a quorum.

"It is my opinion that we need to call a special meeting ASAP to discuss Animal Services, even if we call the commissioners back from break," she wrote in an email to fellow commissioners, now on summer recess. "As long as we have four, we would have a quorum.

"I'm available anytime!"

For months, the division has been under fire following arrests in connection with an animal cruelty case at a private shelter.

Another Animals Services Division compliant arose Tuesday.

The Manatee County Sheriff's Office is investigating a complaint of possible animal abuse, said spokesman Dave Bristow.

An Animal Services employee reportedly kicked and threw a chair at dog in front of potential adopters.

In an email to a concerned resident, Manatee County Public Safety Director Ron Koper, who oversees county animal shelters, said his department is also investigating.

Early reports indicate the dog had become significantly cage-stressed as evinced by his "pacing" back and forth at the front of his kennel, Koper said.

"The potential adopter, her child and a person offering to pay for the adoption were in fact at the shelter (Tuesday) and our employee brought the dog into a play yard for them," he said.

The dog, called Happy Feet, attempted to defend his territory, but the employee used appropriate behavior to regain dominance of the yard by extending his leg toward the dog and firmly commanding it to heel, Koper wrote.

The dog bit the employee on the leg and knee, Koper said.

The potential adopter disagreed with the official account.

"That man provoked Happy. He was very rude from the beginning," she wrote on a Facebook page.

Calls to Animal Services Chief Kris Weiskopf were not returned Wednesday.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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