TAMPA — Hillsborough County’s Pet Resources department has been hounded ever since it announced that hundreds of fluffy puppies rescued from a breeder would soon be made available for adoption.
Now that the required 30-day hold on the animals is up, the County Commission approved a measure paving the way for the mass adoption and Pet Resources Director Scott Trebatoski announced that each of the dogs rescued from Trish’s All Breeds Pet Grooming in Tampa will have its day.
The animals have been in the county’s care since they were taken from the Tampa puppy mill, operating out of a home at 2501 E Diana Street. Not all survived the decrepit living conditions, with rows of single-animal crates packed with 20 to 30 puppies each.
But an estimated 250 “Diana Street Dogs” have been deemed healthy enough to go home with new owners. They’ll be available Nov. 17.
The remaining 70 animals have long-term medical needs, are still recovering from serious health conditions, or are nursing or pregnant mothers, Trebatoski said. These animals will continue to receive care at private rescue organizations.
All the animals will be microchipped, vaccinated, registered and spayed or neutered by the county.
County investigators are working with prosecutors the State Attorney’s office to determine whether to pursue criminal charges against Trish’s All Breeds owner Robert Royers, operations manager Alice Holt, and three other employees. Meantime, Hillsborough County Animal Control has asked a county judge to permanently ban the five defendants from owning or keeping another animal in their custody again.
The overwhelming interest in adopting the pups — mostly small breeds like poodles, Maltese, Shih Tzus and terriers — created challenges for Trebatoski and his staff.
"When we first rescued the puppies in September, we were probably getting upwards of 700 calls a day from people asking about adoption,” Trebatoski told the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s slowed down since we haven’t been sharing any details at all, but I suspect it’s going to pick back up again tomorrow.”
The staff worked to prevent a Black Friday-like run on the puppies once they become available and to guard against people adopting them to resell at a profit, he said. One deterrent: A heftier price tag, in some cases nearly three times the average $120 price for county shelter dogs.
Commissioners approved a $450 adoption fee for puppies under 6 months old and a $300 adoption fee for the rest. The price includes pet registration and tag fees. Hillsborough County residents will receive a $50 discount in hopes of keeping as many dogs in the community as possible.
Pet Resources has also developed a special adoption process to ensure each animal gets adopted by a loving “furever” home. Anyone wanting to adopt a Diana Street Dog must apply in person 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the All People’s Life Center, at 6105 E. Sligh Ave.
County staff will review with each applicant the potential medical and social challenges associated with rescue dogs. Valid identification is required and a background check will be run. Applicants also must sign a contract agreeing not to sell the animal for at least three years and to allow home inspections. Violating the agreement carries a $500 penalty.
One application per household will be accepted. Applicants will be placed in a lottery and selections will be made later next week so there’s no advantage to lining up early on application day Sunday.
Those selected will receive an appointment time to come select their pet on adoption day, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 17, also at the All People’s Life Center.
More information is at hillsboroughcounty.org, click the “Visit Newsroom” link and search archives; the Hillsborough County customer service line at (813) 272-5900; and the Pet Resource Center Facebook page.