Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

New Port Richey animal control kennels filled to capacity

NEW PORT RICHEY

The city's new animal protection unit has already run out of kennel space.

Since the program's inception in October, New Port Richey has been using kennels on loan from the Suncoast SPCA at its Congress Street facility until city-owned cages could be built. The city decided to run its own animal control operation, instead of using Pasco Animal Services, in an effort to save money and get more local service.

But now officials are moving away from the longtime plan to build the city's kennels behind the New Port Richey Police Department on Adams Street. Among the concerns about that site: Volunteers with the animal control unit would need to be granted access to the secure area behind the Police Department, and the kennels would put numerous barking dogs right next to a row of neighbors, police Chief James Steffens said.

So the city is looking for a new site, which means it will take longer than expected for New Port Richey to build its own kennels.

Steffens told council members Tuesday that he plans to extend the city's memorandum of understanding with the SPCA to continue using those borrowed kennels for a while longer. The kennels on loan to the city are separate from the SPCA's own animal shelter.

City Council member Bob Langford relayed concerns from one of the volunteers who described cramped conditions at the borrowed kennels.

"We've opened our arms more than we expected," Steffens acknowledged.

In an interview Friday, Steffens called the program's early days a "wild success," but said as with any new program, there will be challenges to overcome. One of those challenges has been assessing which dogs to bring into the facility, he said.

Steffens said the volunteers naturally want to save every dog they come across. But he said the mission of the unit must remain protecting the public while collecting only dangerous and roaming animals.

"We need to make sure that we don't become a rescue or adoption center," Steffens said. "So that's the evaluation process that we are in. We're looking at what's working and what's not working."

The borrowed kennels include 11 fenced runs and several smaller crates, all of which were full on Friday. The city is paying Pasco Animal Hospital veterinary clinic $15 a day to house another dog, said animal protection officer Jeff McReynolds.

"It's overflowing full," he said. "We need space."

McReynolds — who says he volunteers at least 60 hours a week serving as the unit's only animal protection officer in the field — said the program has up to 30 volunteers who clean the kennels and feed and walk the dogs several times a day.

Other than the space crunch, McReynolds said the unit has been a success. He said the unit has kept its promise not to euthanize any animals unless absolutely necessary. That's happened twice: One dog had been severely injured by a car. Another was found starved to the brink of death, he said.

There have been some success stories, too. A pit bull named Keona had a cancerous tumor removed from her leg and is recovering well. McReynolds also found an abandoned poodle with matted, filthy brown hair that actually turned out to be white when groomed. A vet treated the poodle's leg, and McReynolds and his wife, Sharon, who helped found the unit, have taken Rosie the poodle into their home.

"I'm exhausted," said McReynolds. "But I love it. I feel like I'm saving lives every day."

Steffens said help is on the way. Two of his police officers are scheduled for animal control training and certification next month. The hope is also to have two more volunteers take the same training in order to give McReynolds a hand.

New Port Richey animal control kennels filled to capacity 01/11/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 11, 2013 8:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Cridlin: Linkin Park's Chester Bennington had a wail that stood apart

    Music & Concerts

    For all the old-timers' talk about how they don't make singers like they used to, about how rock vocalists of the 21st century can't hold a candle to the frontmen of yesteryear, here's a fact no hater could deny:

    Chester Bennington could flat-out wail.

    Chester Bennington of Linkin Park  performs at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa for the 2014 Carnivores Tour. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  2. Police investigating shooting in north Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Police were investigating a shooting in north Tampa Thursday that left one person seriously injured.

  3. Macy's chairman replaces ex-HSN head Grossman on National Retail Federation board

    Retail

    Terry Lundgren, chairman of Macy's Inc., will replace Weight Watchers CEO Mindy Grossman as chair of the National Retail Federation, the organization announced Wednesday. Grossman stepped down from her position following her move from leading St. Petersburg-based HSN to Weight Watchers.

    Weight Watchers CEO and former HSN chief Mindy Grossman is being replaced as chair of the National Retail Federation. [HSN Inc.]
  4. Team begins work to exhume Salvador Dali's body for paternity test

    World

    FIGUERES, Spain — A forensic team on Thursday entered the Salvador Dali museum in northeastern Spain where the surrealist artist's remains are due to be exhumed to settle a paternity claim brought by a 61- year-old woman.

    Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali, presents his first Chrono-Hologram in Paris, France, in 1973. Work has begun to exhume his body for a parternity test. Dali, considered one of the fathers of surrealism in art, died in 1989 and is buried in his museum in the northeastern town of Figueres. [Associated Press]
  5. Good news for Rays on Steven Souza Jr. as MRI shows 'no damage' to hip

    Blogs

    The Rays got good news today on RF Steven Souza Jr., as an MRI showed "no damage" to his left hip.

    Steven Souza Jr. #20 of the Tampa Bay Rays holds his leg after hurting himself trying to steal second base in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum on July 19, 2017 in Oakland, California.