Just two months on the job, Ian Hallett, the county's new director of Animal Services is busy getting acquainted with the staff of Animal Services as well as the animal rescue groups and veterinarians that work closely with the county agency.
A Riverview native, he said he began working with animals at the age of 16 as a veterinary technicial at the Riverview Veterinary Hospital. Hallett is a 1995 graduate of the International Baccalaureate Program at Hillsborough High School. He went on to earn bachelor’s degrees in biology and economics from the New College of Florida, and his master's degree in public policy from the University of Texas at Austin.
Hallett is intimately familiar with the issues and concerns facing animal rescue agencies. Before returning to Hillsborough County, he served as the deputy chief for Austin Animal Services where he was responsible for 90 employees, a $7.7 million budget and an average intake of 20,000 animals a year.
"I began there as a volunteer where I learned a tremendous amount about progressive adoption/rescue/fostering programs, the importance of robust sterilization efforts and disease management in large shelters."
During his tenure as deputy chief for Austin Animal Services, one of his goals was to reduce the number of euthanized animals.
"When I started there, the save rate was under 40 percent. Currently the save rate is 90 percent," he said, adding that he's hoping for equally successful results in Hillsborough County.
"While that may seem like an unattainable goal, I have firsthand knowledge of the process and bring that valuable knowledge to Hillsborough County including many lessons learned," he said.
Hillsborough County currently euthanizes 14,500 animals of the 21,000 animals the county shelter takes in each year are euthanized.
Fluent in Spanish, Hallett is an avid cyclist who hopes to enjoy biking to the office.
Hallett is married to another native of Hillsborough County. They have a toddler son and a pair of adopted shelter pets, including a pitbull terrier.
"It's great to be home," Hallett said. "I look forward to helping make my hometown one of the best places in the world for people and animals to live together."
Hallett said his first step will be to reach out to all of those concerned about the county's euthanasia rate and get them involved in the process.
"I will do my part to ensure that is is a thoughtful, gradual and inclusive process," he said.
Toward that goal, the county currently is seeking three residents to serve on the newly created Animal Services Task Force.
Following a request in May from the Hillsborough County Commission, the Animal Services Task Force is being created to study the best practices of other animal shelters that have reduced their euthanasia rates and the come up with a financially feasible plan for Hillsborough County.
This task force will be comprised of the current Animal Advisory Committee members and three members of the community, appointed by the Animal Advisory Committee.
Terms are for six months. All nominees must be registered voters in Hillsborough County. Appointments are voluntary positions and members serve without compensation.
Applicants are required to submit a one-page letter of interest by Aug. 29. All eligible applicants required to attend the Animal Advisory Committee meeting scheduled for Sept. 19, 6:30 p.m., in the second-floo9r Board Room of the County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa.
The task force's meeting schedule is to be determined.
Residents interested in being considered for appointment must submit a completed Questionnaire for County Appointments along with their letter of interest. All forms must be signed and dated.
The forms are available in the lobby of Animal Services, 440 Falkenburg Rd., Tampa, or by calling the boards and councils coordinator at 813-272-5826. The form is also available on the Hillsborough County website by clicking on “Government,” then “Boards and Committees” and “Application Questionnaire for County Appointments.”
All documents can be mailed to Boards & Councils Coordinator, P.O. Box 1110, Tampa, FL 33601; faxed to 813-307-3237; or scanned and emailed to Luann Finley at firstname.lastname@example.org.