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Putnam County animal shelter struggling to take care of abandoned animals

As soon as one animal finds a forever home, the vacancy is immediately replaced, employees explain.

PALATKA, Fla. — The Putnam County Animal Shelter can not welcome any more animals. 

As soon as one animal finds a forever home, the vacancy is immediately replaced. Volunteers and employees are struggling to take care of abandoned animals and the shelter in Palatka is over-capacity.

They expressed to First Coast News how they've been waiting for years. Diane Sykes is a faithful volunteer with South Putnam Animal Network. To Sykes, the shelter on 174 County Landfill Road is outdated. 

"You have to drive down a dirt road, past the sanitation trucks just to get to the shelter," Sykes explained. 

She's not the only one who feels as if the shelter is past due for an upgrade. Recently, at least a dozen letters were sent to county leaders and people are begging them to do something about the shelter. 

They want them to address the influx of stranded and abandoned animals. The shelter in Palatka is a no-kill shelter. Basically, the cats and dogs are kept there until someone takes them home. 

"Please, please hurry it up on this animal shelter," Sykes said. "We've been waiting for this for years. The animals have been waiting for years. The employees have been waiting for years." 

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Terry Suggs, Putnam County Administrator, said the county commissioners set aside more than $700,000 for a new shelter. He sent First Coast News this statement. 

"On behalf of Chairman Bill Pickens we are aware of the complaints, the Board of County Commissioners has set aside $750,000 for the construction of a new Animal Shelter.  The project has been through a site selection committee which recommended a new site conveniently located near the Putnam County Jail where a partnership utilizing inmates can be implemented to help care for the animals. The geo-technical reports have been obtained, and a conceptual design of the facility has been completed and approved by the Board of County Commissioners. The current year budget for animal control is $677,814."

However, Commissioner Jeff Rawls pointed out the budget for animal control for the fiscal year of 2023 is $557,391. Plus, Rawls said commissioners already voted on the budget and next fiscal year starts October 1, 2022. 

To Rawls, the $677,814 budget is old. It should be known, Suggs did not mention a construction start-date. Volunteers like Sykes, hope a new facility will give shelters in Putnam County some breathing room to operate. 

"If we have a better, cleaner, more updated shelter - we'd also have more programs," Sykes added. 

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