Hillsborough County euthanizes wrong dog, records reflect no error

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) — Hillsborough County’s Pet Resource Center made a big mistake with a young American Staffordshire Terrier.

On October 5, an employee at the P.R.C. goofed. She made a mistake and she euthanized a dog named Loki.

But P.R.C. records tell only part of the story.

Loki was in and out of the Pet Resource Center shelter. Adopted, returned, readopted, and then in September, he came back as a stray.

In October, Loki just disappeared from kennel reports.

That seemed strange to Rescue Me Tampa’s Tamar Barry.

“They should be on our kennel report so that we can see notes about them because we help these dogs, we help them get out and we need information to do that,” Ms. Barry said.

So she asked P.R.C. director Scott Trebatoski what was up.

“And they let us know he had been euthanized,” explained Ms. Barry.

In an email, Scott Trebatoski admits the dog was euthanized on October 5. But due to an error, it wasn’t entered into the computer until October 6.

“Why was this dog euthanized?” asked Ms. Barry. “They never replied to that.”

When P.R.C. euthanizes a dog, it states a reason, like “unprovoked bite.”

Nothing showed up for Loki. So Rescue Me Tampa requested all of the dog’s records.

“They never sent the complete records, they withheld what they didn’t want us to see,” stated Ms. Barry.

And what didn’t they want her to know?

It’s right in the disciplinary record of P.R.C.’s former employee Christa Lepisto. The file states she failed to follow procedure and as a result, Loki was euthanized in error.

“I’ve learned that when the county acts like they’re hiding something, they usually are,” said Ms. Barry.

P.R.C. didn’t put Loki up for adoption, killed him prematurely, then failed to disclose, when asked, that the agency made a mistake.

“There should be nothing that can’t be seen when a dog is euthanized by our tax dollars,” added Ms. Barry.

P.R.C. director Scott Trebatoski issued the following statement:

As the only open-admission shelter in Hillsborough County, the Pet Resource Center takes in approximately 20,000 dogs and cats every year. Even though Pet Resources established a best-practice protocol with multiple checks-and-balances to reduce the likelihood of errors, the dog was euthanized in error. Immediately, corrective action was taken with the employees involved. A post-incident assessment was done to determine how this incident occurred. Policies and protocols were assessed and revised with updated procedures now in place.”

He did not address whether P.R.C. withheld public records.

“There should be no reason the county is withholding public records,” Ms. Barry said. “Those records belong to the citizens, not to the county employees that are hired to manage them.”

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