TARGET 8: Horribly neglected dog returned to owner in Hillsborough

Photos show Emily's hair loss.
This neglected Chow Chow was returned to its owner.
This neglected Chow Chow was returned to its owner.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A dog that the shelter called Emily, came into the Hillsborough County Pet Resources Center as a stray last week with a myriad of health issues.

Severe dry eye, severe dermatitis, severe periodontal disease, as well as an ear infection were all documented by a county veterinarian.  According to a county email, the severe dry eye condition will require lifelong therapy.

“That tells me that dog suffered severe neglect for a very, very, long time,” said Amy Howland of Dogma Pet Rescue.

Hillsborough County records show the Pet Resources Center issued a medical plea to local rescues for help with Emily.  Dogma Pet Rescue stepped up.

“It was a dog we very much wanted to help,” explained Amy.

Dogma Pet Rescue expected to pay about $1,500 to $2,000 in veterinary bills for Emily’s care.  It also lined up a foster home to take her in.

“It’s very rewarding to see a dog like that, with skin issues like that, turn around and look beautiful and have a wonderful happy life,” Amy said.

Five days later P.R.C. informed Amy that Emily’s owner came back and claimed her.

The county said the dog’s owner claimed her late the same afternoon that Emily arrived at the shelter.  Documents show the owner was told to take the dog to a vet and she apparently complied.

“Disgusting, disgusting,” Amy summarized.

Disgusting and familiar.  In February, Target 8 revealed P.R.C. handed back to their owner, three Yorkies that were confiscated due to neglect.

At the time, assistant county administrator Dexter Barge had little to say. “I can’t speak to that case,” he told us.

“I think that our operations are better than they were when I took place, I took over the place,” said P.R.C. director Scott Trebatoski.

Tell that to a red Chow with severe skin issues and nails so long it looks painful to walk. Records show the P.R.C. returned him to his owner in September.

And now Emily.

Target 8 requested an interview, but the county did not provide anyone.  No Scott Trebatoski, no Dexter Barge, no Deputy County Administrator Greg Horwadel, no County Administrator Mike Merrill.

The timing of this incident involving this dog is ironic.  This week, the county bragged that its new animal abuse registry took effect.

Its FaceBook page warns “If you’re transferring or exchanging an animal of any kind… it’s your responsibility to ensure these animals do not get into the hands of animal abusers.

Apparently the rules don’t apply to Hillsborough County’s P.R.C.

“I don’t think they care at all,” said Amy.

This neglected Chow Chow was returned to its owner.
This neglected Chow Chow was returned to its owner. 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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