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Hillsborough seizes 350 dogs, pushes adoptions to make room

Trish’s All Breeds is effectively shut down, the county’s pet resources director says. A judge barred the owner, a Putnam County man, from having another dog.
Four, six-week old puppies rescued from inadequate breeding conditions, wait to be checked by veterinary staff at the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center. Over 300 small-breed dogs were rescued overall.
Four, six-week old puppies rescued from inadequate breeding conditions, wait to be checked by veterinary staff at the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center. Over 300 small-breed dogs were rescued overall. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
Published Sep. 23, 2019
Updated Sep. 23, 2019

TAMPA — Conditions were so dangerous and dirty at a dog breeding business that Hillsborough County obtained a court order and evacuated some 350 dogs this week into the county’s pet centers.

“This is quite a big operation for us,” said Scott Trebatoski, director of the county Pet Resources Center. “This is like an emergency operation.”

The business, Trish’s All Breed Grooming at 2501 E Diana St., “is effectively shut down," Trebatoski said.

To accommodate so many dogs all at once, the county is waving adoption fees on the estimated 300 dogs already housed at the Pet Resources Center on Falkenburg Road and is working with other animal shelters and rescue groups to help reduce the center’s population.

Chief Veterinarian, Mallory Offner, examines a female puppy rescued from inadequate breeding conditions.
Chief Veterinarian, Mallory Offner, examines a female puppy rescued from inadequate breeding conditions. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]

Managers of private shelters, anticipating the influx of dogs, put out a call on social media for donations of pet toys and blankets.

In addition, during the next few days, the Pet Resources Center will take in dogs only for emergencies.

All 95 employees of the center are on call this week.

At a news conference Monday, Trebatoski said county workers found as many as 30 dogs in cages meant for just one or two at Trish’s All Breeds. Dogs were stained with urine and feces. Some had lost most of their teeth.

One puppy was found dead, a handful are in critical condition and several dozen needed urgent care.

The animal seizure started Monday and will take until mid-week to complete. It is considered one of the largest in Hillsborough County history.

Nearly all of the dogs — mostly small breeds like poodles, Maltese, Shih Tzus and terriers — will be cared for at a county center for animals involved in ongoing investigations. It will be at least 30 days before the dogs that were seized can be adopted, to allow time for an appeal of the action.

In addition to granting custody to Hillsborough County, County Judge Daryl Manning ruled that Trish’s All Breeds’ owner Robert Royers of Crescent City in Putnam County can never possess another dog.

The Tampa Bay Times could not reach Royers for comment.

Vet Tech Supervisor, Lori Penrod, holds a female poodle rescued from inadequate breeding conditions, at the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center.
Vet Tech Supervisor, Lori Penrod, holds a female poodle rescued from inadequate breeding conditions, at the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]

Royers, 69, was charged 20 years ago with five animal-related crimes in Putnam County, court records show: cruelty to animals, selling contagious diseased animals, nuisance injurious to health, failure to have rabies certifications, and sale of an animal without health requirements.

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Prosecutors dropped the charges in March 1998, according to court records.

Royers has been associated with other animal-related businesses, state records show, including Toyland Pet Resort and Trish’s Grooming Service, both of which operated at the Diana Street address in Tampa as well as in Crescent City, and Oakwood Kennels of Pomona Park, also in Putnam County.

Hillsborough Animal Control officers never encountered Royers during repeated visits over several months to Trish’s All Breeds, located in a wooded area in the center of Tampa near Sligh Avenue and 22nd Street.

They dealt only with employees.

The investigation into the business started with complaints from people who had visited the business to buy dogs.