Animal Control Keeps Pets, People Safe

Officers handle variety of calls, from rounding up vicious dogs to rescuing puppies stuck in a ditch

Confiscation of more than 300 dogs from an illegal puppy mill in East Tampa stands out among the almost 20,000 cases handled last year by Hillsborough County Animal Control.

Every day is different. In June, Animal Control officers seized snakes, a spider, and an alligator from someone’s apartment. Most cases are more easily categorized either as bites, which are public safety matters, or animal neglect, which is a violation of animal welfare standards.

This summer an officer retrieved a litter of puppies from a rain-swelled ditch in Wimauma. Wading in mud, she dislodged the last puppy from roots and reunited the young dogs with their mother at the Pet Resource Center, the County’s animal shelter, at 400 N. Falkenburg Road in Tampa.

Puppies pulled safely from a Wimauma ditch that served as a makeshift den.

Animal Control officers investigate complaints about domestic animals except livestock throughout the county, including the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace, and Plant City. When appropriate they obtain warrants to access properties where there might be problems.

The department recently moved to the County's Code Enforcement Department from Pet Resources, though its mission remains much the same. The purpose is to place everyone who enforces codes in the same division.

Report an Animal Emergency

Animal Control enforces County ordinances including those that mandate:

• No pet shall be allowed to roam freely off its owner's property.
• All dogs, cats, and ferrets age 4 months or older much be registered with Hillsborough County and vaccinated for rabies.
• Domestic animals must receive proper care, including adequate food, clean water, shade, shelter, and medical care when needed.
• Dogs must not attack or threaten a person or pet.
• When not on its owner's property, a pet must be restrained with a leash no longer than 6 feet.

Fines for violations range from $100 to $500 for multiple violations.

Animal Control emphasizes that education is the best way to ensure dog and cat owners take proper care of their animals and keep residents safe. Officers take every opportunity to share why it's important to follow the pet-related practices codified in County ordinances.

Top photo: Animal Control Officer Kaylee Lannigan with one of the puppies she rescued from a ditch in Wimauma.