NEW PORT RICHEY, Florida -- Local animal advocates, most of them former volunteers at New Port Richey's city run Animal Protection Unit, are coming together to share stories of animal neglect and mismanagement within the all-volunteer agency.
"The director needs to go. It's that simple," said former shelter manager Tonya Vogt. "We all care about the animals. We all want action done."
She and many others describe a shelter with zero accountability, no standard protocols, a shortage of volunteers, and a culture of animal hording where dogs and cats are rarely adopted out.
"I saw a lot of neglect," said former volunteer animal control officer Beth Robbins. "They were suffering and the director was not doing what needed to be done."
Longtime respected animal advocate Marilyn Weaver hosted Monday night's meeting and said, as an outsider, the conditions sound unacceptable.
"I feel so bad because I think about these animals and I know what's happening to them and I feel terrible," said Weaver.
Police Chief Kim Bogart oversees the all-volunteer shelter.
"I'm not going to just react to rumors and what people might write on a Facebook page. People can say whatever they want there. It's sort of like a restroom wall. But if there is accuracy, and we can prove something we've done wrong, I certainly would want to correct that," said Chief Bogart.
He said until he gets more than accusations, he stands behind the the shelter's director, Sharon McReynolds.
"I'm having to be very careful as I walk through this minefield of accusations, because I think emotions run high, as they do with animal lovers. I'm an animal lover myself. But I want to make sure we do the right thing for these animals that are at our shelter."
We were unable to reach McReynolds herself for comment after Monday night's meeting, but we hope to hear more from her in the coming days.
Currently, the shelter is closed since it's experiencing its second Parvo outbreak this year.