Saturday, November 25, 2017
News Roundup

Pasco takes steps to save more dogs and cats at animal shelter

RECOMMENDED READING


Pasco County's animal control officials are starting a new effort they hope will save more animals and repair relations with critics.

County commissioners last week gave their blessing for a "save 90 percent" plan endorsed by the no-kill movement of animal advocates. Staffers are working out details, but the goal is to find homes for nearly all animals that come through the county's doors. Some, because of age or sickness, must still be put down.

It's an ambitious goal that officials previously shied away from. They warn that they need buy-in from residents to make it work.

"We're going to really push on the public relations end to have the citizens involved more and more," said Animal Services manager John Malley. "We're definitely putting out an all-points bulletin that we need volunteers and we need them now."

The change comes after advocates lobbed criticism of Animals Services for several months. Commissioners received dozens and dozens of emails accusing the county of needlessly euthanizing animals and running an inhumane operation. They called on the county to fire Malley and other managers.

Now, both Malley and his critics say the relationship is being repaired.

"We're moving in a direction that we've all been striving for," said Kimberleigh Kernon of Port Richey, who founded Saving Grace Animal Rescue. "We're definitely excited about the changes that are going to be taking place."

Kernon credits Commissioner Pat Mulieri with championing their cause and working with county staffers.

"They are getting so excited, the animal groups," Mulieri said at a commission meeting Wednesday. "It's just the right thing to do."

Mulieri plans to stop by the animal shelter in Land O'Lakes for special events on Nov. 16 and 30 to recruit volunteers.

"She's not just a talker," Kernon said. "She's going to get out there, put her boots on and she's going to shovel poo."

A major complaint from some rescue groups is the conditions at the county's intake center, known as "Building C." Built in the 1980s, the building is showing its age. The paint on the concrete floor is peeling. The metal cages are worn. There are few windows, and open rafters make the place look like a warehouse. There is no air conditioning.

Suzanne Salichs, who recently took over as assistant county administrator for public services, said one the first things she did was ask for renovations.

"That was a big point of contention in the emails, the condition of the building," Salichs said. "We addressed that immediately."

Using money left over from building Pasco's new adoption center, the county will soon repaint peeling floors, replace the ceiling and add central heat and air conditioning.

Other changes include increasing the county's official holding capacity from 120 to 150 animals. Advocates argue the intake building and adoption center have many more cages than that.

Malley said the limit is based on national guidelines limiting how many animals a shelter can care for with its staff and volunteers. With more volunteers, he said, the county can care for more animals.

Said Kernon: "As much as we'd all like to think so, Pasco's not going to be able to do this all by themselves. The more help they can get, the easier it will be."

Recently, the county temporarily extended its holding capacity and had 200 animals on Friday. Malley said the county has largely stopped euthanizing animals for the past two weeks.

"We're doing everything we can right now to maintain those numbers," he said.

Officials are crafting a business plan to provide more details, including financing strategies, for the "Save 90 percent" strategy. Part of the plan could include a slight increase in licensing fees to pay for an adoption and rescue coordinator whose sole job would be working with rescue groups to find permanent homes for animals.

Other ideas include registering cats (currently the county only requires registration for dogs) and a trap, neuter and release program for feral cats. Right now, cats are euthanized at a much higher rate than dogs.

"We see it's the only way out for our feral cat population," he said. "That's what destroys our life-release numbers."

Malley said he hopes to finish the plan in the next month or so.

Lee Logan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

Comments
Region football: Plant 13, Lakeland 10

Region football: Plant 13, Lakeland 10

LAKELAND — The game — and the season — were supposed to be over.Lakeland was set to exact revenge. The Dreadnaughts had the lead and the ball in the final three minutes and were heading for a field goal. Then it happened. The magic continued.Plant’s ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Region football: Venice 48, Tampa Bay Tech 17

VENICE — Tampa Bay Tech not only had to stop a hot receiver in Friday night’s Class 7A region final against Venice, but a hot running back as well. That proved to be too much.Indians receiver Jaivon Heiligh caught 14 passes for 193 yards and three to...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Region football: Armwood 31, Ocala Vanguard 17

SEFFNER — Armwood appeared to be on its way to yet another rout through the first 24 minutes of football Friday night.James Miller delivered a crunching hit on the opening kickoff. The defense looked suffocating, holding Ocala Vanguard to a mere 23 y...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Region football: Immokalee 42, Lakewood 14

IMMOKALEE — The final score wasn’t truly indicative of what transpired on Friday night.Lakewood fell to a dynamic Immokalee squad 42-14 in a tough environment in a Class 5A region final.The Spartans (9-2) forced three turnovers and held Immokalee (12...
Updated: 2 hours ago
State semifinal football: Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna 49, Clearwater Central Catholic 3

State semifinal football: Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna 49, Clearwater Central Catholic 3

CLEARWATER — Stocked with a wealth of Division I-A commits and prepared by a heavy-duty schedule, Hollywood Chaminade-Madonna spent three months building for Friday night’s Class 3A state semifinal game.The Lions played at another level against top-s...
Updated: 2 hours ago

State semifinal football: Hialeah Champagnat Catholic 38, Cambridge Christian 0

TAMPA — Hialeah Champagnat Catholic was well on its way to a third unanswered touchdown, but the Lions just couldn’t stop blocking their own path. In one second-quarter drive during Friday’s 2A state semifinal against Cambridge Christian, Champagnat ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Lightning attitude under fire after loss to Capitals

Lightning attitude under fire after loss to Capitals

WASHINGTON — You don’t often sense frustration in captain Steven Stamkos’ voice, at least not this season. With the Lightning off to its best start in franchise history, there haven’t been many reasons to chide. Every criticism seems nitpicky. But af...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Bucs-Falcons: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

Bucs-Falcons: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions for Sunday’s 1 p.m. game

The Bucs face the defending NFC champion in its new home Sunday in Atlanta.Here’s the Times’ Bucs coverage team’s predictions for Tampa Bay’s 1 p.m. game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium:MATTY ICE-FOLLIESRick Stroud, @NFLStroud: T...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Freshman quarterback leads Pitt to 24-14 upset over No. 2 Miami

Freshman quarterback leads Pitt to 24-14 upset over No. 2 Miami

PITTSBURGH — Miami spent the better part of 13 months cultivating the nation’s longest winning streak behind a series of comebacks that returned the swagger to "The U" in all of its "Turnover Chain" glory. Sluggish through the first half against Pitt...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Florida-Florida State: What’s really riding on Saturday’s game

Florida-Florida State: What’s really riding on Saturday’s game

GAINESVILLE — If misery loves company, at least the Gators and Seminoles have each other.That’s about the only positive in the least-appealing Florida-Florida State showdown in decades. Both enter Ben Hill Griffin Stadium today 4-6 — only the second ...
Updated: 4 hours ago