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Hillsborough County shelter gives puppy drug overdose

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) -- It's another controversy fueling mistrust of management at the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center.

The staff accidentally overdosed a 4-month-old puppy.

The incident involving a puppy named Faith happened in June 2016.

Only now is the story coming to light.

The public is getting one version and county commissioners, who are getting calls this month, are also being misled.

In a letter to commissioners this week, Pet Resource Center Director Scott Trebatoski admits a vet tech administered an overdose of pain killers to Faith.

The dog received 10 times the ordered amount of an opioid.

"You would expect, you know, some pretty severe sedation, depression of its respiratory system, lowering of its body temperature," said veterinarian Dr. Ellen Alence.

An email from PRC manager Lori Letzring to a concerned citizen who inquired, stated, "The overdosing of the pain medication was medically reversed with no adverse effects on the puppy."

That's not what PRC records show.

"I'm shocked, the county blatantly lied to them," said Rescue Me Tampa's Tamar Barry.

Disciplinary records for the vet tech who made the mistake show Faith "was unable to regulate her temperature over the next two days and had to be euthanized."

"It is uncertain if the health of the dog declined due to the overdose or an underlying cause."

"She was able to regulate her body temperature before that," added Barry.

Even Scott Trebatoski's letter to commissioners is misleading.

The letter makes it appear Faith had difficulty maintaining her body temperature when she was impounded.

Records show that started after the overdose.

Trebatoski's letter implies Faith was treated for pain and body temperature issues the day she came in to the shelter.

PRC medical records show Faith didn't get pain meds until the next day, when she received 10 times the dose that was ordered.

The PRC has for months, blocked Rescue Me Tampa's requests for medical records on dogs in the county shelter, claiming the files are exempt from disclosure.

Earlier this week we detailed one example after another of PRC handing the exact same records to others while denying Rescue Me Tampa.

"That would be inconsistent with the public records act," said attorney Charlie Carlson. "If it's a public record for one person, it's a public record for all persons."

According to Barry, it is time for a change at the Pet Resource Center.

"We really need new management," she said.

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