HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Thirty-seven thousand people have signed an online petition calling for the director of Hillsborough County’s Pet Resource Center to be fired.
The petition is on Care2, a social network where citizen activists trying to impact local, national and international issues, start petitions and support each other’s campaigns.
The petition cites Target 8 reports, that for nearly a year, exposed highly questionable decisions by the PRC.
Last week Target 8 profiled video of a pit bull attacking a three-year-old playing ball in the office of PRC Volunteer Coordinator Christine O’Dell.
O’Dell and the boy’s father, Craig Horner, another PRC manager allowed the child to play by the dog.
The dog, Georgie, was moved to O’Dell’s office because it was stressed in the shelter kennel.
The child was bit on the arm, and then the dog went for his face. The little boy did not suffer severe physical injury.
The PRC later euthanized the dog.
“The idea that tax dollars are going to an entity that then isn’t doing the right thing for a set of animals, that’s very offensive to our folks,” said Care2 Grassroots coordinator Aaron Viles.
“It’s not a stand alone petition in some corner of the internet, it comes on the tail of lots of good investigation.”
For 10 months Target 8 has documented problems at the Pet Resource Center.
Problems such as:
- Multiple examples of neglected dogs sent back to their owners, including a poodle that had such a bad skin condition the PRC wasn’t even sure it was a poodle.
- The Dangerous Dog Registry was not updated for two years.
- The Enjoined list, which lists abusers who are forbidden from owning animals, was not updated for two years.
- While director Trebatoski threatened to fine a veterinarian because she contemplated not selling tags, Target 8 documented a 2 year P.R.C. backlog on license tags.
- Animals were removed from a secret shelter after Target 8 revealed they and staff were exposed to dangerous chemicals.
The county responded to questions about why the dog was in the Volunteer Coordinator’s office.
In an email spokesperson Kara Walker wrote,“Per Pet Resources, shelter staff addresses stressed animals on a case-by-case basis. Depending on the animal’s needs and staff evaluations, Pet Resources determines the best course of action. Dependent upon the evaluation, staff may introduce animals to playgroups or even interact with pets both inside the facility and outside in the play yards. Regarding your questions related to the child at the facility, the child was temporarily inside the office at the Pet Resource Center with a parent, who is a Pet Resources employee with supervisory duties. Additionally, this particular animal had previously been at the shelter. Per Human Resources, there is no policy at this time regarding employees bringing their children to work as children are not typically in the workplace. The exception is “Bring Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day,” a nationally-recognized event that takes place every year in April. No disciplinary action was taken against any Pet Resources employee as it relates to your inquiry. Supervised children under the age of 16 are frequently present at the Pet Resource Center with their parents and families to see adoptable pets.”
O’Dell reports to David Morton, Managing Director of Shelter Operations, and has an annual salary of $53,726.40. She has been counseled on providing greater detail when submitting reports. Pet Resources leadership has advised staff that animals should not be placed in high-traffic areas or offices inside the PRC. Should the need arise to place an animal in one of these areas based on the animal’s evaluations, only staff and registered volunteers should be present with the animal in order to mitigate any potential risk.
The petition went to all seven Hillsborough County commissioners.
Commissioners Stacy White and Sandy Murman responded to the sender, stating they were sending off the comments to the P.R.C.
“To see that documented track record, the investigations that have shown you know, very clearly poor decisions are being made without any sort of response is troubling,” Mr. Viles added.
If you have a problem you want think should be investigated, call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808.
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