8 INVESTIGATES: 10K Humane Society puppies and cats add to Hillsborough pet population

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Humane Society is saving thousands of animals, bringing them to Tampa Bay then adopting them out.  Local rescues contend that’s bad news for Hillsborough county’s cats and dogs.

Hillsborough County commissioners agreed to pay the Humane Society of Tampa Bay (HSTB) up to $100,000 to help keep strays out of the pound. The problem, some say, is some of those animals the Humane Society imports, are ending in the county shelter too.

RELATED: Despite political dog fight, Hillsborough approves animal abuse registry

The Humane Society of Tampa Bay is dedicated to ending animal homelessness and providing care for others. That’s one reason it rescues puppies and other animals from other parts of Florida, Georgia and other states. Local rescues contend these imports are causing problems, like taking up room at the shelter, when they are surrendered or abandoned.

After a Thursday county commission meeting, the Humane Society’s Nash McCutchen and Amy Howland of Dogma Pet Rescue squared off over that issue.

“You’re not doing any good by pulling the puppies and bringing them to Hillsborough and they end up back in the shelter,” said Amy.

“But they don’t,” insisted Nash.

“But they do,” argued Amy.

“I’m not going to argue with you on camera, Amy,” stated Nash.

Amy points out the Humane Society doesn’t participate in spaying or neutering the parents of the puppies it saves from other states. According to its own figures, in the last three years, the HSTB has shipped in nearly 10,000 dogs and cats to be adopted to local forever homes. The problem is many of those homes are not forever.

According to the Rescue Me Tampa FaceBook page, in May 2015, a pooch named Pluto ended up at the county shelter. The website states it was adopted from the Humane Society and they won’t take it back. Rescue Me Tampa says after it made the issue public, HSTB finally took back Pluto.

“There’s been a lot of dogs that have turned up at Hillsborough county Animal Services that were Humane Society dogs,” said Amy.

“If that is the case and we’re not being called then that needs to change because we always will take our animals back,” added Nash.

The HSTB contends 85 percent of the animals it takes in are local. Its figures show a different story. From 2013 to 2015, that number is more like 53 percent. Critics claim the HSTB needs to focus on local animals.

“They’ve been at animal services though and they’re crowding our shelter,” explained Amy.

“We will have to agree to disagree on this issue,” Nash said. “We are not contributing to the pet overpopulation in Hillsborough county.”

Scott Trebatoski, director of the County Pet Resource Center, told 8 On Your Side it would be difficult to figure out how many Humane Society dogs and cats end up in the shelter. They’re all microchipped but he said the microchip registration changes from owner to owner.

If you have something that you think should be investigated call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1 800 338-0808.

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