Kittens stuffed in plastic container; Hillsborough slow to respond

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – On Friday morning before dawn security cameras rolled as a vehicle crept into the driveway at the Alafia River Animal Hospital in Lithia.

“What appears to be a woman dropped off a Rubbermaid container that was zip-tied shut at the front door at about 5:30 in the morning,” Dr. Ellen Alence said.

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A few drill holes dotted the box’s sides. The box contained four kittens and two slightly older cats. “It was overheating in there, like the cats were in distress,” Alence said.

Staff tended to the cats and called Hillsborough County’s Pet Resource Center.  PRC did not respond. Staff called again three hours later. “We got no phone call back,” Alence said.

Hillsborough box

She is running out of patience. She’s experienced a series of animal abandonment cases, all captured on security cameras.

PRC’s response to one of her calls was to let the animal go. “And I said, ‘I can’t do that; that would be animal endangerment. I’m on a main road,” Alence said.

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Dr. Alence said the PRC used to respond quickly to animal abandonment calls. She claims that changed when Scott Trebatoski became director. “It is an excuse du jour,” she said.

In response to her complaint about one abandonment case, Trebatoski wrote in an email that  an “officer is pursuing civil citations for the violation. These citations come with a large fine and substantial court costs.”

For all of the cases reported by Alence, the PRC cited one person, who abandoned a dog in Alence’s lobby. That came only after 8 On Your Side solicited a confession from the man.

Dr. Alence says Trebatoski told her he would personally look at the abandonment cases and write up the citations if he had enough evidence. “I don’t believe what Mr. Trebatoski has to say, and if you do believe what he has to say, I’ve got some swampland in Florida I’d like to sell you,” she said.

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Alence fired off angry emails to county commissioners on Friday, stating she’s had enough of the excuses and lack of response from the PRC. She suggested making immediate and drastic changes there. She also said the cats were deliberately abandoned; their lives were endangered. PRC picked up the cats Friday afternoon.

The county says the Pet Resources Center is currently working with law enforcement to identify who left the cats. It is looking into what circumstances prevented PRC from providing Dr. Alence with an ETA for picking up the animals.

If you have a problem you think needs to be investigated, call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1-800-338-0808.

READ MORE ABOUT HILLSBOROUGH’S PET RESOURCE CENTER: provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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