By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
DELAND -- Police removed the dogs and cats and sent them to other shelters, but the Animal Rescue Konsortium is still trying to find them homes.
"We're just going on as usual," founder and president Maggi Hall said in an interview.
ARK recently announced that it will reimburse people who adopt dogs removed from its 441 S. Woodland Blvd. office from shelters that accepted them. The organization reports that 11 of its rescued dogs are at the Flagler Humane Society, 1 Shelter Dr., Palm Coast, and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Central Florida's Sanford shelter, 2800 County Home Rd.
The animal-rescue organization sent an e-mail announcing it would reimburse adopters $50 toward the shelters' adoption fees and give the animals a year of free medical care. The offer is good from Dec. 5 to 15. ARK requests would-be adopters to call Ms. Hall ahead of time at (386) 717-9991.
In November, the DeLand Police Department opened an investigation into conditions at ARK's office. In press releases, police said they found more than 130 animals living in the two-story home turned animal shelter. In the interview, Ms. Hall said there were no more than 125. Whatever the case, police removed animals and started legal actions. Sgt. Chris Estes, public information officer, said Deputy Chief Randall Henderson was unavailable for comment. He declined to comment further.
"There's open investigation portions that are still going on," Sgt. Estes said in a phone message.
Flagler Humane Society board member Robin Goss said that shelter did take some of ARK's animals.
"I can verify we have some of their animals," she said. "I believe it's around six dogs they took that night."
Flagler declined to take any of the cats.
"We have an overabundance of cats right now," Ms. Goss said. "We have a lot of kittens seeking homes."
So many cats and kittens that the shelter is running a promotion through December -- cat adopters may decide the fees they'll pay. The facility has 229 cats and 117 dogs.
Ms. Goss said Flagler is pleased with ARK's reimbursement offer.
"We are thrilled," she said. "They do need some medical help."
Ms. Hall said ARK plans to stay open and expand its rescue and adoption operations over time.
"We're open (at the DeLand office) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Saturday," she said.
The animal-rescue organization has, according to Ms. Hall, about 70 foster homes with animals awaiting adoption.
"We cannot keep an animal on site, but we have more than 100 animals in foster homes," she said.
Ms. Hall said ARK will have animals temporarily at the office on Saturdays for would-be adopters to meet. Additionally, people may view adoptable animals at ARKsaves.com.
The organization was recently offered three acres near Osteen. Ms. Hall said it's considering the offer. It would need to build facilities to house animals if it takes the land.
In the meantime, Ms. Hall said ARK is continuing to accept donations, volunteers, and, of course, animal foster-home applications.
"The more fosters we have, the more lives we can save," she said. "We have a foster application form on our web site."
The organization started in 2007.
"As the economy started to tank, and people were abandoning animals at my daughter's office, we said, 'We've got to do something,'" Ms. Hall said.
Her daughter, Erin Holder, owns FloridaWild Veterinary Hospital at 115 E. Euclid Ave.
This year, ARK has placed 435 animals -- dogs, cats, rabbits and ferrets -- into adoptive homes. Adoption fees range from nothing to $300, depending on several factors.