On the morning of November 8, police executed a search warrant at the Animal Rescue Konsortium (ARK) shelter in DeLand, FL. Authorities had received complaints about sub-standard conditions at the shelter and the city sent a veterinarian to tour the facility. Approximately 100 cats and 26 dogs were seized and farmed out to several different groups.
DeLand Deputy Police Chief Randy Henderson said the city has a no kill philosophy and saves 99.4% of its pets. As such, he said he personally made phone calls to various no kill rescue groups and shelters in order to secure temporary housing for the seized pets from ARK. Some advocates remain concerned:
No-kill advocates contacted The Beacon and said some of the rescued animals were taken to shelters in Flagler and Seminole counties that don’t have no-kill policies.
“That is true,” Henderson said. “But nothing can happen to these animals until court.”
Nothing can happen to the seized animals perhaps, unless they get sick or exhibit behavior that someone at a pet killing facility deems unacceptable. Then I imagine things could quickly change. And what about the pets displaced by the ARK animals at these facilities? They are presumably being killed.
The alleged “deplorable conditions” at ARK remain unclear and circumstances seem a bit dodgy:
Shelter supporters have said the complaints were lodged frivolously by a rival animal-rescue group, and also said police and firefighters who entered the shelter got a skewed impression of conditions, because the morning clean-up had not yet been done by ARK volunteers.
“This is an attempt by several people in this area to shut us down. They want to prevent us from working with Second Chance Animal Shelter to maintain the city’s status as no-kill,” [Maggi] Hall [ARK president] said.
Karen Clark, director of another animal-welfare group, We Help Animals, was on the scene as police officers worked inside ARK. Clark said she was one of the people who filed written complaints about the shelter.
Clark said she has never been inside the ARK facility, but complained about overcrowding, sick animals, sick animals being adopted out, improper nutrition, and the failure to give adopters proper paperwork for their dogs.
A hearing is scheduled for November 19 to determine what will happen to the seized pets. ARK’s attorney “asked that DeLand officials provide him with all written complaints filed with the city; all affidavits given or used in support of the search warrant and city code enforcement records about ARK and its property.” This certainly sounds like a reasonable request.
Deputy Chief Henderson “said the reports are still being written and that case specifics will not be released until after the outcome of the hearing or pending the need for further investigation.”
WESH has video and a number of photos from the seizure posted on its website. The animals depicted appear to be healthy and socialized. The worst thing the photographer saw was apparently this dog’s elbow callus, on which he/she zoomed in to give viewers a better look:
No charges have been filed. I will post an update on the case after the hearing or whenever developments warrant.
(Thank you Clarice for sending me links on this story.)