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To respectfully step down as President of Furry Friends Adoption & Clinic and reinstate Kay-Lynette Roca as Director

This petition had 534 supporters

Kay-Lynette Roca is a native of Palm Beach County and a graduate of Florida State University. Upon graduating college in 1983 and completing her internship with the Humane Society of the United States, Kay-Lynette returned to her native Palm Beach County.

Kay-Lynette spent the next two years working for the Martin County Humane Society as their Education/Community Relations Director. In 1985, she left the Martin County Humane Society to return home to found Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary & Hospital.

7-10 million animals a year are needlessly killed in our nation's shelters. Through her dedication and work, Kay Lynette Roca established Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary & Hospital as the second charitable low-cost spay/neuter hospital in the state of Florida. Through Kay-Lynette’s leadership, Safe Harbor sterilized over 75,000 animals over 24 years, thus preventing hundreds of thousands of unwanted puppies and kittens from being born and thousands more from being needlessly destroyed.

Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary & Hospital offered low-cost spay / neuter services and medical assistance to everyone and free services for pet owners who were on disability, social security or who were experiencing financial hardships. Kay-Lynette never turned away an animal in need of medical care away due to their owner’s inability to pay.

A few years after establishing the charitable hospital, Roca opened one of the only true no-kill shelters in South Florida. The shelter reserved its space for animals that had been abused, neglected, injured and abandoned. No breed was ever discriminated against; any animal in need was given shelter at Safe Harbor.  Roca's policy was that no cage would ever be vacated by routine euthanasia. Animals became available only through adoption.

To keep the doors open, Roca not only ran Safe Harbor's day-to-day operations, she also worked tirelessly to raise $3 million a year through her fund-raising events and donations from the community.

On Wednesday, January 16, 2013 all of her dedication and hard work were stolen from her in a ruthless takeover by three new members of Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary & Hospital’s board of directors.

For over 28 years, Safe Harbor served as a beacon of hope, brightly illuminating the path for all animals in need of shelter from life's storm.  The following timeline illustrates the abuse that Roca and her family has had to endure at the behest of three PBSO employees.

January 16, 2013- Tragically on Wednesday, January 16, 2013, that light was snuffed out forever. Roca's 28 years of hard work and dedication were stolen from her in a ruthless takeover by three newly appointed members of the Safe Harbor board of directors and a co-worker. Carol Verdigi, Cassie Kovaks and Diana Nelson were all employees of the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO).  Patty Palmer was a Safe Harbor co-worker and the lynchpin that brought these women together and into Safe Harbor. Carol Verdigi, abusing her PBSO powers, threatened to have Roca arrested if she did not leave Safe Harbor premises immediately, Verdigi issued a no-trespass warrant, forcing Roca to leave 28 years of her life behind.

Roca is quoted as saying her world stopped that night and for a while, it felt as though her heart would literally stop beating.  Life as she knew it would never be the same. Roca found herself struggling to see through a fog of helplessness despair, questioning her faith in humanity.

Thirty-three years of blood, sweat and tears were gone in the blink of an eye by wolves disguised in sheep's clothing.  Roca’s only sin was trusting people whom she believed shared her vision and her dreams for Safe Harbor.  No one saw it coming nor did they have any idea just how badly they had been taken advantage of until long after the damage was done.  These manipulative personalities kept their aggressive agendas cloaked until the day of the attack.

Jan. 17, 2013 - Uniformed Palm Beach County Sheriffs were brought in on Jupiter Police Department’s jurisdiction by Carol Verdigi, hired to stand guard at Safe Harbor for the next several days. On Thursday, the first wave of "innocent bystanders," (long time employees) were fired and immediately replaced mainly by members of Patty's family, none of whom had experience or education in animal welfare, shelter or hospital management. Past employees who had been fired by Roca had been re-hired to build an adversarial front. Within two weeks, over 14 people had been ruthlessly fired and more employees would continue to be fired in the ensuing weeks.

On January 18th - Roca and several other employees who had been fired arrived at the Safe Harbor office to pick up their checks and personal belongings as instructed. Upon arriving at Safe Harbor, Roca noticed Patty Palmer and two other employees standing out in front of Roca's recently vacated office, chatting.   Roca and the other fired employees entered the office and were greeted by Allison Most who was expecting their arrival.  The only other people in the office were an IT employee and Rhonda Gallon, Patty Palmer's best friend. Within minutes, Officers from the Jupiter Police Department charged into the office, stating they had just received a 911 call from a Patricia Palmer claiming that Roca had violated a no-trespass warrant and was stealing all of the computers from Safe Harbor’s administration.  Twice within the same week, Roca who NEVER had negative contact with the police, had been threatened with arrest until Allison Most explained to the Jupiter Police Officers that no one was stealing from the office, and that she, Allison Most, had been expecting them [Roca and other employees]. After the Jupiter Police Officers heard the full story from Allison Most, the officers cooled down and kindly assisted the fired women by carrying their personal items to their cars.

The following week, Safe Harbor’s board of directors announced that Carol Verdigi, a full-time PBSO employee earning $110,000 plus perks, had taken over Roca's position and was being paid $125,000 as the President of Safe Harbor and had taken Roca's new truck as her own. It is alleged that Patty Palmer was promoted to Executive Director and was also raised to $125,000 plus perks. Family members of Patty Palmer were being paid  incredulous starting pay rates as high as $28.00 an hour for the same positions others employees in similar positions were earning only $8.00 - $10.00 an hour.

February 2013 - The Palm Beach Post story ran several weeks later, giving a pretty clear account of the individuals involved in the takeover. Two days later, at 9:00 a.m. on February 20th, on Roca's daughter's 22nd birthday, with sirens screaming, Roca's home was raided by the Jupiter and Tequesta police departments. With over 14 police cruisers surrounding her home, police armed with assault rifles, every media outlet in Palm Beach County in position, crime-scene tape wrapped around her home, road blocks not allowing any one into the area and with her neighbors watching the fiasco, Roca and her daughter were ordered by police over a PA system to come out of their home with their hands in the air, then they were patted down and searched for all the world to see. Roca was told by police that they had a search warrant and that she was not under arrest and was free to leave. She refused to leave her home, out of fear that someone would shoot one of her dogs, so she sat in pain, suffering from MS, on her back porch with her dogs for 5 hours while officers searched and destroyed her home. Some of the officers, aquainted with Roca from past interactions with her at Safe Harbor, apologized to her for their presence at her home.

Police Officers took every electronic device the Roca and her children owned, including computers, cell phones, iPads, laptops etc, as well as dozens of boxes of unknown items, because police did not clearly itemize their inventory. The Roca's still have not received back all of their belongings after 16 months.

To this day, many in the legal field do not understand why Roca's affidavit for probable cause was sealed, but it would be another 8 months before they were able to get the affidavit unsealed.

Roca describes that day as feeling as if she had been emotionally and mentally "raped." At the age of 53, had she ever had a run-in with the law or arrested - nothing.  Watching the events unfold by the media, the excessive response by law enforcement would have been more appropriate had they been busting a meth lab or responding to a report of dead bodies stacked in an attic.  The women involved made certain Roca would never get a chance to return to Safe Harbor, by destroying her credibility and her good standing in the community.

Between February and March of 2013, Roca began to get calls daily from concerned employees and volunteers about the neglect and abuse that was taking place at Safe Harbor. Roca did try to get someone to investigate, but the parties Roca reported the abuse to were told by Safe Harbor were just "sour grapes" on Roca's behalf over being terminated.  Roca says that she cannot count the nights she cried herself to sleep, worrying about the fate of the animals and being helpless for the first time in her career to save them.  The worst stories were coming from the ranch, alleging Patty Palmer's sons, nephew and their friends were the ones doing the abusing. There were also reports of drinking, pot smoking and sex between the staff out at the ranch. There were dozens of allegations that were reported, resulting in the death of a horse, a pig, two dogs – Spanky and Igor and several cats, all reportedly due to an abusive, apathetic staff and gross negligence. Numerous other dogs were reported to have been choked into submission, kicked and punched in the face, several had to be revived with CPR. This is not hearsay, this is fact and there are eye-witnesses to back it up.

April 2013 - the media showed up at Roca's door again, this time with allegations from the leadership of Safe Harbor (Patty Palmer) claiming that Roca lied to the public by sending animals down to Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control after dark to be killed. Diane Suave, the director for Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control, on camera, refuted these allegations and stated that in fact, Roca had done just the opposite by rescuing animals that were scheduled to be killed at Animal Care and Control throughout the years.

Herbert Baum, you know in your heart Kay-Lynette Roca was the person behind the success of Safe Harbor Animal Sanctuary & Hospital, and she is the only person deserving of running the facility.   Regardless of what was thrown her way, Kay-Lynette Roca handled herself with honor and integrity and stayed – when there was a time you could not say the same thing.

If you truly love animals as you claim, you will do the right thing and place Kay-Lynette Roca back where she belongs – at the helm of the shelter, and you will step down for remaining quiet while a good woman, whose heart is clearly with the animals she loves, was having her life destroyed by the organization you now lead. 

Today: Carol is counting on you

Carol Gload needs your help with “Herbert M. Baum: To respectfully step down as President of Furry Friends Adoption & Clinic and reinstate Kay-Lynette Roca as Director”. Join Carol and 533 supporters today.