Operation SOS proposes fix for Savannah Road animal shelter
Fort Pierce, Fl (treasurecoast.com)-The city soon could hand over management of the Savannah Road animal shelter, that it jointly runs with the county, to an outside animal-services operator.
The city began looking for a new animal-shelter operator more than a year ago after issues arose regarding animal welfare and lack of oversight.
Fort Pierce has received an unsolicited operating proposal from Sterilization Outreach Services Inc., also known as Operation SOS. City commissioners Jan. 4 asked staff to draft a contract with the nonprofit.
“If we’re going to get this done, we need to start moving quick, because I think that SOS wants to jump in there and get going,” said City Manager Nick Mims.
While the building itself, at 100 Savannah Road, is owned solely by the city, is it being run in partnership with St. Lucie County. In June, the two governments agreed to a 30-year partnership to jointly support and run the shelter — an agreement that previously included Port St. Lucie before it pulled out to reestablish ties with the Humane Society of St. Lucie County.
The SOS proposal — which includes a five-year-lease agreement and a 3-year-animal-service contract with both the city and county — would begin Feb. 1, a four-phase approach that would take SOS two years to establish Savannah Road animal shelter as fully operational. Under the proposal, the city could pay $11,250 per month and the county $20,000.
SOS plans to invest $20,000 to get the shelter up and running before creating a nonprofit entity — referred to as the Sunrise Humane Society — that would have its own board of directors, finances, permits and insurance, separate from SOS’ spay-and-neuter services.
If the proposal is approved, it would be the Hobe Sound nonprofit’s first time operating a shelter. Its normal services consist of spaying and neutering animals in a mobile surgery van.
SOS President Scott Coccoli said he is confident the nonprofit can run a fully operational animal shelter because SOS’ veterinarian has animal shelter experience, and the organization already has a relationships with the city and county through its trap-neuter-vaccinate-return services.
Sunrise Humane Society would hope to set-up its own veterinary clinic, which, Coccoli said, eventually could be self-supporting.