The caretaker of a Collier County cat shelter says panthers have been getting into the shelter's outdoor enclosure, killing the cats in her care - and wants the shelter's owner to do something about it.
"The second week of January, the panthers started jumping over the fence," said Tracy Schneider, the caretaker of the shelter on 2nd Street Northeast in Golden Gate Estates. "The first death was like four or five cats in one day."
She claims that the shelter's owner, Tamera Sparkman, isn't doing enough to keep the panthers out.
"She put the orange safety fencing that raised the fence about four feet," Schneider said. "And it was working, it was keeping (the panthers) out. But unfortunately it was only up for about 6 or 7 weeks before Hurricane Irma came (and knocked it down.)"
Schneider stays on the property to tend to the cats, but Tamera Sparkman - who also runs the Animal Aid, Inc. adoption center and clinic in Broward County - claims that Schneider's caretaking is the problem.
Fox 4 recorded several raccoons in the enclosure, eating the cats' food.
"Because of the poor level of care the cats were receiving, we've been trying to evict Tracy," Sparkman said. "So this is a personal vendetta."
Sparkman said she's already relocated a few dozen cats to Broward County for safekeeping. But several more remain at the property in Golden Gate Estates, which is known for panther sightings.
"The only option we have at this point is to bring the cats over here, and build a temporary enclosure until she is gone," Sparkman said.
Scheider said that she already has another job, and wants to see the cats that are still at the Golden Gate Estates shelter go to another rescue shelter, or to homes.
Sparkman plans to trap the remaining cats in early March and take them to Broward County.