1. News
  2. /
  3. Hillsborough

Thousands apply for Hillsborough lottery to adopt ’the most playful little dogs’

Officials rescued more than 300 dogs from a puppy mill in September.
Hillsborough County Director of Pet Resources Scott Trebatoski holds a rescue puppy as a line forms to apply to adopt one of 300 dogs rescued from a puppy mill in September. [Hillsborough County]
Published Nov. 11
Updated Nov. 11

In just days, more than 300 rescue dogs who SIT! and STAY! in Hillsborough County facilities will finally be able to COME! home.

Officials seized the dogs — mostly small breeds like poodle mixes, Shih Tzus and terriers — from a dangerous puppy mill in Tampa in September.

Prospective puppy families jumped at the chance to adopt one, flooding the county’s pet resource center with questions. By the time people could apply in person at the All People’s Life Center for an adoption lottery on Sunday, a high turnout was expected.

County spokesman Todd Pratt arrived at 5:30 in the morning to find a long line.

“I bet you by the time it opens there’s a minimum of 100 people in line,” he told a woman waiting. In fact, there were 200.

By the end of the day, some 3,000 people visited the facility to fill out forms and play with the few dogs that were there. Staff wanted to show typical examples of the rescued puppies, like a small poodle mix, said Scott Trebatoski, director of pet resources.

Even the largest adult dog in the set weighed no more than 15 pounds or so, he said.

“All in all, it’s going to be cute little dogs.”

As a result of the high demand, and because county officials wanted to discourage people from re-selling the dogs, they charged a higher fee than normal: $450 for puppies younger than 6 months old, $300 for the rest.

Forms asked for applicants’ name and address (Hillsborough residents received a discount on the fee) and screened for recent convictions of animal cruelty or neglect. Applicants could choose whether they would adopt any dog or “puppy only.”

More than 1,300 households applied by the end of the day, Trebatoski said. That means that, if approved, each household would have about a one-in-four shot at adopting a dog.

They’ll find out this week, as the county plans to draw the names Thursday morning. Winners will get an email. The center will make another offer to every one else: half-off an adoption fee if they choose to adopt one of its other pets, Trebatoski said.

The director said the interest in the puppy mill rescues also spurred people to adopt other dogs.

“We actually had some people who decided not to sign up for the lottery because they thought they were going to be bigger dogs,” he said.

He said this set of lottery dogs adapted to being around people more quickly than expected. Owners should keep in mind that they may be very social and can even become clingy because of their separation anxiety.

“They were the most playful little dogs.”


  1. An undated photo of an inmate pod at the Falkenburg Road Jail in Hillsborough County. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office] Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
    Marcus Anderson, 33, collapsed Dec. 1 at the Falkenburg Road Jail. He died six days later.
  2. A Brinks security guard and a Good Samaritan who came to his aid were shot during a robbery attempt at GTE Financial credit union in Brandon on Friday. Tony Marrero, Times Staff
    The search continued into the evening Saturday for the shooter, who is believed to be a serial bank robber.
  3. Lawanda Ravoira, DPA, president & CEO, Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, said girls are subject to an alarming rate of violence and bullying and are not getting the help they need from counseling and other social services. CHRISTOPHER O'DONNELL  |  Times
    Leader of Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center comes to Tampa to warn of “unchecked crisis” of violence and victimization of middle and high school girls.
  4. A huge number of homes owned by Baby Boomers will sell in the next 20 years. How will the trend affect the Florida housing market? CAMERON GILLIE  |  NAPLES DAILY NEWS
    The enormous generation born between 1946 and 1964 owns about 40 percent of the homes across the country.
  5. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    The motorcycle was headed south on Dale Mabry, while the northbound bus was making a turn.
  6. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    The shooting happened on the 1600 block of E North Bay Street.
  7. Leroy Jarreau King, a 36-year-old Hillsborough school security guard assigned to Mango Elementary in Seffner, was arrested on Dec. 6, 2019 and charged with giving false information to a pawn broker after investigators learned he'd pawned his district-issued Glock pistol six times, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
    Leroy King said he pawned his gun six times because he was facing financial difficulties, deputies said.
  8. "Lefty Lucy, Righty Tighty?", Siomara Bridges-Mata, 32, asks her coworkers as they assemble one of 900 bikes Friday when Amalie Arena transformed into Santa's Bike Shop. Bridges-Mata volunteered with Frameworks of Tampa Bay, Inc. JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Times
    Local nonprofit Onbikes organizes the annual bike build to provide bicycles to kids in the community
  9. Mayor Rick Kriseman on Wednesday said he will not allow the Tampa Bay Rays to explore splitting their season between the Tampa Bay area and Montreal prior to the 2027 expiration of the team's lease of Tropicana Field. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    Politicians on both sides of the bay weigh in on St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s decision to cease talks with the team.
  10. Tampa police say the suspect who struck 58-year-old Denorris Singleton in the head with a baseball bat during a dispute on N 29th Street in East Tampa on Nov. 23 fled the scene in this white sedan. Singleton died from his injuries six days later. Tampa Police Department
    Denorris Singleton, 58, died six days after he was struck, police said.