Lee County policy on lost animals sparks frustration

Published: Updated:
Layla (Photo via Sherri Hart)
Layla (Photo via Sherri Hart)

NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. Sherri Hart wanted to help Layla the pit bull find a home.

But Wednesday, Lee County may put Layla to death, Hart said.

A county ordinance requires anyone who finds a lost pet to turn it over to Domestic Animal Services within 24 hours so owners have a central location to go to.

But Hart, who lives in North Fort Myers, didn’t know about that rule and, based on past experiences, chose not to hand Layla over to them.

“I didn’t want Layla to die so I didn’t take her there,” she said. “That was the only place I didn’t go to.”

The first place she took the 1-year-old dog was Banfield Pet Hospital to see if it had a chip implanted in its body that contained information about its owner.

It didn’t, so Hart reached out to animal rescues and shelters to see if they would take Layla.

She also turned to social media, where a stranger saw her post and called Domestic Animal Services. Representatives from animal services showed up to take Layla, according to Hart.

“They came (and) took her out of our home,” Hart said. “It was hard. I had her almost three weeks now.”

Animal services told Hart they would conduct a series of tests over three days to see if Layla was right for adoption, she said.

After the tests, animal services told Hart that Layla didn’t get along with other animals and that there wasn’t room for her, Hart said.

“I said, ‘Did she attack any animals?’ and they said, ‘No, she just wasn’t social,'” Hart said.

Animal services isn’t over capacity, a county spokeswoman said Tuesday. The spokeswoman also said she was unable to access the records on Layla’s case because of the Fourth of July holiday.

For now, Hart is frustrated — and hopes something changes before Layla is put down.

“For me, it felt like I became her mom, and now it’s like my child (is) about to be euthanized,” Hart said. “We all got attached to her.”

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