A small but passionate group of animal lovers gathered Saturday at Veteran’s Memorial Park to remember Zeus, a pit bull mix, who last April was euthanized within 30 minutes of being surrendered to Hernando County Animal Services.
While an extensive audit ultimately found no wrongdoing on the part of Animal Services employees, a host of recommendations were made to improve the department and help prevent animals from needlessly being euthanized in the future.
The county’s willingness to follow through with those recommendations is why the group gathered at the park, as well as to let Zeus know he did not die in vain.
Susanne Whelan, a member of Animal Rescue Friends Network, led the gathering, which included spreading Zeus’ ashes at the park.
“I think this shows different things, such as even the toughest problems can be overcome,” she said, adding the group’s efforts were met with some resistance along the way.
However, she noted some things are certain.
“It’s so much easier to save an animal then to kill it,” Whelan said. “It’s easier to find a home for an animal then to let it linger in a cage.”
She noted that there are so many people who want to adopt animals.
“We’ve got three great places in this county with the SPCA, Humane Society and Hernando County Animal Services, and they all have wonderful animals for adoption,” she said.
Some of Animal Services more noteworthy achievements that Whelan highlighted included the significant reduction in the euthanasia rate, the addition of a new full-time veterinarian and a new surgical suite.
One of those in attendance Saturday was Maria Locicero, along with her Yorkshire terrier, Sheba.
Locicero said she followed Zeus’ tragic story as it played out in the news, and she felt the need to come out and honor him.
“It was very said,” she said. “Being an avid animal lover this really hit home for me.”
Whelan said it is important for people to remember the role Zeus played in bringing about change.
“It says right there on the flag, ‘You are not forgotten,’