Putnam animal control calls increase, officers work to keep up

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Neighbors in Putnam County claim a vicious dog attack in Hawthorne could’ve been prevented by animal control.

“They didn’t attack her. They were eating her,” said Larry Edwards.

Two dogs escaped their enclosure in Hawthorne and pinned down an 86-year-old veteran and ripped her ear off. Family said Gertrude Bishop’s leg had to be amputated as a result. She’s now out of intensive care, but still has a long road to recovery family members said.

Related Read: Putnam County dog attack leaves 86-year-old veteran hospitalized – Action News Jax


Edwards told Action News Jax Robert Grant it could’ve been avoided because he claimed animal control had been called out several times before because of the dogs and at one point they were taken away and then returned to the owner.

According to data given to Action News Jax by the county, there were 1,655 calls to animal control in 2022 and 890 so far in 2023. That’s already on pace to surpass last year’s number and we’re not halfway through the year yet.

Palatka made up most of the calls with 25% in 2022 and 34% so far in 2023. Interlachen made up the second most calls, where a mail carrier was killed in a dog attack last August.

Related Read: PCSO: No charges in case of mail carrier mauled by 5 dogs – Action News Jax

Hawthorne came in at #5 with 7% of the calls this year, which is where Bishop was attacked in May.

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“Our Geography is so huge, our manpower is so small,” said Commissioner Paul Adamczyk during a March commission meeting.

He suggested continuing the county’s spay and neuter program, improving licensing of pets and enforcing them, and building smaller scale satellite offices in West and South Putnam.

Action News Jax reached out to each county commissioner to see if any action has been taken. So far, only two responded and referred us to the county administrator who did not respond to our questions as of the time this article was published.

The county said human resources does not have a document showing the total number of positions allotted within animal control or how many of those positions are vacant.

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