TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Following one of the largest dog rescue operations in Hillsborough County’s history, the county shelter is now in desperate need to clear some space.
The Pet Resource Center took in nearly 350 dogs after animal control officers seized them from a breeder in East Tampa, called Trish’s All-Breeds Pet Grooming. The dogs are mostly smaller breeds, like Shih Tzus, terriers and Malteses, many of which have been living in horrible conditions, and are in need of some medical attention.
Before the seizure, the county shelter was already over capacity, and, in order to make some space, they are urging people to adopt or foster the dogs that were already waiting. To get people in the door, they are waiving adoption fees.
Officials said they started their investigation after months of receiving complaints about Trish’s All-Breeds Pet Grooming. They said the breeder’s facility was overcrowded, and the dogs had skin and eye issues. They were also living in their own filth.
“The place isn’t kept up,” explained Roger Mills, Hillsborough County’s Animal Control director. “Animals had urine and feces stains on them. I mean, some of the ones we looked at had hardly any teeth.”
Inside that facility, there were between 20 and 30 dogs in a cage, that should have only had one or two.
"When you went into the buildings it was wall-to-wall animals," said Scott Trebatoski, the Pet Resource Center director. "We don't want people to forget to come in and adopt. Every animal that gets adopted, whether it's a cat or dog, it gives our staff more time to work with the dogs that need socialization."
This isn’t the first time Trish’s All-Breeds Pet Grooming had issues. In fact, officials said they ran into the same problems back in 1999, and 450 animals were removed from that same facility.
Animal control officials said the owner never followed through on improvements, forcing a judge to issue an order for all the dogs to be removed. The owner is not allowed to own or breed them, ever again, according to the ruling.
Animal Control officers said they want to talk to the facility’s owner, but haven’t been able to track him down. The county has an emergency facility that is not open to the public, but is meant to keep animals involved in investigations. For now, that is where most of the breeder dogs will be housed.
“Every time we’ve gone there and conducted investigations, we’ve never made contact with him,” Mills said. “We’ve only made contact with the people working there at the facility.”
None of the new dogs can be adopted until the investigation is complete.