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One soft spot for dogs, 325 soft spots for sleeping

Bindi is alive today because Bob Reina paid for emergency treatment after an alligator attack. Reina is now her owner.

GEN YAMAGUCHI | Times

Bindi is alive today because Bob Reina paid for emergency treatment after an alligator attack. Reina is now her owner.

TAMPA — Thanks to one dog's run-in with an alligator, thousands of other Hillsborough County strays will sleep more comfortably.

You may recall the story of Bindi, the shepherd mix found grievously injured near an east county mining pit this summer. The pup's left front leg had been stripped to the bone. Animal rescue workers suspected an alligator.

In stepped Bob Reina, chief executive of a tech company, who paid for a lifesaving amputation and heartworm treatment for Bindi. Then he adopted her.

Now, Reina is going two steps better.

After touring the Hillsborough County animal shelter and seeing dogs sprawled on concrete kennel pads, Reina decided to buy them beds. In all, Reina has purchased 325 beds at a cost of $18,000.

He is also volunteering to create a nonprofit marketing firm to promote animal adoptions and address other needs at the shelter. Its goal: to reduce and even eliminate the need for euthanizing 20,000 animals in Hillsborough County each year.

"There's a lot of people who want to help," Reina said. "They just don't know how to help. It's just a matter of helping get the word out."

Reina is chief executive officer of Talk Fusion, which produces and distributes marketing videos that can be embedded in e-mails. After seeing conditions at the animal shelter, he talked with high school friend and Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin White.

White announced the gift at Thursday's commission meeting, Reina standing at his side and Bindi lying at his feet.

The beds Reina will donate are essentially PVC frames that support a sheet that looks like soft vinyl, suspending dogs that rest on them above the floor. Hillsborough Animal Services acting director Dennis McCullough said they are easy to clean and keep germ-free, and difficult for dogs to chew up.

McCullough called them "the Mercedes-Benz of dog beds."

With Reina's e-mail video abilities, the nonprofit marketing business can send out viral messages to lists of potential volunteers to drum up adoptions and address other shelter needs.

"The possibilities are endless," McCullough said.

In other action:

Commissioners approved an economic subsidy proposal in an effort to persuade a Tampa-based financial services company to expand in Hillsborough. The company, the name of which is shielded from disclosure while negotiations are ongoing, is also courting locations in other states, said Bruce Register, the county's corporate business development manager.

Under the proposal, the company would pledge to create 275 jobs an average salary of at least $43,475. In exchange, the company would be eligible for up to $825,000 in state and local tax rebates, up to $165,000 of which would come from the county.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Bill Varian can be reached at varian@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3387.

One soft spot for dogs, 325 soft spots for sleeping 09/04/08 [Last modified: Saturday, September 6, 2008 4:26pm]
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