“This is just another example of the amazing generosity in our community and the neighboring areas,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “These volunteers have donated not only resources, but their holiday weekend to help us out. It just doesn’t get any better.”
Hundreds of pounds of dog food, hundreds of towels, ear wash, q-tips, shampoo and conditioner, and lots of other animal care products met members of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Section at approximately 10:00 am today, Sunday, May 30, 2010.
There were over 50 volunteers lined up as AC staff unlocked the door. They dropped off donations, then, proceeded to set up wash stations all over the secured compound. They arrived in cars, vans, SUVs and trucks, and they all had one mission - to help the PCSO clean and feed the 261 dogs seized during the largest seizure in Polk County history.
“We knew the community would respond,” said Sheriff Grady Judd. “We are very grateful for their time, and the resources they brought with them.”
Richard Riga, president of Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida was one of the many volunteers who participated in the initiative. “We are here for the dogs,” said Riga. “We saw the plea for help and knew we could offer our assistance. The dogs needed us.” Riga’s group consisted of residents from Tampa, St Pete, Orlando, Daytona, West Pam Beach, and Lake Mary.
Jack Novoselski, president of the Tampa Bay Beagle Rescue shared Riga’s sentiments, “261 dogs are a lot of dogs and you needed help,” said Novoselski. “We know how overwhelming it gets…we love the dogs, and they don’t have to be beagles for us to be here.” Novoselski had residents from Tampa, Valrico and Oldsmar.
Florida Disaster Animal Response Team volunteer, Susan Voight, said it was all for the love of the dogs. “We had volunteers here yesterday, today, and we’ll be here tomorrow if necessary,” said Voight. The DART group has offered medical triage for the dogs providing two certified veterinary technicians to help assess the dog’s conditions. “We work hard to prepare for animal emergencies such as with hurricanes,” said Voight. “And 261 dogs was an emergency.” Residents from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties were among the DART volunteers.
President and founder of Save Our Homeless Pets, Lisa Moehring, spearheaded the volunteer effort. “I posted the news release on our face book page and asked for help,” said Moehring. “And help we got!” Moehring and her volunteers are Polk County residents.
Save Our Homeless Pets works daily to educate the community. “We are geared toward saving the lives of those animals already born in Polk County, and preventing more from being born in the future through low cost spay and neuter programs,” said Moehring.
The large scale investigation began on Wednesday, May 26, 2010, when PCSO Animal Control received an anonymous tip that Mid-Florida Retriever Rescue, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization located at 15195 Angus Road in Polk City, had dogs that were being neglected. The dogs were malnourished, infested with fleas and parasites, and in very poor health. Many of the dogs will require additional medical care. But today, they all had baths and lots of hugs - thanks to the generosity of central Florida residents.