HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – When the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center handed a 13-year-old black poodle with severe medical issues back over to its owner, local rescues and animal supporters unleashed a flood of anger and frustration at the agency.
On Monday Target 8 went to check on the dog. News Channel 8 received a tirade from the dog’s owner. “Go! I don’t understand what you’re doing; go,” the owner yelled across her front yard.
Target 8 was trying to see how the dog was doing. The owner did say she’s doing well but would not show her to News Channel 8. After she had gone back into her house, Target 8 took out a camera to shoot video. The owner came back out and angrily yelled, “What are you doing? You want me to call the cops on you? Go!”
Earlier this month Target 8 reported the dog had been picked up as a stray. She suffered numerous medical problems.
After sending an email blast requesting a local rescue take the dog, the PRC returned it the very day she came into the shelter.
In that story, News Channel 8 also showed other dogs the county turned back to owners. For that, Amy Howland of Dogma Pet Rescue called out the county at its last Animal Advisory Committee meeting.
“There are laws in place to protect the voiceless from harm, and by not employing these laws and not doing everything in their power to protect these animals, the abusers have become Hillsborough County government,” Howland said. “The lives of these individual dogs matter.”
Taxpayers provided beau-coup medication to the dog. The PRC then provided the poodle to the owner when she claimed her.
PRC Director Scott Trebatoski defended his agency to the crowd at that meeting. “To simply jump to conclusions based on a photograph is not fair to the people that work in this industry and that know the whole story,” he said.
According to county notes, the dog suffered from severe periodontal disease, severe skin issues, ear infections and severe dry eye.
Trebatoski pointed out the young woman who owns the dog took her from someone in her family who is elderly. “This person was trying to do the right thing,” he explained.
The director of Veterinary Services at the PRC addressed the meeting. Dr. Lisa Centonze said she never would have turned the dog loose if she suspected abuse. “We educated the young woman who reclaimed the dog about the dog’s condition. We issued an official notice for veterinary care with which she complied,” Centonze said.
The PRC veterinary staff gave the poodle a medicinal bath, antibiotics and steroids for the skin issues, ear cleaning and medication, and ointment for the eyes, all at taxpayer expense.
The PRC was not reimbursed for the money it spent on providing medication to the dog.
The animal was not licensed when it was brought into the shelter, but the PRC did not cite the owner.
Officials did not specify the conditions the dog needed to be treated for when the issued the order for veterinary care.
What it did, its critics say, was push the dog right out the door.
If you have a problem you think needs to be investigated, call the Target 8 helpline at 1-800-338-0808.