MANATEE -- A selection committee Wednesday voted unanimously in favor of accepting a proposal from a California consulting firm to review the Manatee County Animal Services Division.
The Matrix Consulting Group of Mountainview, Calif., was selected for the comprehensive evaluation of the animal services operation, which has been under fire for months.
New committee member Sue Kolze, vice president of the Bradenton nonprofit Animal Network Inc., joined county officials reviewing the final two proposals.
The second-place finisher for the job was nonprofit organization Humane Network based in Reno, Nev.
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Once Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker approves, negotiations can begin with Matrix to decide how evaluation will be done and how much it will cost, said Dennis Wallace, procurement contracts and buyer manager for the county purchasing division.
The county Animal Services operation has been under scrutiny since Feb. 5, when Napier's Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctu
ary, 20010 State Road 64, was raided by a multi-law enforcement effort led by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. Roughly 300 animals were rescued from what investigators termed "deplorable" conditions. Owners Alan and Sheree Napier have been arrested in connection with the animal cruelty case and pleaded not guilty.
They are to stand trial Oct. 20.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.