Lake County could ask Sheriff's Office to take over Animal Services



LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - The Lake County Commission's decision to ask the sheriff to take over Animal Services has many concerned about safety.

Many residents don't like the idea of inmates working at the facility, which would likely happen because there's a lot of money to be saved using free inmate labor, according to Channel 9's Berndt Petersen.

The last two directors of Lake County Animal Services resigned partly because they couldn't take all the public criticism over the number of euthanizations versus the number of adoptions, Petersen said.

"I certainly don't want this to be an issue of we couldn't do it and we're passing off our problems to the sheriff," said Leslie Campione of the Lake County Commission.

The county commission officially asked Sheriff Gary Borders to present a plan to take over the shelter, but some commission members warned if they give up control, they give up their say.

"You can't give Animal Services to the sheriff and then tell him how to run it," said Commission Chairman Jimmy Conner.

That's what concerns some members of the local animal rescue groups.

"Here you have a voice of five to try to get five votes.  With the sheriff, it's one vote.  You have to wait four years to wait to get somebody else in there," said rescue worker Kent Weber.

Sheriff's officials have already said they could save money by using inmate labor at the shelter, but that worries some parents who might take their children there to pick out a pet.

"It would have to be something where the inmates are just strictly cleaning cages and dishes and doing anything but working with the public," said Weber.

The sheriff is sending staff to other counties where the Sheriff's Office runs Animal Services. The commission wants to see a plan within the next couple of months.