Quincy animal rescue under investigation, former volunteer voices concerns

A former volunteer of Rest Your Paws Pet Refuge originally made allegations in a Facebook post.
Animal rescue in Gadsden County accused of neglect and mistreatment
Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 9:12 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 23, 2023 at 9:14 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - An animal rescue in Gadsden County is under investigation after a former volunteer took to social media, alleging neglect and mistreatment of the rescue’s animals.

Former volunteer Alicia Bopp said she joined the team at Rest Your Paws Pet Refuge, but after six months at the rescue, she left last fall, starting her own rescue Champs Chance days later. Rest Your Paws tells WCTV Bopp was fired, while she maintains she left on her own accord.

Complaints Conveyed

Bopp posted to Facebook on July 18, writing in part “I went in thinking I could make them change and do things the right way for the good of the animals.”

In an interview with WCTV, Bopp alleged that there was often no food or water available for the animals.

“The idea that it was okay to feed by just going along by just throwing handfuls of food into the ‘pissy,’ crappy kennels that weren’t cleaned,” Bopp said.

The Quincy-based rescue was founded in 2018. It is run out of the same building as Little Friends Pet Lodge, a grooming and boarding business, whose owner Angela Geary is also listed as the vice president for Rest Your Paws.

After WCTV was tagged in the comments of Bopp’s post - which generated hundreds of comments and shares - we started making calls and went to Rest Your Paws in person.

Both Geary and the rescue’s founder Tracey Raker were in the building when we arrived. They blamed former volunteers, including Bopp, for alleged cleanliness issues. Both declined to go on camera for an interview.

Bopp’s Facebook post includes over a dozen photos that Geary confirmed were taken in the rescue building. She maintained that any cleanliness issues were the result of volunteers. When WCTV asked to view the current conditions of the kennels, Geary declined to let us behind the counter. She said the kennels were being cleaned when we arrived.

The Investigation

Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Captain Robert Revell recently confirmed his agency, as well as Quincy Police Department, is investigating the situation at Rest Your Paws.

Though the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was initially serving in an “assist role,” an FDLE spokesperson tells WCTV they are no longer involved in the investigation.

Gadsden County Animal Control made three recent trips to Rest Your Paws to offer assistance, according to Gadsden County public information officer Leslie Steele. Those visits came after GCAC said it received complaints that the Leon County Humane Society passed along. Steele said the rescue relinquished five dogs to GCAC on June 23.

WCTV reached out to Rest Your Paws for comment on the visits from Animal Control but we have not heard back. Geary previously said in a statement that Rest Your Paws is closed for intake.

Steele also said GCAC also made a visit to Champs Chance, Bopp’s rescue, in recent weeks. WCTV asked what the outcome of the visit was, and Steele said Animal Control’s staff reported the kennels were in “great condition.”

A Pet Owner’s Frustrations

WCTV spoke with one pet owner, Crystal Weber, who adopted her dog from Rest Your Paws in January. She told WCTV multiple health issues, including tapeworms, hookworms and Giardia were discovered. She also provided documentation for the diagnoses.

“Part of the reason we had to adopt her was because I was like I don’t think she’s gonna make it if we don’t take her home,” Weber said.

Weber said Rest Your Paws waived her adoption fee, but that she spent hundreds of dollars in vet fees to get her dog on the mend. An email provided to WCTV reflects correspondence between Weber and Rest Your Paws. It indicates Weber was told in part that Rest Your Paws relies on volunteers to help with care, and mentions that a “skin issue” was not brought to attention.

We reached out to Rest Your Paws to ask about Weber’s claims but our emails and messages have not been returned.

In the meantime, Weber said she hopes that any other animals will get the care they need before they’re adopted out.

“Animals - we’re put on this earth to help them out. not the other way around. they can’t always take care of themselves and a rescue steps up to do that,” Weber said.

WCTV will continue to provide information on the investigation as it becomes available.

To stay up to date on all the latest news as it develops, follow WCTV on Facebook and Twitter.

Have a news tip or see an error that needs correction? Write us here. Please include the article's headline in your message.

Keep up with all the biggest headlines on the WCTV News app. Click here to download it now.