In October 2012, Nassau County Manager, Ted Selby, hired Joe Novello to be the Director of Animal Control, after serving as the Interim Director for nearly a year. Joe had worked in the department since 2008, first as an Animal Control Officer and later as the Shelter Manager, so he was familiar with all the functions of the department and knew which areas needed improvement. Since Joe became Director, intake rates and euthanasia rates have steadily decreased, while adoption rates and customer service satisfaction have steadily increased.
In Fiscal Year 2011/2012, animal intakes were at a high of 2,500 per year, euthanasia rates soared at 1,200, and only 435 animals were adopted. In his first year as director in FY 12/13, Joe was able to reduce intakes slightly by obtaining a two-year Petsmart Grant in the amount of $180,000 to spay/neuter 2,800 animals. To decrease euthanasia rates, Joe implemented several new programs and practices to insure that animals coming into the shelter, left the shelter. First he began transporting animals to other large facilities in the State or transferring them to various rescue groups. To increase an animal's chances for adoption, an on-line picture gallery of pets was created and for the first time, the department began participating in several mega-adoption events per year. The department also began capturing feral cats and spaying/neutering them prior to being re-released as part of the new Barn Cat Program or Trap, Neuter, Release Program. Lastly, the shelter began micro-chipping every animal that came into the shelter so if they were picked up again, the owner could be identified quickly and the pet could be returned. Due to all these efforts, euthanasia rates were nearly cut in half to 600.
FY 13/14 was even more impressive. The department received another Petsmart Grant in the amount of $200,000 to spay/neuter an additional 3,600 animals. They also continued participating in large adoption events and transferring animals to rescue groups in an effort to reduce euthanasia rates. Due to all of their efforts, intake rates were at an all-time low of 2,370 and euthanasia rates were down to 189. Additionally, an astounding 956 animals were adopted and another 542 were transferred, bringing Nassau County Animal Control to non-kill status for the first time in history. This is quite remarkable when you look at the figures from the 2009/2010 fiscal year where 2,000 animals were euthanized and only 279 were adopted. All of these improvements have not gone unrecognized as the department won the Florida Animal Control Association's 2014 Outstanding Agency of the Year Award.
Kudos to Joe and his staff for all their hard work! As we enter into FY 14/15, the County is confident that Joe and his dedicated staff can continue to save lives and find families for many more animals. If you haven't visited the Animal Control facility lately, we encourage you to stop by and see all the wonderful changes for yourself. The shelter is located at 86078 License Road in Yulee. Please visit their website to view shelter hours, and to see all the wonderful pets available for adoption.
Nassau County Manager's Office