SUN PHOTO/TOM VAUGHT
Supporters of a no-kill policy for animals taken
into Manatee County's Animal Services custody
wear green and wave at traffic as they gather
across the street from the county administration
building before a county commission
meeting last week.
BRADENTON – Bathed in a sea of green shirts and blouses, some 350 animal lovers gathered in front of the old county courthouse Thursday evening to protest their county commissioners, who appeared to be ready to cut pet adoptions from the Manatee County Animal Services budget.
Former Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore, who is now the chair of the commission, helped protestors organize and visited with them before the meeting. She applauded with the crowd when Humane Society of Manatee County Executive Director Denise Deisler announced they had received more than 1,000 letters and e-mails in support of the adoption services.
Many of the protestors carried signs. Wendy Scott's said "Saving $$ Shouldn't Cost Lives!!" Aly Francey, who charmed commissioners when she spoke at the work session later, carried one that said, "Keep adoption an option."
When the protestors got to the county commission, they filled the chambers and many signed up to speak. Francey, who volunteers for animal organizations, said she would hate to see all the work she had done "be wrecked."
Laurie Crawford, who has a long pro-animal history, said keeping the adoption services going would help in making the county a no-kill one for animals.
After the protestors made their point, Commissioner Joe McClash, who flagged the animal service budget for comment originally, joked about the turnout, which is usually dismal for a work session.
"All we needed was a controversy to get a crowd," he said.
McClash said he is proud of the county's new downtown adoption center, which he said is more visible than the county's main adoption center in Palmetto. He said he did not intend to kill the pet adoption portion of animal services when he flagged that part of the budget. He said he was looking into using pet stores to adopt the animals that the county takes in. Commissioner Donna Hayes, who also flagged that portion of the budget, said she did so to discuss outsourcing the adoption services as well. She and McClash agreed to "deflag" the item.
Whitmore said she would bring forward a "no-kill" suggestion after the commission settles on a budget and she told The Sun she was glad to see the controversy end as it did.
"The commissioners heard what the people were saying and acted," she said. "Now we have to work to make 'no-kill' a reality."