Advertisement
  1. News

Kill rate in Hillsborough animal shelters down substantially, officials say

Hillsborough Pet Resources chief Scott Trebatoski attributes the decline in animal euthanasias to better county practices, coupled with a national decline in animals headed to shelters. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
Hillsborough Pet Resources chief Scott Trebatoski attributes the decline in animal euthanasias to better county practices, coupled with a national decline in animals headed to shelters. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
Published May 19, 2016

TAMPA — Four years ago, before a drastic and dramatic shift toward so-called "no-kill" practices, nearly two-thirds of the dogs and cats that came into Hillsborough County's Animal Services Department were euthanized.

That rate is now down to about 11 percent, the department said Wednesday. And it means that Hillsborough is close to reaching its goal of saving nine of every 10 animals it takes in.

"That is unprecedented in the short period of time you guys have been able to help us achieve that," department head Scott Trebatoski told Hillsborough County commissioners. "Everybody in this community — our partners, the veterinarians, other shelters, rescues and every citizen — should be proud of the role they played in achieving that."

Getting here has not been easy, or without controversy.

In 2012, with some animal activists complaining about the high rate of dogs and cats euthanized by the county shelter, then-department director Dennis McCullough was pushed out (officially, he resigned) and the county shifted toward no-kill policies.

But local veterinarians maligned the loss of a popular leader and questioned the change in practice. They noted that the county had already seen a considerable climb in the rate of dogs and cats leaving the shelter alive, and they worried that no-kill policies could lead to animals being turned away.

During the next year and a half, McCullough's replacement, Ian Hallet, succeeded in increasing adoptions and lowering the kill rate. But the county shelter also struggled with complaints of botched euthanasias, diseased animals and a spate of partner complaints and staff resignations. Hallet was reassigned to a different department in 2013.

Since then, the county has rebranded the animal division into the Pet Resources Department, and refocused on community outreach and service. The department put in place more aggressive practices aimed at managing the stray and feral cat population by catching, neutering and re-releasing them. It has led to a major reduction in kittens coming into local shelters.

In fiscal year 2012, 7,340 of 20,031 animals that came through the Hillsborough shelter left alive. Last year, adoptions and live outcomes were up to 12,833 out of 15,434.

Trebatoski said the steep decline in pets coming through the shelter is not the result of the county accepting fewer pets. Service and intake hours, he said, have been expanded.

He attributed the decline to better county practices, coupled with a national decline in animals headed to shelters.

Commissioners on Wednesday gave a vote of confidence to the Pet Resources Department's new direction. They voted 6-0 to expand some of the existing spay and neuter programs for dogs and stray cats and added four animal control officers for neighborhood education and investigating abuse.

"While I am thrilled with the result, it is imperative that we continue to improve operations and identify opportunities to better serve the public," Commissioner Ken Hagan said.

"We've come a long way," he said. "Relationships, education, they have improved with the animal service community. But there's still room for improvement."

Times senior news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Steve Contorno at scontorno@tampabay.com. Follow @scontorno.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

  1. A section of the Robles Park Village public housing complex was built on top the forgotten Zion Cemetery.
  2. Tampa Fire Rescue units arrived at 1011 E 23rd Ave. and put out the fire that consumed this two-story house. The fire was started by a man who trapped himself inside, officials said, and later died of his injuries.
  3. Violinists, Patricia Quintero, RubŽn Rengel, Alex Gonzalez and Emilia Mettenbrink, with the Sphinx Virtuosi orchestra from Detroit, perform at the Carter G. Woodson African-American Museum Thursday/
  4. Tampa City Council chairman Luis Viera said Mayor Jane Castor's decision to add a second ambulance to Station 13 in North Tampa will improve emergency services for his constituents.
  5. A rendering of the new Ulta created by Hennon Group Architects and included in the permits for the building filed with the City of Tampa.
  6. New Orleans-based Dat Dog offers exotic sausages like alligator, duck and crawfish, along with multiple vegan options and more than 30 toppings. The chain is seeking franchisees to bring a location to Tampa Bay.
  7. Debbie and her husband Michael, of Parkersburg, West Virginia, fish from the Dunedin Causeway Thursday. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission extended the period of catch and release for several species of fish along the west coast of Florida.
  8. Shirley Elizabeth Rayner, 52, of Tarpon Springs, is facing a charge of elderly exploitation. Deputies say she forged or altered checks belonging to a 97-year-old woman she was hired to help.
  9. James S. Moody III was appointed in January as a Hillsborough County Judge. He is the son of federal judge James S. Moody Jr. and the brother of Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. [Photo courtesy of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court]
  10. A rendering of the downtown Sarasota building that holds the office of Retirement Wealth Specialists.
  11. Michael Keetley is brought into the courtroom during his murder trial Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020 in Tampa. Keetley is the former ice cream truck driver who is accused of shooting a group of men in 2010.
  12. The Oaks Estate, a mansion owned by Lazydays RV co-founder Donald Wallace and his wife Erika. The property is a French-Normandy country-style gated manor build on Lake Thonotosassa listed on the market with an asking price of $17.5 million. It includes a main house, 2-story guest house, garage for up to 20 cars, workshop, pool house, gatehouse, horse barn with grazing pasture, indoor and outdoor pools, 2-story boat house, go-cart track, bowling alley and jogging trail pictured on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020 in Thonotosassa.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement