Investigations

Hillsborough County payments to euthanize strays in question

TAMPA (WFLA) - Thousands of stray dogs and cats turn up each year at the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center.

In an effort to place them, the Board of County Commissioners agreed to pay between $35 and $90 for every animal the Humane Society of Tampa Bay takes in directly and ultimately places into new homes.

But at a recent Hillsborough County Animal Advisory Committee hearing it became clear that's not all you're paying for.

"My question is, are you charging the county for animals that have been euthanized rather than just the ones that have been adopted out?" asked Animal Advisory Committee member Dr. Christy Layton.

"I can tell you if the animal came to our shelter as a stray and we cared for the animal whether it was placed into a home or euthanized, yes, we would have charged the county," replied Pam Backer of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.

"Even though the contract isn't written that way?" asked Dr. Layton.

"Yes," stated Backer.

According to Pet Resource Center accountant Craig Horner, that's contrary to the county contract.

"We have to look into that. It does not allow euthanasia at all," said Horner. "It's for ultimately a placement into a new home, so if they're being billed for euthanasia that's an issue that we're going to have to look into."

According to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, it took in 2,243 strays last year. It euthanized 285.

Last week, Hillsborough County Assistant County Administrator Dexter Barge assured commissioners the agreement is to pay the Humane Society for strays it takes in directly "regardless of the outcome."

"That's not what they approved, they approved that those animals would go into adoptive homes," insisted Dr. Layton.

According to one commissioner's office, PRC Director Scott Trebatoski will introduce revised language because the contract is vague.

That is a flip-flop from a 2016 Trebatoski email that states: "The contract is written so that if they take a dog or cat and ultimately euthanize it, they are not paid for that transfer."

Payment for the strays euthanized at the Humane Society were authorized by the PRC.

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


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