On June 29, 2018, a stray, female dog showed up outside a home in Plant City, Florida. When resident “Danielle” first saw the dog, she was walking along the fence line trying to come in. Danielle’s boyfriend, Scott was hesitant at first to let her in but could tell she was stressed and injured. When looking at her more closely, they both noticed there were fresh puncture wounds on the dog’s face, mainly near her ears and jaw. There were other puncture wounds and lacerations in various stages of healing on her body along with some older scars.
It was disturbing to see so many injuries on a dog that was only approximately two years old. What was done to her?
These injuries strongly suggested this poor girl may have been used as a bait dog for fighting. In addition to the multiple wounds, the dog’s nails were horribly overgrown, and she appeared to have given birth within the past six months. Equally disturbing as the injuries, was the heavy collar that was placed around her neck. It was thick and heavy and had a two-pound buckle on the end. It was on so tight, it took two people to get it off her. This was not someone’s beloved companion animal; this was a dog who had been abused for a long time and used for breeding.
Danielle and Scott notified the local police to report a case of obvious animal abuse. The police in turn referred them to animal control. Hillsborough County Animal Control did not respond for several hours. During that time Danielle and Scott bonded with the dog whom they named Nina. Nina was very meek and submissive; indicative of a dog who has been abused.
Danielle and Scott were worried about letting her go to animal control, but they wanted to do the right thing and follow protocol and make sure Nina’s abuse was investigated and her wounds assessed and treated by a vet. They also wanted to legally adopt her.The next day, they filed the paperwork to adopt her and assumed she would be coming back home to them after she was spayed and treated for her injuries.
Unfortunately, Hillsborough Animal Pet Resource Center proved to be very lax in their follow through and handling of Nina’s case. They never launched an investigation into her injuries and actually turned Nina back over to her original owners.
Apparently, the original owners showed up looking for her with a photo to prove ownership since there was no tag or chip. They also gave three different versions as to why she had so many wounds on her body. They said it was because she was a hunting dog, the injuries must have happened when the dog ran away (although many were quite old) and third, injuries were already there from a previous owner. Hillsborough still turned her over to them even with all the suspicions and the inconsistent answers as to how Nina was injured.
When Danielle heard of this, she was highly upset. She contacted the supervisor who promised to start an abuse investigation, but that did not happen. When Danielle called again, promises were made to send someone to check on the well being of the dog and her surroundings; that also did not happen. Then another officer promised to go out there, still nothing.
On July 6 2018 Danielle placed another call to Hillsborough County and was told an officer had been dispatched to the house but no one was home. This writer also called Hillsborough County on July 6 and was told the call was dispatched, but there were no updates or information on an outcome.
As the days continue to pass, it is unknown what is happening to Nina. Is she back on a tether? Is she being abused? Are there other dogs on the property also suffering abuse? Is something bigger going on at the home such as dog fighting? No one will know until Hillsborough Animal Pet Resource Center takes this complaint seriously and sends someone out there.
County animal shelters need to vet people more thoroughly before handing a dog or cat over to them. We all know they are inundated daily with unwanted animals coming through their doors and are trying to move animals out quickly to maintain a high number of live releases. However, it is doing a huge disservice to the animal to send them from the shelter into a violent, abusive environment.
Danielle and Scott followed the correct protocol because they wanted to do the right thing for Nina, but the system failed them and Nina miserably. To speak for Nina and urge Hillsborough County to follow through on Nina’s case, please call the shelter at 813-744-5660 and refer to case number 18-092069.
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