Target 8: Dogs, cats found dead in kennels at Hillsborough County shelter

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) - Waiting for adoption, four dogs died in their kennels in June at the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center. Five cats were also discovered dead.

So far during the month of July, five more cats were found dead in their cages at P.R.C.

The county is not alarmed.

Trainer Victoria Parker is.

She contacted Target 8 via Facebook when she learned several dogs were found dead in their kennels.

"This is an extremely upsetting phenomenon that is happening at a seemingly unprecedented rate," she wrote.

According to P.R.C. records, first it was a dog named Dallas, an 11-month-old pit bull found dead.

Six days later, Marci, another pit bull, was found dead in an adjacent kennel.

On June 22, a black and white dachshund mix, the next day another pit bull found dead in its kennel.

Target 8 took Parker's concerns to Hillsborough County Deputy County Administrator Gregory Horwedel, because four dogs dying in their kennels in one month sounds like a lot.

"So unfortunately, when you have animals in a kennel that are brought in and are already hurt and injured, sometimes adverse reactions occur," stated Horwedel.

Records show Marci was spayed on June 19th. She crashed, was placed on a ventilator and recovered uneventfully.

The next day she was found dead.

"You're going to have those unforeseen circumstances when things occur," said Horwedel. "I mean investigate why it occurred and then you take steps if necessary to correct the problem."

A review of P.R.C. kennel reports show in June, five cats were found dead in their cages. So far this month, five more were found dead.

Does that sound like a lot of dead cats?

"No, it doesn't, because we routinely see about 20 to 30 a year," said Horwedel.

The P.R.C.'s death rate in the kennel is less than one percent and Horwedel does not believe these incidents are related.

"I can't think of a definitive reason other than it's, we're picking up more animals and it's the luck of the draw who we pick up," he said.

Two of those dogs died from complications to surgery. Another died from spleen cancer and the fourth appears to have bled out. The county isn't sure why, as the necropsy was inconclusive.

Parker also wanted to know with all the money spent on P.R.C. renovations, why the kennels are not climate controlled?

Horwedel claims air conditioning the kennels was not considered when the building was constructed 20 years ago. He states that retrofitting it now is cost prohibitive. He also says none of the deaths are heat related.

If you have a problem that you think should be investigated, call our Target 8 Helpline at 1-800-338-0808. Contact steve Andrews at

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