Animals that had supposedly been "saved" from the Hillsborough County Animal Shelter recently were found in miserable conditions behind a St. Petersburg, Florida, home purportedly serving as a wildlife rescue facility, according to BayNews9.
Officials who removed the 51 animals said they were living in filthy crates without food or water.
Most of the animals had microchips which verified they came from Hillsborough County Animal Services and that their care was “outsourced to the wildlife rescue.”
There are no special permits, or licenses or regulatory agency that oversees the rescues, Doug Brightwell, spokesperson for the county's animal services, told BayNews9.
"Anybody can be a rescue and we hope that when people get into it they have the proper facility and space the animals need,” he said.
Marti Ryan, speaking for the County, also confirmed that there is no permit, licensing, or qualifications needed to be an animal “rescue” organization and that such groups or individuals are ”on an honor system.”
The abused and neglected animals at the wildlife rescue are now being cared for and nursed back to health in Pinellas County, where the Animal Services department does perform annual inspections of their rescue outsource groups, BayNews9 reports.
Ryan defended the shelter’s adoption partners by assuring reporters that the majority of the rescues are well-run and reputable.
“The vast majority of our rescues are reputable and well-run by people who really care about saving the lives of animals," Ryan said.
Brightwell says most of the animals are recovering and will probably be available for adoption.
CAN HILLSBOROUGH SHELTER BECOME “NO KILL” BY OUTSOURCING?
In 2012, a new director, Ian Hallett, was hired to manage the Hillsborough shelter, promising that this large, public, open-entry animal shelter (meaning that any animal is accepted regardless of condition) could become “No Kill.”
The next year, on July 3, 2013, Dr. Isabelle Roese resigned as Chief Vet at Hillsborough shelter. Her letter of resignation stated that her 13th year on staff was “unbearable.”
Dr. Roese read parts of her letter to ABC Action News, stating that in regard to the new “No-Kill” policies of Hallett, "The shelter is now overcrowded. The health of the population is declining. The staff has been stretched excessively."
Dr. Roese expressed her dismay over the lack of opportunity to separate newly admitted animals from the general shelter population in order to control the spread of disease, and she was also concerned about “animals with known aggressive behavior” being adopted out.
On July 17, 2013, the County Commission agreed to spend $250,000 in emergency funds to update the shelter, under pressure by the public and rescuers that claimed conditions at the Hillsborough animal shelter were inhumane and in violation of animal-welfare laws.
Ian Hallett was eventually transferred to another department due to complaints, and Scott Trebatoski took over as Hillsborough's newest director. On June 18, 2014, Trebatoski told Fox News reporters that over the past two years the rate of live pets leaving the shelter had increased to roughly 66 percent.
Among the methods he identified for accomplishing this statistic and to keep it going up were, of course, increased adoptions, but also giving animals to foster families and pet-rescue groups.
IS “NO KILL” JUST “SLOW KILL”?
One of the most passionate and powerful voices for humane treatment of animals and opposing painful confinement in a cage or kennel for months or years, is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA.)
In its 2013 post, “No Kill Label Slowly Killing Animals," PETA presents the stories of dozens of failed “no kill” animal rescuers and the suffering of hundreds of unwanted pets that made headlines in recent years —many outsourced from shelters and dying slowly in horrific conditions.
Photo: Provided, WikiCommons