HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – It was February 2015. Plant City police, executing a warrant on NW Drane Street, discover three small Yorkies living in terrible conditions.
According to a report by a Hillsborough Pet Resources investigator, the crates that housed the dogs “had urine and feces covering the bottom.”
The crates contained no food or water. The county impounded the dogs. A Pet Resources veterinarian concluded the animals “were suffering from neglect.”
“It was apparent the dogs were going hungry as they attempted to obtain sustenance from their own fecal material,” the veterinarian said.
Perhaps even more outrageous than the conditions in which the dogs were kept is the fact that Pet Resources gave them back to the owner.
Veterinarian Dr. Christy Layton sits on the county’s Animal Advisory Committee. “These three would’ve been easily adopted out and found a good home and unfortunately they’re going back into the exact situation that put them there,” Layton said.
So why did the county give the dogs back to the owner? “It’s our understanding through the report that the owner hadn’t had those dogs for a series of months,” Pet Resources Director Scott Trebatoski said.
The owner hadn’t checked on the dogs in months, and the county sent them back to her. The county didn’t even mandate the dogs be checked by a veterinarian.
“And that’s a problem,” Layton pointed out. “When we’re not caring about where these animals are going, when they leave the shelter, just because it’s improving our numbers, that’s a problem.”
The county is working to improve it’s live release numbers. One way to do that is to reduce the number of animals it takes in. According to figures from its own website, during the first nine months of 2012, prior to Trebatoski’s arrival, the shelter took in 21,369 animals.
During that same period in 2015 it took in 16,862. The county’s figures also show 7,072 strays were impounded in 2012 – compared to 3,727 in 2015. In addition, the number of animals confiscated in 2012 came to 888, versus 251 confiscated in 2015.
“The problem is the county is not looking at the numbers of animals that are not going into the shelter,” Layton said.
Critics contend while the county has increased its live release rate significantly, it has done so at the expense of animals, leaving them on the streets to suffer.
“I would disagree with that,” Trebatoski said. “I think that our operations are better than they were when I took over the place.”
READ MORE ABOUT HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY PET RESOURCES:
- Limited hours, no help with strays from Hillsborough County Pet Resources
- Hillsborough County to vet caring for abandoned pets: ‘Let them go’