LARGO, Fla (WFLA) — A pilot program that connects SPCA Tampa Bay to a national dog breeder distributor and a pet store has sparked concerns amongst animal advocates nationwide.
In a since-deleted social media video, SPCA Tampa Bay CEO Martha Boden shared details on the “For All Dogs Partnership.”
“This vision of this program is that it will be ok to say and even celebrate to say, ‘I got my dog through a breeder from a shelter,” Boden said.
As previously reported by 8 On Your Side, the pilot program connects SPCA with national pet wholesaler, Pinnacle Pet and Bay-area retailer Sunshine Puppies.
“We can help breeders by starting to build some trust with the sheltering community by saying, ‘you have dogs you need to retire; we don’t want you keeping them on your property, let’s get them through an adoption program,” Boden said.
Humane Society of Tampa Bay CEO, Sherry Silk, said news of the partnership was shocking.
“Pet stores that sell pure-bred puppies that’s the problem because of how they’re bred and bred, how they’re kept and maintained, it’s a big problem,” Silk said. “I just don’t know how a humane society can support that,” she added.
Organizations that work to help animals nationwide have released statements criticizing SPCA Tampa Bay’s new partnership, including the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, the Florida Association of Animal Welfare Organizations, Best Friends Animal Society, the Humane Society of Pinellas, and several others.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) sent 8 On Your Side the following statement about the partnership:
“Florida animal shelters are facing a crisis mirrored nationwide as more animals are coming into shelters than are leaving and multiple factors converging to impact shelters’ capacity for care, including staffing and veterinarian shortages. Instead of propping up the multimillion-dollar pet industry, which contributes to the pet overpopulation crisis and is built on the mass buying, breeding, and selling of puppies, the Florida animal welfare community and our allies must come together to advocate for deeper investments to meet the enormous needs of shelter animals and stop the flow of cruelly bred puppies into Florida from out-of-state puppy mills. Scores of local governments across the Sunshine State have already passed laws to end the retail sale of dogs in pet stores, and it’s time for state lawmakers to shut down Florida’s puppy mill pipeline once and for all,” said Jennifer Hobgood ASPCA Senior Director of State Legislation for the Southern Division.
Animal advocates have also started a petition online requesting a change in leadership at SPCA Tampa Bay.
“I think she does need to step down, and I think we need new leadership that has animal welfare at the forefront,” said Aja-Nikiya Estro, an animal advocate.
SPCA Tampa Bay encourages the public to share their input on the pilot program through an online survey.