‘Barking up the wrong tree’: More than dozen animals removed from DeLand animal sanctuary

Video: More than dozen animals removed from DeLand animal sanctuary

DELAND, Fla. — A 92-year-old woman stood in tears Wednesday as more than a dozen animals were removed from her animal sanctuary, where she said animals are able to live out their final days in peace.

Florence Thuot said she’s run Journey’s End Animal Sanctuary for 40 years. She said it serves as a place where handicapped or homeless animals can live out their last days.

But Volusia County officials said they hired outside experts after they received complaints about the conditions at the sanctuary.

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They were working with Thuot to improve conditions, but they said more needs to be done.

A county spokesperson said while they believe her heart is in the right place, there were a number of animals that need a more acute level of care than the sanctuary can provide.

“I think they are doing the very best that they can with the resources that they have, but they seem to be a bit overwhelmed by the number of animals that they care for,” said Gary Davidson with Volusia County.

Volusia County Animal Control loaded up 16 animals from the sanctuary Wednesday.

"I can't handle the animals being taken away that have been here for years," Thuot said in tears.

Journey's End Animal Sanctuary owner said she was heartbroken watching animals being taken from her property.
Journey's End Animal Sanctuary owner said she was heartbroken watching animals being taken from her property. (WFTV.com News Staff)

County officials said the goal is not to shut the sanctuary down but to continue to make suggestions to improve conditions here.

But DeLand veterinarian Dr. Teri Harty said if she noticed a problem with animal care at the sanctuary, she would have spoke up about it.

She said she disagrees with the county's outside experts. She said upkeep is always an issue when it comes to animals.

“We are taking cats and putting them in cages where right now, they have a cat house and outdoor access to a patio,” Harty said. “So I think we are barking up the wrong tree."

The county believes many of the cats that are at the sanctuary could be adopted out if they receive the proper treatment.

A board member for animal control who was at the sanctuary Wednesday when the animals were taken said she also disagreed with what transpired.