PHOTO COURTESY VOLUSIA COUNTY PROUD TEAM MEMBERS — Members of the Animal Services team hold the Outstanding Agency of the Year plaque the department recently received. From left are Shawn Riggins, animal control officer; Adam Leath, director; Alicia Dease, field supervisor; Laura Stiwinter, clinic supervisor; and Becky Haze, animal control officer.

On March 5, Volusia County Animal Services was named Outstanding Agency of the Year by the Florida Animal Control Association (FACA). The award was presented to Animal Services at FACA’s annual training conference in Orlando.

“I’m extremely proud of our entire team — the hardworking and dedicated professional staff and the volunteers who help support our mission,” said Volusia County Animal Services Director Adam Leath, who was on hand at the conference along with other team members to accept the award. “This is really quite an honor to be recognized by our peers as the best animal services agency in Florida. It really shows that we’re making a difference in the community.”

The award was welcome recognition for a lot of hard work.

The staff at Volusia County Animal Services was quite busy in the past fiscal year, rebranding the agency, expanding clinical services, enhancing training and community outreach and rolling out new services like a foster/adoption program and a countywide pet licensing program.

The number of pets microchipped by Animal Services increased by 74 percent, and the number of sterilizations its clinical staff performed on dogs and cats went up by 61 percent.

Meanwhile, the agency’s field officers responded to 1,719 requests for service, assisted Daytona Beach and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with major dogfighting and animal-cruelty investigations, and filed 24 criminal charges that resulted in eight arrests.

“We are so grateful for the service to the community you are providing. So grateful!” a resident commented on a Facebook post announcing a free community pet microchipping event — one of five that Animal Services hosted in the past fiscal year.

Among the many enhancements over the past year, the animal care clinic purchased digital X-ray equipment to aid in the diagnosis of pet injuries and also expanded operations to include wellness services.

Animal Services also partnered with Volusia County Fire Services and the Beach Safety Division to provide fire stations and beach lifeguard towers with microchip scanners to help reunite lost pets with their owners.

And a foster/adoption program was established to provide temporary care for stray, sick, injured or underage animals until they become healthy enough to be adopted into a loving home. The result has been fewer animals getting impounded.

“For the past 20 years, we have watched an increased level of services and resources offered to the public, while watching the resulting animal impoundment numbers decrease,” states the Animal Services’ award submission. “This is a true testament that our efforts are working and are not in vain.”

Volusia County Animal Services encompasses 16 employees and nine active volunteers, while maintaining two interlocal agreements and 12 mutual aid agreements with area cities.

Animal Services, as stated in the award submission, “is dedicated to ensuring pets live good lives – valued by society, protected by its laws, and free from cruelty, pain, and suffering.”

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