Hernando County, Florida - The Hernando SPCA is now disputed territory. Two groups of people each claim they're in charge of the facility. On Friday, one group occupied the building and the other group stood watch outside the gates.
"We see it as a hostile takeover; these people have no right to lock us out of here," says Joyce Talley, standing outside. Talley says she is the duly elected Secretary of the SPCA and has helped run the place for the last four months.
She and others came to the shelter on Thursday morning, to find the other group occupying the SPCA building. "The gate has a whole different chain and lock and it's locked on the inside," says Wendy Porter, who says she's the group's Treasurer.
And power struggle aside, the two women say they are now concerned about the welfare of the 175 dogs and cats at the shelter. "They haven't been here for four years; they have no clue of what the animals need, they don't know the schedule of feedings, the medications," notes Talley.
However, the people inside the building say it is their love of animals that led them to recruit allies, hold a meeting this week, elect themselves to the SPCA board, and take charge.
Michele McCabe resigned from the SPCA in 2008, but says she is now once again the group's President. And McCabe says she sought to take over the shelter, because the all volunteer group had been paying staff. "That $58,000 should have been used to take care of these animals and take care of them properly," she said from inside the building.
There have been some heated exchanges between the two groups and Hernando County Deputies have been called to the site several times. However, the Sheriff's Office says this is a civil dispute and it is likely the standoff outside the SPCA will move to a courtroom.