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Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Hillsborough shelter probing dog death

TAMPA — A veterinarian at Hillsborough County’s animal shelter remained on administrative leave Tuesday while managers investigated whether the vet was responsible for the death of a female dog and its puppy.

The county was not releasing the name of the veterinarian Tuesday because the investigation had not concluded, said Ron Spiller, managing director of the Department of Code Enforcement and Pet Resources. The vet had worked for the county less than a year.

Spiller said county animal control officers picked up a stray female dog on Saturday afternoon. One of the officers told a veterinary technician that the dog was distressed. The tech passed the information along to the veterinarian, who did nothing, Spiller said.

Shelter workers found a dead puppy the next morning, and the mother had been bleeding heavily.

“Based on the bleeding and the poor condition, the dog needed to be put down,” Spiller said.

Pet Resources, formally known as Animal Services, has been plagued with problems for nearly two years. The former director, Ian Hallett, was forced out in September because of continuing problems, including disease outbreaks at the shelter and the unnecessary euthanasia of at least four dogs since November 2012.

The new director, Scott Trebatoski, told county commissioners April 2 he was making progress reorganizing the department but that employees needed to be trained in better customer service. Trebatoski told commissioners the department’s first duty was public safety and that a close second was saving the lives of as many animals as possible.

Trebatoski referred questions to his managing director, Spiller.

“I can say it’s very disappointing because every day at the shelter we’re working to move it forward with all the things Scott addressed at the county commission meeting,” Spiller said. “The thing to remember here is it was brought to management’s attention by an employee.

“There was no concealment of mistakes,” Spiller said. “We found out about it and responded to it very quickly.”

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