Volunteers at county shelter begging for access to pet information to save them


Rescue Me Tampa (RMT) is a group that for years has been aggressively promoting and publicizing the dogs at the Hillsborough County Pet Resource Center in Tampa, Florida, in hopes of getting them adopted or pulled by rescue before their time is up. And they’ve been very successful.

The shelter management worked with the group, giving them a volunteer login to the computer system. This allowed the volunteers in the group to access medical information, notes from playgroups, owner surrender comments, and other information vital to networking a dog. In fact, the shelter would provide RMT with a list of the dogs who were likely to be euthanized the next day unless they were pulled or adopted before their kennel was needed. RMT would then go into action, posting pictures of those dogs, including their medical information, their personality, their playgroup information and any other information that the shelter had — information that potential adopters or rescues needed before committing to a dog. Often, because of that posting, the shelter would receive that all-important email stating that the at-risk dog now had someone committing to adopting or pulling that dog. A life saved.

In 2013, the board of county commissioners passed the “Be the Way Home” plan. Under the “Technology” heading, the plan states: “Hosted Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 7.00.29 AMsoftware allows employees and volunteers to use it on any device and in any place with internet access. They only need log-ins to the shelter website which can be customized to allow access only to information for which the person has permission to access. This functionality is critical to remote operations like off-site adoptions or customer assistance in the kennel areas of the shelter. However, as in the current system, varying levels of security access for staff and volunteers will protect sensitive data.” In spite of this county plan, the shelter is now claiming that they can’t provide the volunteers with any access — even restricted access — to the program. The offered nightly reports instead. The volunteers say that they would be happy with the reports the shelter provides — so long as they get complete and correct information (like weight and medical information and which dogs are actually still alive).

In fact, these volunteers go to the shelter every day and photograph the dogs, spending precious time with each dog so that the dogs get some loving attention. In the summer, they sweat in the hot, humid kennels that lack not only air-conditioning but efficient fans. They are dedicated and passionate, but they are struggling to effectively network the urgent dogs because of the current lack of information from the shelter.

In December of last year (2015), when software changes were discussed, the shelter promised RMT that they would be given volunteer access to the new program. RMT volunteers state that at several different times and during at least one meeting they were told that they would have volunteer access to the new system. But when the shelter changed their computer program in April, the director, Scott Trebatoski, changed his mind. When June went by with no access to the computer program, the volunteers met again with not only Trebatoski, but county leaders. During that meeting they agreed on information that would be included in nightly reports that would be sent from the shelter. That has not happened. There are nightly reports, but they are often inaccurate, missing dogs, or lacking vital information.

The shelter claims that they provide the information through the public access documents they share. But looking at a “Pre-Euth Report” one can see that there is minimal information about the animals on the list to be euthanized. The pictures are terrible and there is no indication as to a dog’s weight. Without a weight, and with the poor quality pictures on the report, there is no way to tell the size of a dog. Hardly the information that is needed to effectively network dogs. Information about playgroup, medical notes, temperament notes — all that information is sorely lacking in this report. The volunteers also claim that they get pleas from the shelter about dogs to be euthanized if an email is not sent to the shelter by 9:00 am the next morning. The problem is that some of these dogs are not off their stray hold, and other dogs don’t appear anywhere in the shelter’s reports.

What is especially concerning about the dogs missing from the kennel reports is that when those dogs end up the subject of an urgent rescue plea from the shelter because they are on the euthanasia list for the next day, RMT doesn’t have the information they need to really network those dogs. And if they email the shelter asking for more time for those dogs — because they didn’t have the information they needed to network the dog, the shelter refuses.

The fact is that RMT can’t successfully network dogs without information about the dogs, including whether they are urgent — meaning that they are on the list of dogs who will be euthanized when their kennel is needed. When the shelter fails to update their public page, RMT doesn’t even know which dogs are still alive and which ones were killed.

In a recent Facebook post, RMT wrote:

Village! We are beyond frustrated and above all else we are sad and sick for the animals. They deserve better. We have been battling with lack of information for the last 3 months and it is not any better. Everyday we spend hours emailing for information. Information we were provided with for years. We do not know what dogs are dead, alive or need help. We need help. Tonight we did not receive any reports or information. If you want to email on behalf of the animals and ask for the reports and access to be restored here are the email addresses. We apologize for not updating the dogs this evening. ☹️

 All the volunteers at Rescue Me Tampa want is the information that for years they had been provided with. Their goal? To save as many dogs as possible.
 The shelter says they want to improve their save rate. But for some strange reason, they refuse to help RMT continue their promotion and networking of shelter dogs by providing them with the information they need.
And in Tampa? The dogs are counting on the volunteers.
(Please note: The photo is of Brenda, a dog in Tampa waiting for a home. According to the volunteers who have met her, the thinks she is a lap dog. Brenda is sweet and loving. She is short, walks beautifully on a leash, and is very friendly. Her cherry eye will be repaired at the shelter before adoption. Brenda is listed as a three-year-old terrier mix. She is heartworm negative. Brenda’s ID# is A1650219. There is more information on her Facebook thread

3 thoughts on “Volunteers at county shelter begging for access to pet information to save them

  1. Things are worse than ever at the new shelter. They keep animals offsite now. I understand they’re still using the old shelter to store overstock. When a friend of mine went to adopt a dog they told her that the dog wasn’t there on the premises but that the dog was off site. Also there is video evidence that Miami Dade animal services is dumping dogs in the Redlands and the rock pit area and all over Miami Dade.

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Sarah, actually this article is about the county shelter in Tampa. If there is video evidence that the shelter is dumping dogs, I’d be interested in seeing it. They have stated that they have rescues over a thousand dogs from Redland.


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