County Attorney Al Hadeed and Florida Rep. Paul Renner were honored for their efforts to aid animals.
The Flagler Humane Society had a record number of adoptions this past year — 1,985 — and is expecting a new record this year. With more and more animals passing through, staff is looking for new options to help keep the shelter pets — and other animals in the community — safe during hurricanes.
The shelter is working to secure a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to add a generator and storm shutters and perform other facility hardening, Humane Society Executive Director Amy Carotenuto told about 60 attendees at the shelter's annual "Town Howl" event Aug. 9.
But the grant is a matching grant, with FEMA covering 75% of the cost, and the shelter picking up the remaining 25% — estimated at $56,000. It will need to raise that money, Carotenuto said.
Palm Coast City Councilman Bob Cuff, one of the dozen or so local officials to attend the event, urged the Palm Coast City Council, during its Aug. 13 workshop, to support the shelter.
There is a persistent problem, Cuff said, of people having trouble finding a place to take their pets during a hurricane, and therefore deciding to stay home with them rather than evacuate. The shelter's proposed hardening project would allow it to take in a certain number of pets for people stuck in such situations.
"It struck me as a very worthy project," Cuff said at the workshop. "If we want to ensure that our animals are protected ... I would urge everybody to keep an eye out for what can be done to help the shelter get their generator in place and also get their storm shutters and other improvements that they're looking for with their grant. ... I know we have a contract for them to serve as the city's animal shelter, so if there's any opportunity for the city to partner with them, I think that would be a good idea as well."
In other efforts to aid local animals, Carotenuto said, the Flagler Humane Society supported the city of Bunnell's recent passage of an anti-tethering ordinance — prohibiting people from leaving dogs tied up outside — and is hoping that the city of Palm Coast and Flagler County will follow with similar ordinances this year.
"We appreciate that you all are passing laws that are progressive and that are going to help animals," Carotenuto said.
Rep. Paul Renner, County Attorney Al Hadeed honored
Florida Rep. Paul Renner and Flagler County Attorney Al Hadeed were both honored at the Town Howl for their efforts to support animals.
Renner played a vital role in the passage of legislation during the past legislative session that ensures that veterinarians can report evidence of animal cruelty to law enforcement officers.
The new law follows a case in which a man brought a dead puppy to a Miami-area veterinarian for cremation, the veterinarian reported the case to law enforcement as a possible animal abuse incident, and courts were divided over whether the vet had had the right to report it, said Jennifer Hobgood, the ASPCA's southeast region director of state legislation.
"We came up with a fix, and we talked to lawmakers about it," she said. "Before we knew it, he [Renner] had ... made sure it was in a committee bill that the judiciary was going to hear, and he saved the day."
The law was part of a larger criminal justice reform package.
Also recognized at the Town Howl was Flagler County Attorney Al Hadeed, who has represented Flagler County's animal control officers when they've had to defend their actions, Carotenuto said.
"Mr. Hadeed and his staff ... plead our case and keep the animal away from the abuser," Carotenuto said. "He has helped save lives, make lives better ... and now he’s the one helping us get that anti-tethering law passed."
And for years, Carotenuto said, Hadeed has worked to make sure that when a judge signs an order to keep an animal from being returned to an abusive home, that order also stipulates that the abuser may not own pets in the future.
Hadeed had also defended animal control officers' actions in a precedent-setting 1997 case involving the closure of a local puppy mill and the seizure of 358 dogs from the facility. The number of animals, due to births, grew to 531, and 410 of those were adopted by community members, Hadeed said.
"Really, our community deserved that award given to me today, along with Amy and her dedicated crew also being deserving," he wrote in an email after the event. "Without them, as you can see, none of these heroic measures would have been possible."
Flagler Humane Society holds first summer camp
The Flagler Humane Society held its first summer camp for children this summer, with 12 campers about 11-13 years old.
Each day, the kids learned about a different animal. One person even brought in a hedgehog to show the children, while others brought in snakes, tortoises and bearded dragons.
The students also leaned how to groom and bathe the different critters — even the hedgehog, said Christen Brautigan, the FHS's veterinary technician and camp counselor.
"Three of them signed up to be foster [pet] parents with their families, and we actually had a couple animals adopted while they were here," Brautigan said. "We made handmade cat treats, handmade dog treats, toys for the animals. … So, it was a lot of fun."