New Hillsborough County Animal Services director confronted with tough questions

MANGO, Fla. - Passionate pet lovers packed into the Mango Recreation Center on Thursday evening for a community forum with the new director of the Hillsborough County Animal Services shelter.

"There are a lot of people here with a lot of emotion that want this to be fixed," Art Fyvolent said into the microphone. 

Fyvolent was just one of dozens of local animal rescue group owners who came armed with complaints about the shelter's current operation.

"I've watched it go from the best shelter in the country to perhaps the worst," he said. 

"I'm so disturbed at the illness in the shelter," another audience member said.

On the receiving end was Scott Trebatoski, the shelter's new director. 

"It seems to me since you got here there's roadblock after roadblock being thrown up to prevent me from rescuing a dog," said the owner of a local boxer rescue organization.

To really understand their furor, you have to know the history. From a deadly virus outbreak to an adopted dog mistakenly euthanized to overcrowding and issues of poor communication - it's been a rough year and change for Hillsborough County Animal Services.

Trebatoski took over as the shelter's new director approximately seven weeks ago. He called for this community meeting to share ideas and discuss recent policy changes. 

"Everything is on the table. Anything that's going to help us move forward," Trebatoski said.

But as the night progressed, so did the frustration.

"I'm leaving with as much anger as I had when I got here," Fyvolent said.

Multiple people in the audience demanded the county hold another meeting next month to update the public on the status of the shelter. However, the county staff was noncommittal in their response.  Trebatoski would not set a date for a follow-up meeting, but said "they're committed to communication."

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