Humane Society launches plans for DeBartolo Family Animal Shelter

Published July 12 2018
Updated July 15 2018

In a cage inside a room at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay’s intake building sits Rocky, a small, quiet dog with a dark coat and long wispy bangs.

To the left and right of him are other cages filled with dogs who also have had a complete examination by the veterinarian.

They await placement in the facility’s primary shelter, and it could be a while.

Space is at such a premium at the Society’s main building, cages line the hallways and storage rooms have been converted to offices.

But that soon will change thanks to a gift from the DeBartolo family that will spark construction of a new 41,000-foot animal shelter.

Humane Society officials plan to break ground on the $11-million DeBartolo Family Animal Shelter as early as next spring, said the nonprofit’s CEO Sherri Silk. The gift is the result of year-long discussions between Society staff and board of directors, and the DeBartolo family.

The society already has raised $8.7 million toward the new building that will replace the current facility, which has stood for more than 50 years. The construction will expand the Society’s campus along Armenia Avenue, which also boasts an Animal Health Center that opened in 2012.

Society officials will continue to pursue gifts and donations, many of which have come from the general public according to development director Karen Ryals.

The Society officially launched their capital campaign this week with a website and donation portal at

"It’s a win-win for the Tampa community," Ryals said. "We’ll be able to help more animals."

Former Society volunteer Sylvia Tagliarini said she’s excited for the coming changes at the shelter, where she was visiting Wednesday to adopt another dog.

"I think it’s wonderful," she said.

It’s estimated that that new building will help the Society save an additional 2,000 animals annually.

The Society’s current collection of modular and concrete buildings and adjacent outdoor play areas will be removed to make way for a multi-story facility that will have central heating and air, isolation space to contain animals with contagious disease, and nursery accommodations for under aged puppies, kittens, and nursing moms.

Additionally, the new building will allow the Society to expand some of its outreach to the homeless and their pets and its humane education program.

The Society will relocate its offices and shelters to temporary quarters while the new building is under construction. The estimated time of construction is 14 months. Some animals will be housed at Hillsborough County’s Pet Resource Center, Silk said.

Contact Kenya Woodard at [email protected]