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Post-Traumas, Flagler Humane Society Tries Make-Over

| April 5, 2012

Billy, a black Labrador, waits for a home behind the reception desk at the Flagler Humane Society. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive) (© FlaglerLive)

As the Flagler Humane Society goes into its second month without a paid director, board president Diane Voigt continues, with other board members, to keep the shelter up and running, working 10-hour days to improve services. “We have totally changed our adoption process,” Voigt said. “People can now come in and often take the animal home with them the same day, that’s been a big change.”

And a big plus. “We have not had to put down any animals for lack of space or time since February 2,” she said. “That’s what I am most proud of.”

Nicole Brose, a relatively new member to the board of directors, is enthusiastic about the changes and new community partnerships. “We had a team from Lowes paint the lobby. They had a painting party, and Sherwin Williams donated the paint,” Brose said.”Lowes is stepping up and wants to be a community partner.”

The shelter is reaching out to other shelters and rescues and working with Canine Warriors, an organization that pairs up veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder with dogs. The organization took four dogs last week.

It is not unusual for Diane Voigt, president of the Flagler Humane Society Board of Directors, to put 10-hour days in as interim director. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Voigt said the shelter has already begun working with rescue groups and she hopes to work with the Halifax Humane Society in Volusia County. “I would like us to partner with Halifax and maybe rent a store in the Volusia Mall and have a week long adopt-a-thon,” she says.

The Humane Society is going through a little post-traumatic stress of its own. In 2009 Joy Gournic, a Palm Coast resident, had formalized a bequest that would have yielded half a million dollars to the society upon her death. In January, the departure of several dedicated volunteers at the shelter and mistreatment of animals, Gournic cancelled the bequest.

“I feel that I can no longer support an organization that I believe is more concerned with their own personal agendas and egos and less concerned with the safety, health and placement of animals who are in their care and the loyal and dedicated volunteers who care for these animals,” she told the Flagler County Commission. Two weeks later, Jeff Hale, the society’s executive director of the since July 2010, was fired. (He’d resigned his previous post in a Texas animal service agency after getting a drunk-driving citation, though he wasn’t on the clock at the time.)

Tom Gemmola, another supervisor at the shelter, was fired last year when shelter officials discovered he had no valid driver’s license. The shelter also lost its veterinarian, Christine Glenn, who left in early February to move to Tampa. So another important partnership for the society is with the Flagler Veterinary Association. The plan is to work with veterinarians in the association to help with the spaying and neutering of the animals, eliminating the need for the shelter to have its own staff veterinarian.

Voigt says their extended outreach efforts have resulted in interest in the animals from around the state.

“We are still animal control and we are still an open shelter,” Voigt said. “No kill shelters can pick and choose the animals they accept, the ones they know they can adopt out.”

The shelter is one of 107 animal groups selected to participate in the 2012 ASPCA Rachel Ray Challenge. According to the ASPCA website, “The$100K Challenge is a national competition to inspire animal shelters—and those who support them—to go above and beyond to increase pet adoption, reunite lost pets with their families and save more animals’ lives.”

Voting is taking place online from April 5 to April 16. You can do your part: If the voting turnout is high the Flagler shelter could receive between $5,000 and $125,000. Voigt hopes that the community will log on and vote to help the Human Society. “It would enable us to do the things we are unable to do now,” she said. Her “things” ranged from adding special events, increasing staff and maybe even redesigning the shelter.

An active search is underway for a new director but Voigt expects to remain involved. “My comfortable retirement life is gone forever but with a new director I won’t be here 10 hours a day,” she says.

Brose is looking forward to what she calls the “ahh ha” moment, “when,” she says, “the entire community supports and appreciates the need for the shelter, embraces the humane society and is proud of our existence.”

“We are trying to get back the community support we once had, and the volunteers,” Voigt said.

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13 Responses for “Post-Traumas, Flagler Humane Society Tries Make-Over”

  1. B. Claire says:


    RE: Voting is taking place online from April 5 to April 16. You can do your part:

    Technical website “VOTE” button GLITCH…apparently with the ASPCA.

    Flagler County Humane Society says…not yet working for ALL agencies competing for the $100, 000. So, once working, all will be on a level playing field.

    Asks our indulgence as they repair this glitch.

    Thank you….check back…vote often.

    • B. Claire says:

      [have any problems..please post…thnx!!]

      Vote Confirmed!

      You can vote once a day through April 16.

      See the results so far.

      VOTE–VOTE–VOTE–VOTE– Forward link to ALL your animal-loving friends. Humane Society of Flagler & our animals NEED this $$ badly ! !
      Thank you.

  2. Well... says:

    I plan on voting every day! These animals deserve the win – heck it is a shame ALL of the nominated societies cannot win. A BIG thank you also goes to Diane Voigt for doing everything she can for these beautiful souls. I cherish my animals and wish everyone did the same, however, a little love and compassion does go a long way, so please vote for them and go to the Flagler Humane Society’s website and view their wish list and donate. Whenever I go to Petsmart and they are there, I buy a bag of dog food and donate it. It is not much but any little bit helps.

  3. Susan Jones says:

    I sure hope that things are better there. I volunteered there for one year, in 2009, and what a disaster it was there!

    • Diane Voigt says:

      Come back and see the changes at the Flagler Humane Society! Many of our old volunteers who left because they were discouraged by what was going on have come back. But, we can’t ever have too many volunteers. Dogs need walking, kennels need cleaning, cats need brushing and cuddling, laundry needs to be done, the list goes on and on. There are many things you can do at the Shelter. There are jobs for those who want to interact with the animals and those who do not. There are jobs to be done onsite and from home. We need volunteers to help out at the Thrift Store and helping with adoption and fund raising events. We invite everyone to come by the Shelter, maybe look for a new furry addition to your household, volunteer for an hour or for several days a week, just check out our new Adoption Center. We want the Flagler Humane Society to be a facility in which the entire community can take pride and we’re working hard to make that happen.

  4. B. Claire says:

    Hey Flagler County…

    P L E A S E GO TO

    AND VOTE for desperately needed funds to save Flagler dogs & cats lives…in the 2012 ASPCA Rachel Ray Challenge.

    Need to do MUCH BETTER……..Flagler Humane Society – Palm Coast, FL. 361 VOTES SO FAR

    —FlaglerLive, any chance to keep this article in a prominant place thru April 16 on the home page to help increase our chances? Thank you so much for considering this request.

  5. OldCdog says:

    I voted—-VOTE every day and let’s get the numbers up!

    God Bless

  6. Nicole Brose says:

    FHS is working hard to make changes the entire community can be proud of! We are always full with amazing animals, all shapes and sizes, so please if interested in adopting a great new pet, stop by, visit our website or We need the entire community support! We also need foster dog/cat families so animals do not have to stay in the kennel environment for long. Also a huge thank you to the veterinarian community for helping us thru this transition with spay/neuter surgery support, medical emergencies, etc. especially Shelton Veterinarian and Flagler Animal Hospital!

    VOTE VOTE VOTE! We need you!

  7. Nicole Brose says:

    Oh Billy from this article is amazing and needs a home…he will be at First Friday tonight in Flagler Beach! Approximately 3 years old, well mannered, house broken.

  8. B. Claire says:

    OK…today we are…

    34th out of 104 other agencies Flagler Humane Society – Palm Coast, FL. WE HAVE 912 VOTES

    P L E A S E GO TO

    PLEASE V O T E !

  9. B. Claire says:

    Happy Easter… here’s where we stand today…

    32nd out of 104 — Flagler Humane Society – Palm Coast, FL. 1,432

    Vote today…DO IT FOR THE EASTER BUNNY :)

  10. B. Claire says:

    Up to…..

    30th Flagler Humane Society – Palm Coast, FL. 1,944 VOTES


  11. B. Claire says:

    today….31st Flagler Humane Society – Palm Coast, FL. 3,023

    V O T E…IT MEANS $$$$ Thanks!

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