TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — SPCA Tampa Bay appears to be distancing itself from Sunshine Puppies and Pinnacle Pet by putting its partnership with the organizations on pause.
As previously reported by 8 On Your Side, animal advocates raised concerns after the shelter formed a partnership with the Missouri-based breeding broker, which allows it to take in retired breeding dogs.
SPCA Tampa Bay posted, then deleted a video sharing details about the partnership.
CEO Martha Boden said they had taken in 20 retired dogs through the program, all of which have found new homes.
The SPCA also planned to provide veterinary services to the pet store.
“This is a slap in the face of everyone whose done any kind of Florida rescue,” animal advocate Susan Sudra told WFLA.
“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,” Laura Lyons added.
The Humane Society of Tampa Bay also slammed the decision, saying they found public records that show Pinnacle Pet did business with puppy mills that had concerning records when it comes to animal welfare.
“Pet stores that sell purebred puppies—that’s the problem because of how they’re bred and bred, how they’re kept and maintained, it’s a big problem,” said Humane Society of Tampa Bay CEO, Sherry Silk. “I just don’t know how a Humane Society can support that.”
“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 with the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C.
In a Facebook post, Boden and SPCA president Catherine Mitchell announced Friday that the organization had put the partnership on pause.
“We have heard a wide range of perspectives from people through emails, survey responses and conversations,” part of the post said. “We appreciate the constructive feedback and are convinced we have more to learn before we can solidify a program with non-traditional partners. Therefore, we are pausing the pilot program. More research needs to be conducted, more trust needs to be built, and much more work is still to be done.”