LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) — Animal advocates nationwide are concerned as SPCA Tampa Bay has entered a partnership with dog breeders and pet stores.
It’s called “For All the Dogs Partnership,” and it’s a pilot program that allows SPCA to take in retired breeding dogs through Pinnacle Pet, a business that connects dog breeders with pet stores.
“What we’re doing is taking one or two a week if we do it, if our other community needs don’t suggest that it’s not a good week to do it,” said SPCA Tampa Bay CEO Martha Boden.
Through the pilot program, SPCA Tampa Bay leaders say not only will they help rehome the retired dogs, but the non-profit will also provide veterinary services to a Tampa Bay-area retailer, Sunshine Puppies.
SPCA has taken in 20 dogs through the partnership since May, and Boden shares all of those animals were adopted.
Animal advocates across the Bay area told 8 On Your Side they’re disappointed in the partnership.
“This is a slap in the face of everyone whose done any kind of Florida rescue,” said Susan Sudra, an animal advocate.
“By offering to take in whether it’s adult dogs or imperfect puppies or whatever, you’re still affiliating yourself with these groups and it reads as an endorsement,” said Laura Lyons, an animal advocate.
The Humane Society of the United States is also in disagreement with the animal shelter’s partnership. Organization leaders say they sent SPCA Tampa Bay public records that show Pinnacle Pet purchased puppies from puppy mills with concerning animal welfare records.
“They are indisputably connected to the very cruel puppy mill industry, and we follow this sort of puppy mill to pet store pipeline very closely and to see a shelter place themselves between that pipeline is very unfortunate,” said Amy Jesse of The Humane Society of the United States.
SPCA Director Martha Boden shared she and her staff took several trips to Pinnacle Pet headquarters and did their own research before entering the partnership.
“There may be some breeders out there that aren’t doing good work, but if we can support the process of improving, that’s a huge impact that we can have right now on those animals that are coming into Pinellas County,” Boden said.
The President of the Florida Association of Animal Welfare Organizations, Sherry Silk, told 8 On Your Side that she asked SPCA CEO Martha Boden to resign from the board following news of the partnership.
Boden resigned as an FAAWO board member on Friday after more than 10 years with the organization.
SPCA leaders said they welcome opinions about the pilot program. People interested in sharing their input can do so here.