Tampa, FL -- Hillsborough County Animal Services denies it's in the middle of deadly Parvo outbreak. Instead they say, the shelter is suffering from a smear campaign from people who disagree with the direction they've taken the facility in recent months.
County officials say it's not Parvo, but rather people, that are plaguing animal services. People who don't like the county's decision to take the shelter in the direction of a no-kill facility.
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But critics say it's not true. They say the facility has serious management issues, and the animals are the ones suffering.
10 News obtained heartbreaking images of Ribbons, a kitten adopted by Carleen Werme three weeks ago from the Hillsborough shelter.
The kitten suffered for three days before succumbing to respiratory problems.
"He was dying in my arms. Horrible. It was horrible," said Werme.
Werme and others who've watched their animals suffer the same sad fate, blame shelter officials for not providing adequate medical treatment, and not warning the public about several recent, deadly cases of Parvo. More than a dozen in the past month.
"There is no outbreak," insisted Ian Hallett during a news conference Wednesday in Tampa. In fact, he says cases are down 45% over this time last year.
The issue, they say is that some people don't like the no-kill shelter direction the county decided upon three months ago, nor the people that are trying to manage that transition.
Outsiders, they say are spreading lies.
Insiders, they say, have even gone so far as to purposely create problems by switching animals ID cards and name-tags.
The county has recently installed cameras to contend with the allegations.
County Commissioner Kevin Beckner says they welcome employee input, even if it's constructive criticism.
"We're just not going to tolerate deliberate actions of sabotage," he says.
Officials concede there are managerial issues created by the transition.
Two weeks ago, they committed another $250,000 to boost staffing, and Wednesday announced animal control officers would be managed by the county's code enforcement, so that shelter Director Ian Hallett can concentrate more on the shelter itself.
"Whatever other issues people have -- there's a time and a place to resolve that," said County Administrator Mike Merrill.
But critics say the problem is mismanagement and that the shelter was ill-prepared to handle and treat the growing population a no-kill shelter creates. The potential sanitary and medical issues.
"He's not doing it fast enough. He's not working fast enough," said of Hallett, "and these animals are suffering."
The shelter is getting advice from experts at the University of Florida on how to better manage the shelter.
They admit they have issues, but wanted to make it clear, at this time - a parvo outbreak is not one of them.