Investigations

Commissioners blamed for silence on shelter's pet failures

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Adoption screening failures at the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center are fueling outrage within the animal rescue community. Some have even taken to Facebook to call out elected officials, saying county commissioners could care less about the oversights.

"I don't think the B.O.C.C. (Board of County Commissioners) cares about pets," said Amy Howland of Dogma Pet Rescue.

Howland's post shows a dog called Theo who was adopted out of the PRC in October with the understanding that the adopter would take the dog to the vet within 72 hours.  But the PRC failed to follow up and Theo never got the care he needed. He was turned over to a Ruskin animal shelter months later emaciated, blind and close to death.  

"He obviously did not get medical care," said Michelle Rhodarmer, president of the C.A.R.E. shelter in Ruskin. "[He was] pretty much on death's door."

The PRC is also under fire for another case involving a dog named Tiger.  

Tiger's owner, Omar Lopez-Figueroa pushed the dog out of a car in August.  The incident was captured on video. The dog was left lost and alone. 

After the PRC confiscated the dog, he was inadvertently adopted out to Lopez-Figueroa's girlfriend Milagros Caballero in December.  

According to the PRC, Ms. Caballero had a different last name and address than Lopez-Figueroa, so they okayed the adoption.

Target 8 discovered the PRC's own investigative paperwork indicates the car from which Tiger was pushed out was owned by Ms. Caballero who was in the vehicle at the time of the incident. 

"There's absolutely no excuse that she could have walked in there and adopted him," said Rescue Me Tampa's Tamar Barry.

When police arrested Mr. Lopez-Figueroa on arson charges in February, they found Tiger in his backyard.

"It was heartbreaking to watch that dog chase after the car and it's just unfathomable that they gave that dog back to those people," said Ms. Howland. 

Howland's shelter and at least two other rescues think it is time for a change at the Pet Resource Center.  

She claims commissioners routinely ignore phone calls, e-mails and letters about the problems at the facility.

A series of Facebook posts by Dogma Pet Rescue single out commissioners:

"Pat Kemp Doesn't Care."

"Victor Crist Doesn't Care."

"Ken Hagan Doesn't Care."

"Stacy White Doesn't Care," they read.

Four commissioners, Crist, Hagan, White and Sandra Murman face re-election this year.  Amy Howland says the commissioners' silence is deafening. 

"We need change. These commissioners need to be shamed into action or they need to be run out of office," she told News Channel 8.

Her campaign for change is now on several Facebook pages.   

If you have something that you think should be investigated, call our Target 8 Helpline at 1 800 338-0808 or contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.


More Stories

Don't Miss

Trending Stories

Latest News - Local

Video Center