Staff Report

A number of Hillsborough County animal advocacy organizations are stepping forward as a coalition to support all the positive changes that have occurred at Hillsborough County Animal Services since the management change occurred a little over a year and a half ago. The coalition includes two of the most influential animal organizations in Hillsborough County: the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and the Animal Coalition of Tampa, which together are responsible for spaying and neutering over 22,000 animals over the past year and over 300,000 since the clinics opened.

Speaking for the coalition, John Marinello of the Alliance to Save 90 explained, “It was clear to all of us that for all the many positive changes that have occurred at our shelter since our county decided to move in a new direction to save more of our homeless animals, a number of news stories that were based on misleading information made it appear that life for our animals at the shelter was actually getting worse, not better.”

The group decided to come forward to set the record straight about all the good that has occurred at the shelter in the last year, including expanding the hours the shelter is open and most importantly saving over 2,000 more animals this year than ever before. Are there issues that occur with trying to make dramatic changes to increase the save rate? Of course, but to hear some people attack the shelter and demand we return to the “good old days” – or, as one ill- informed person called it, “…the golden years of the shelter when it was respected by communities everywhere” – we need to remind everyone what those years were really like. It meant saving only 20% of the 190,000 animals that went into the shelter in the past seven years. The sad part was, that was happening when other communities were saving a minimum of 50-70% and some as much as 90%.

Where was the outrage then? Not just by the community, but also by the Animal Advisory Committee, which was created to keep our Commissioners informed of the long-term issues that affect our shelter; or the Hillsborough Animal Health Foundation (the education arm of the Hillsborough County Veterinary Medical Association), which only recently expressed concern about what the shelter is doing.

This coalition is committed to doing all they can to make a positive difference and will work with the shelter director and management in every way possible to help our county achieve a better outcome for our homeless friends.

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