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"Unadoptable' dog wins a reprieve

He's one of those dogs that probably wasn't meant for Florida _ cute and cuddly, but allergic to fleas.

He scratched and he scratched. In some places, he scratched himself raw.

But when Betty Hay learned the little red Pomeranian had been labeled "unadoptable" by the county Animal Services department and soon would be destroyed, she rebelled.

"I don't think a dog should have to die because he has hair missing," said Mrs. Hay, an animal welfare advocate. "This animal is gorgeous."

So she called Hillsborough County commissioners and the county administrator's office. And she won a stay of execution for the yet-unnamed dog.

County Administrator Fred Karl ordered Animal Services not to euthanize the dog until a final decision is made, county spokesman Mike Foerster said Tuesday. Later in the day, Animal Services director Rebeckah Sanchez said Mrs. Hay can come to the Brandon shelter and apply to adopt the dog.

Mrs. Hay said she will do so today.

The flap illustrates the tough calls Animal Services must make in its efforts to find suitable homes for the county's tens of thousands of neglected animals. Hoping to avoid having adopted animals returned to the shelter, the department has a new policy against letting people adopt animals with health or behavior problems, Foerster said.

Mrs. Hay said she does not disagree entirely with the Animal Services policy if it pertains to a serious or contagious health problem.

But not a simple flea allergy.

"I have allergies myself," she said. "I need two shots a week for my allergies. . . . I'm allergic to dogs and cats."