Hillsborough shelter checks on dog after Target 8 contacts commissioners

The poodle before (left) and an updated photo (right).

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – An elderly poodle with severe medical conditions is now the poster child for an ongoing issue at Hillsborough County’s Pet Resource Center.

The poodle, picked up as a stray in late October, was handed back to its owner after PRC staff sent an email blast to local rescues asking for medical help with the dog.

A PRC veterinarian noted it suffered severe periodontal disease, severe dry eye and severe skin conditions.

Amy Rowland of Dogma Pet Rescue stepped up to take the poodle and provide much needed medical care.  Then, she learned the shelter returned the dog.

“My problem was that it was part of a pattern, that they’re giving abused and neglected dogs back to their owners,” she said.

PRC also returned a chow mix to its owner.  The dogs nails were neglectfully long.

Fed up with what she has seen, last weekend, Howland complained to county commissioners.

In an email she wrote; “Cases like this animal services needs to file a petition for custody with the courts and let the judge decide.”

“I haven’t gotten one response from a county commissioner,” she said.  “Its not acceptable at all, these are our county commissioners, they work for us. They need to respond.”

Tuesday morning, Target 8 began calling every Hillsborough County commissioner about the email.

Later that morning, PRC director Scott Trebatoski then sent out an “URGENT REQUEST” to staff.

“I need to know what the condition of the dog is now,” the email said.

None of this seemed so urgent before hand.

In fact, at a November Animal Advisory committee meeting, Trebatoski took issue with a Target 8 story in which we profiled the poodle, the fact it was returned to its owner and Howland’s objections to it.

“To simply jump to conclusions based on a photograph is not fair,” Trebatoski said at the meeting.

“I wasn’t jumping to conclusions based on one photograph, I was going on the notes from the veterinarian that this dog had severe medical issues,” Howland said.

PRC checked on the dog only after our calls to commissioners.  Relying on photos from the owner, Trebatoski assured commissioners in an email, “our trust in the owner’s commitment to her pet looks well founded.”

Howland wonders who is jumping to conclusions now.

“I do not jump to conclusions based upon one photograph, I want to see medical records,” added Howland.  “Those pictures aren’t sufficient by a long shot.”

If you have a problem that you think needs to be investigated call our Target 8 Helpline at 1 800 338-0808.

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