Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

48 dogs rescued from mobile home in Thonotosassa

THONOTOSASSA — Inside the blue mobile home, past the towering piles of personal belongings, sat 48 cages filled with dogs.

As a canine foster parent, Mary Grettenberger had helped rescue each one.

On Thursday, Hillsborough County Animal Services stepped in to rescue them again.

Living in filth, many of the dogs were caked in feces and crawling with fleas, said Marti Ryan, an Animal Services spokeswoman.

The four dozen dogs, including terriers and Chihuahuas, appeared to have serious skin, eye and teeth problems, she said.

According to authorities, Grettenberger was housing the dogs as part of Heart to Heart Small Dog Rescue, a registered nonprofit group. The dogs came from rescue organizations and shelters as far away as Tennessee.

Grettenberger is listed as a treasurer of the organization.

"What her original intent was, we don't know," Ryan said. "But this casts a very bad shadow over rescue groups." No charges were filed Thursday.

Heart to Heart Small Dog Rescue is a national organization, based in Sebastian, "comprised of caring foster parents devoted to the dogs," according to the organization's website.

In a statement by its board of directors, the group said they became aware of a "potential problem" with the amount of dogs Grettenberger was housing earlier this month.

"At least 10 dogs were being moved this weekend but before that could happen, all the dogs were seized from the home, including her personal dogs," the statement said.

The group also noted that not all the dogs involved were Heart to Heart rescues.

Grettenberger declined to comment.

Tim Bower Rodriguez, who said he is her attorney, issued a statement saying in part that, "If guilty of anything, she is guilty of loving and caring too much for the dogs that she rescues before they are killed by the Hillsborough County Animal Services shelter."

In an e-mail, Nadine Chiodini, a member of Heart to Heart, said that the last time she received rescues from Grettenberger, the dogs were in good condition.

"No fleas or ticks, these dogs were healthy and well fed," she wrote. "They were vetted and had health certificates."

The investigation into the animal abuse began weeks ago after Hillsborough animal rescue received an anonymous complaint. They made visits to the home and built a case, Ryan said.

Authorities served a warrant early Thursday on the home at 11902 Fort King Highway.

The room where the animals were kept was dimly lit and noisy from all the barking, Ryan said. Very dirty pads used for potty training were on the floor.

After receiving medical treatment, the dogs will have their futures decided in court.

"These animals could easily be placed in homes," said Pam Perry, investigations manager for Animal Services. "A true rescuer with real compassion places those animals and doesn't keep them to themselves."

48 dogs rescued from mobile home in Thonotosassa 03/22/12 [Last modified: Thursday, March 22, 2012 11:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. What do kids need to stay away from deadly auto theft epidemic?

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — More than a dozen black teenagers told U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist on Wednesday that children need stronger mentors and youth programs to steer clear of the auto theft epidemic plaguing Pinellas County.

    Congressman Charlie Crist (center) listens as Shenyah Ruth (right), a junior at Northeast High School, talks during Wednesday's youth roundtable meeting with community leaders and kids. They met to discuss the ongoing car theft epidemic among Pinellas youth and how law enforcement, elected officials, and community organizations can work together to put an end to this dangerous trend. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  3. 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]
  4. 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.
  5. 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]