Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pinellas commissioners want Animal Services department reviewed

CLEARWATER — Pinellas commissioners want County Administrator Bob LaSala to review problems in the county's Animal Services Department after a report about the agency appeared in the St. Petersburg Times Tuesday.

In interviews Tuesday, a majority of the commissioners expressed concern over discipline records and complaints of favoritism in the department.

"You can't fault our employees for not following policy when you didn't follow policy," said Commissioner Norm Roche, a former county employee.

Assistant County Administrator Maureen "Moe" Freaney will examine the reported problems, LaSala said. He also said he will ask the personnel office to review discipline actions by supervisors.

"Am I disappointed? Yes. I want a level of service that everybody wants, and we will continue to strive to do that," LaSala said.

A quarter of the 47 animal service employees have been disciplined in the past five years. Its reprimands and suspensions numbered almost as many as some much larger departments, the Times found.

Workers committed paperwork errors but also more serious violations, such as euthanizing the wrong cat and watching hours of streaming movies on county computers while at work.

Disciplined workers complained of favoritism, tension and poor morale in a department that has lost a third of its staff since 2007 to budget cuts.

The troubles prompted animal advocate Dan Hester, who helped create the county's anti-tethering law for dogs, to call on Pinellas officials to upgrade Animal Services.

Hester, a bank executive and former Seminole City Council member, said budget cuts have left the agency too thin. Some of the employees with discipline records would have been fired in the private sector, Hester said.

"I'm going to hold the county commissioners accountable. That's where the buck stops," said Hester.

Cutbacks have left Dewayne Taylor overworked as the director and the sole veterinarian at the department, Hester said.

County officials already intend to spare Animal Services from budget cuts proposed for 2011-12. But commissioners said the hard times and pressure facing the department are felt across the county. LaSala acknowledged Taylor was stretched thin.

"I still have a lot of confidence in him. If improvements need to be made, I have no doubt he and Moe will accomplish them," LaSala said.

David DeCamp can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8779. Follow him on Twitter with @DeCampTimes.

Pinellas commissioners want Animal Services department reviewed 05/31/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 10:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Mikhail Sergachev scores twice as Lightning shuts out Blue Jackets (w/ video)

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Mikhail Sergachev said he blacked out for a few seconds after his first NHL goal Thursday night, a rocket slap shot from the point.

    Mikhail Sergachev, front, looks like he’s very in the moment with teammate Dan Girardi after scoring his first NHL goal, though he says he blacked out for a bit. He scores again in the second.
  2. Another suspicious death in Tampa's Seminole Heights


    TAMPA — Police were investigating what they were calling a suspicious death in southeast Seminole Heights Thursday night, near the location of two fatal shootings last week.

    Interim Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan addresses reporters about the latest suspicious death in southeast Seminole Heights Thursday night. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL | Times]
  3. Duke tops preseason coaches' basketball poll; Gators No. 7


    Duke has been tabbed basketball's preseason No. 1 for the second straight season in the coaches' poll, released Thursday.

    Florida point guard Chris Chiozza launches the shot of last season’s NCAA Tournament, a winning 3
against Wisconsin that put the Gators into the Elite Eight. Chiozza returns to lead a UF team that’s getting its share of preseason attention, including a No. 7 ranking in the coaches’ poll.
  4. Richard Spencer speaks, and Gainesville emerges weary but at peace


    GAINESVILLE — Fists raised, a sea of defiant student protesters at the University of Florida relentlessly shouted down the white nationalist on stage. Richard Spencer paced, irritated, clinging to his chance to talk.

    Protesters scream at supporters of Richard Spencer after his speech at the Phillips Center at the University of Florida.  [Thursday October 19, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  5. Pentagon investigating troubling questions after deadly Niger ambush


    WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, troubled by a lack of information two weeks after an ambush on a special operations patrol in Niger left four U.S. soldiers dead, is demanding a timeline of what is known about the attack, as a team of investigators sent to West Africa begins its work.