Target 8: Free pet adoptions put Hillsborough dogs in peril

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center is bursting with animals. So many, that in July, it held a free pet adoption weekend. 

Lizanne Quinn helps track dogs adopted from the shelter through the PAIRS Project. She and other volunteers contact adopters to help make them aware of resources that will lead to successful outcomes.

For some dogs, the outcome wasn’t so good on free adoption weekend.

“We found that some of the dogs went to people who advertise on Facebook pages about hog hunting. We see some of the dogs on Craigslist for sale the day after they were adopted. They’re for sale for $50 dollars, they’re advertised as hog hunters,” said Quinn.

Emails and pictures Target 8 obtained from the county show the PRC is well aware of all this.

In one case, the PRC adopted a dog named Etta to a man who owed Hillsborough $560 dollars in fines for violating county animal ordinances.

“There’s no application process to weed out the people who should not be given dogs,” added Quinn.

Etta went to an owner who repeatedly failed to vaccinate his dogs with rabies shots and purchase license tags.

“When there’s a free dog weekend, those people come out in droves to get free dogs,” she said.

After Target 8 requested emails which raised concerns about Etta and other dogs, a county animal control officer paid a visit to the dog’s new home. He confiscated Etta for cruelty and grabbed five more for the same reason.

“Animal Control Officers, escorted by HCSO, took the dogs referenced into custody. The officers issued a citation to the owner. The referenced dog (A1792982) was adopted during the weekend of July 28-30 to an individual that had an outstanding fine related to a citation for failure to license. PRC’s records are not tied directly to the Clerk of Courts’ collections system,” PRC Director Scott Trebatoski replied in a statement.

“During an adoption interview, the enjoined list and animal abuser registry are checked by staff to determine whether or not an individual is prohibited from adopting an animal. The individual who adopted A1792982 (Etta) was not on either list.”

That points to the need for an application. It took volunteers just minutes to find the information about the outstanding fines.

“As a county, we should be concerned if we are spending our money sending animal control out to follow up on adoptions that clearly should not have taken place to begin with, ” said Quinn. “I think that should concern everyone.”

Following Target 8’s request for emails about Etta and other dogs placed in precarious situations, many of which happened to be from Lizanne Quinn, PRC director Scott Trebatoski notified Quinn that the county will be taking over the PAIRS Project to keep track of the dogs it gives away.

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

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