Dangerous gas sickens Hillsborough County workers; animals at shelter exposed

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Dogs hidden by Hillsborough County for their own protection, in a facility known as the cave, were exposed to dangerous chemical fumes.

The fumes made several Pet Resources Center workers sick. The county maintains none of the animals were harmed.

The cave’s location is kept secret. Animals that are evidence in abuse and neglect investigations are housed there instead of at the Pet Resources facility on Faulkenburg Road.

In late April something happened at the cave. 8 On Your Side learned several employees became ill. PRC director Scott Trebatoski wouldn’t explain.

“That, I can’t really comment on. That’s a workers’ comp/HR issue. You need to pick that up with them because there’s medical issues and things I’m not comfortable talking about that,” Trebatoski said.

We’ve confirmed a Pet Resources employee improperly mixed two cleaning agents, creating a gas that is noxious in the least and dangerous at the worst. The products used are Accel and WYSIWASH, 8 On Your Side confirmed.

Ken Hungerford, a co-founder of WYSIWASH, told News Channel 8 by phone the two cleaners should never be mixed. That can cause extreme irritation, Hungerford said. The fumes will have the same affect on animals as on humans.

The county’s human resources department confirmed four employees suffered medical issues after being exposed to the fumes. None of the victims missed work.

News Channel 8 asked about the animals. “We have a vet tech that’s out there every day now, monitoring the health of the animals,” Trebatoski added.

“The dogs kept offsite have been cared for in the same manner as all of the pets at the main shelter, including utilizing the same cleaning protocols. There currently is a veterinary technician onsite every day to monitor the health of the dogs and provide needed care. Should a health concern arise, the animal is brought back to the shelter for examination. There is no evidence that the dogs at the offsite location have been harmed by the conditions,” a statement issued by Dr. Lisa Centonze said.

Centonze is the veterinary medical director in Hillsborough County. 8 On Your Side requested all reports, correspondence and emails about the incident, as well as the animals’ medical records.

The employees affected at least got to go home. The animals were removed from the cave Thursday.

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