Last fall, Hillsborough County animal control officers rescued hundreds of dogs being kept in deplorable conditions by a local breeder. More than 300 of the Diana Street Dogs, as they came to be known, found new homes on November 17, 2019 in a mass adoption event that was so popular, tickets were distributed through a lottery system.
“We had a huge adoption event and were so lucky to have great adopters,” said Scott Trebatoski, director of Hillsborough County Pet Resources. “Some of these adopters have to live through challenges and also costs they might not have expected, but the dogs have all benefited greatly.”
More than a dozen dogs and their owners gathered in small playgroups at the Pet Resource Center at 10 a.m. on November 17 to take pictures, make new memories and celebrate the dramatic changes in the dogs’ lives. To maintain social distancing, the owners and their dogs met each other in several outdoor fenced play areas.
“This group of adopters has always had a special bond with dedicated Facebook pages and other information sharing,” Trebatoski said. “Additionally, we committed to having an annual review of the dogs and adopters. Rather than making it an ugly bureaucratic system and sending officers out to check on the pets, we did it virtually, asking for photos and stories. Our communications with the adopters led us to decide to allow for a mini reunion so we could celebrate the success and share an update with the world that followed their case from the puppy mill. We intend on having a full-scale reunion every year once pandemic restrictions are lifted.”
Dogs that lived their entire life packed into kennels for the sole purpose of breeding them are rarely social and have not learned ‘normal behavior.’
“Through the dedication of our team at Pet Resources and the wonderful volunteers, we were able to work individually with these 350-plus [dogs] to get them to love to interact with people and to at least begin to understand housetraining and other skills,” Trebatoski said. “The result was an amazing transformation even those of us who have worked long careers in this industry never expected.”
To learn more about the pets available at the Pet Resource Center, visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org/en/residents/animals-and-pets. The center is located at 440 N. Falkenburg Rd. in Tampa.