Thursday, April 30, 2009

County may shut down High Springs cat shelter

By, TRACEY MCMANUS, Alachua County Today

HIGH SPRINGS, FL – The chorus of purring cats has blended with the routine sounds of High Springs for years, but their song might not be heard much longer.

Haven Acres Pet Sanctuary houses nearly 300 cats on an eight-acre island of county-zoned land surrounded on all sides by High Springs. Steve and Pennie Lefkowitz have been running the pet rescue since 2003 but may no longer be able to operate because of the concerns and complaints of their neighbors.

After the Alachua County Planning Commission’s April 15 vote to deny a permit for the Lefkowitzes to continue operating, the couple will now face the Alachua County Commission in May to hear if they have to close the shelter and disband the cats.

However, the well-being of High Springs residents is not the only matter the County Commission will consider in May. Some say the cat sanctuary is not a shelter but a case of animal hoarding, which ends up putting the throng of animals in an environment of disease, filth and malnutrition.

To Steve Lefkowitz, his shelter saves hundreds of homeless animals from being euthanized every year while helping the community at the same time.

“We arrange for spay and neuter services to people at low cost or no cost, we advise and assist with health and nutrition, and we have even provided food at no cost to those in financial hardship,” Lefkowitz said. “We feel we have provided very valuable services.” ..”  More

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