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 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. Manahattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman


    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  2. Bucs talk social issues, protests at team meeting


    TAMPA — Each time Dirk Koetter walks through the door of his office at One Buc Place, he passes by the only jersey framed on his wall.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) wears custom cleats to represent Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) as part of the NFL???‚??„?s "My Cause, My Cleats Campaign" before the start of a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.
  3. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA


    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  4. St. Petersburg man shot in arm during home invasion robbery


    ST. PETERSBURG — One man was arrested on charges he shot another man in the arm while attempting to rob a home in what St. Petersburg police are calling a drug-related incident.

    John Alam, 25, faces charges of home invasion robbery, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon after deputies said he tried to rob a home Wednesday morning and ended up shooting someone. [Courtesy of Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  5. Bob Buckhorn, a mayor who knows what he wants, surveys constituents on what they want


    TAMPA — Focus has not been a problem — or really, even a question — during the six-plus years that Mayor Bob Buckhorn has been in office.

    Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn keeps a digital countdown clock in his office showing the days, hours. minutes and seconds until he is term-limited out of office on April 1, 2019. As of Wednesday, he had 584 days to go. [City of Tampa]