Protesters angry with Hillsborough Co. Animal Services

11:38 PM, Oct 19, 2013   |    comments
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TAMPA, Florida -- The Hillsborough County Animal Services director admits four animals have been accidentally euthanized since November 2012.

Protesters outside of Hillsborough County Animal Services' shelter are angry with the staff's irresponsibility and attitudes. They held up signs on Saturday morning saying 70 percent of cats are killed, while 40 percent of dogs are killed.

Related Story: Two dogs looking for new homes

Those numbers are accurate, according to the shelter's website.

"The shelter is not following their policies," says Terry Lynn Sugar-Robertson. "They euthanize after 48 hours instead of waiting the five days they are supposed to wait, and that does not give rescue groups and those looking to adopt long enough to make a decision and save them! Plus, they are just not paying attention!"

The new Hillsborough County Animal Services director, Ian Hallet, said disciplinary action has been taken for the first two accidental euthanasias. Two employees were let go. After the third incident, the responsible worker resigned. The fourth incident was just two weeks ago. Jo Jo, a Labrador-German Sheppard mix, was spoken for to be adopted and set to be picked up by his new owner.  However, someone accidentally euthanized him.

"In the case of Jo Jo, it was simply a case of failing to follow the procedures," said Hallet.

"Has that person been fired for his or her mistake?" asked 10 News.

Hallet said that person is pending disciplinary action.

Hallet also said with regard to the hold time for each animal, the shelter holds for five days to euthanize for a stray dog or cat, including the day they are brought in.

"We are the voice for the animals," said Sugar-Robertson.

Hallet was hired in June 2012 from a 90 percent adoption success rate shelter out of Texas. He is determined to raise adoption rates.

In his 15 months at the shelter, he said he has extended hours from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. seven days a week. He has also had new identification collars purchased so each pets' information is legible and harder to break off.

He has also had Fire and Rescue approve their euthanasia procedures, and he said after each accidental euthanasia, policies have been adjusted. 

In the last 12 months, the shelter has had 2,600 pets adopted -- 1,500 of those were cats. That is a 10 percent increase in cat adoptions since Hallet started.

"I was the director of the largest open municipal shelter in the U.S. and probably the world, and that they want to allege that I want to kill the animals here. It just doesn't make sense," he said.

Hallet has also adopted a dog from a shelter. He has an African breed of dog named Oliver. 

"I know how important it is to get these dogs and cats adopted," said Hallet.

Protesters agree with that but still see him as failing to do his job.

"Do your job, Ian Hallet," said Sugar-Roberston. "Stop blaming your irresponsible staff and making excuses."

Records of the number of animals dropped off, adopted, and euthanized are listed on the Hillsborough County Animal Services' website:

http://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/index.aspx?nid=2895

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