Target 8: Deaths at a Hillsborough County shelter prompt call for investigation

Loki the dog.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A dog euthanized by mistake, cats and dogs found dead in their kennels and the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center slowly releasing information about a rabid cat.   

All of those stories were recently exposed by Target 8, all elicited strong emotion online and at the county’s Animal Advisory Committee meeting this week.

There were a lot of burning issues that came up at the meeting, but P.R.C. director Scott Trebatoski was absent again.

Most of the questions posed by committee members were answered with an “I don’t know” by P.R.C. staff.

Questions about why a dog named Loki was accidentally euthanized are not going away.

Angry comments keep coming on Facebook, citing Loki and our report that four dogs and 10 cats were recently found dead in their kennels.

Susan Smith, president of the Florida Association of Kennel Clubs traveled from Hernando County to tell Hillsborough’s Animal Advisory Committee the deaths at the shelter are serious and the P.R.C. should be investigated.

“If one dog or cat had died at a boarding kennel, doggie day care facility or grooming shop, law enforcement and P.R.C. would be investigating rigorously,” Smith told committee members.

“Where is the regulation and the follow through on that?” asked a member of the audience.

Committee member Dr. Christy Layton’s questions went unanswered.

“Do we know why those dogs and cats died?” she asked.

“I do not, no,” replied P.R.C.’s Craig Horner.

“Do we do necropsies on dogs and cats that die in the shelter?” inquired Dr. Layton.

“I’m not a medical doctor, I do not know the answer to that information,” said Horner.

“Can I ask why we don’t have Director Trebatoski here for the second month in a row?” asked Dr. Layton.

“I know he’s on vacation this week,” answered Horner.

“Third month in a row,” said Dr. Layton. “So we can’t get any answers to our questions tonight then.”

Dr. Layton also raised concerns about a video of a dog panting and drooling in its P.R.C. kennel.

“My opinion is they were having some heat exhaustion issues,” she told committee members. “Are we looking into anything such as fans, misters, A.C.? Since we’ve made the building beautiful and we’ve made all the offices beautiful, now can we actually take care of the animals and get them cooled down?”

Though physically absent, ever present was Director Scott Trebatoski’s omission of P.R.C.’s admission that it mistakenly killed Loki.

“Under Director Trebatoski, there is a culture of attempting to hide public records and deliberately misleading of the public,” Tamar Barry of Rescue Me Tampa told the committee.

There were questions about why the P.R.C. did not quickly notify workers at a clinic about a rabid cat to which they had been exposed.

“I don’t know the ins and the outs and who was let know, when and where,” explained Horner.

Last week, we reported the county performed necropsies on the dead dogs. Two died from complications from surgery at P.R.C. and one died from cancer. A necropsy on the fourth dog was inconclusive.

We have no information about why the cats died.

If you have a problem that you think should be investigated, call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808. Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.

Follow Steve Andrews on Facebook

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