The threat of police involvement is looming over a Broward County Animal Shelter, as images, videos and volunteer testimony have revealed the facility's deplorable conditions.
Images sent to NBC 6 show a pit bull in one of the kennels at Broward Animal Care and Adoption facility. Blood is splattered against the wall. In the video, the pit bull named Lance is seen barking at a volunteer.
The volunteer is clearly upset.
The shelter’s director said Lance had been banging his tail on the wall to the point it started bleeding, and there was no mistreatment by the staff.
But, County Commissioner Mark Bogen said the clock is ticking for the facility to straighten up, or police could get involved.
In October, Bogen sent in an outside expert for a surprise inspection. He said the conditions were horrible in some rooms. Bogen has given the shelter’s director until Friday, or else.
"If there’s dirt and abuse, whatever it is, there are criminal statutes on abuse of animals,” Bogen said.
The woman who runs the facility said that they are overall doing a good job. 90 percent of the dogs and cats aren’t put to sleep.
But critics say there are big problems. And the ultimate irony is police could be contacted to look into the very people hired by the county to protect the animals.
“Either the staff will take care of these problems or it's going to get elevated,” Bogen said.
“I would describe it as it needs change immediately," Animal advocate Debbie Seritello said.
Seritello claims to have volunteered at the facility in 2019 until she was fired for blowing the whistle about conditions.
Debbie and other animal advocates say they are all behind Bogen’s move.
“We’ve been waiting for that," Seritello said. "They need qualified people in there to train these dogs, walk these dogs, and do what’s supposed to be done."
In an email, Broward's Director of Environmental Protection, Henry Sinezek, said he is unaware of any laws being broken. Sinezek is the one ultimately responsible for running the shelter.
"Many claims we have received in the past have been found to be unsubstantiated. However, we take and will continue to take any such claims very seriously, and addressing them are prioritized,” the email reads.
When it comes to Lance, the county said they sent him to an outside trainer. They said things are going well with him, and they hope he gets a home soon.
Those in charge of the shelter said they have good things on the horizon like a new vet clinic to help with preventative care.
As far as police coming to the shelter, the director said they’ve had to call authorities because of death threats being made on social media.
BSO deputies have been here to protect them.
So, if Bogen does call them, they’ll be near by.