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Hyde Park

Humane Society sets up shop

Using donated space in a former maternity store, the satellite location will increase exposure for adoptable animals.

By REBECCA RICHARDS
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 14, 2003


Tucked between M.A.C. cosmetics and Origins skin care in Old Hyde Park Village is a new store with a unique tail. Er, tale.

Puppies, cats, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs are housed there for all to see -- and perhaps love enough to keep.

The Humane Society of Tampa Bay has set up a satellite location with the idea of getting more animals adopted. In its first week, two puppies and three cats found homes.

The location has plenty of space, but for now, houses just five animals at a time. Up to three more will be added, once more crates and kiddie pools are donated, said Lynn Haag, special events coordinator.

Saturday, residents included a pit bull-mix puppy, three cats and a rabbit.

The puppy, Macy, clamored for attention in a fenced kiddie pool.

The adoption site debuts formally to the public the weekend of March 1 with a pet costume contest, dog washing and training demonstrations around the Village fountain.

The Village donated the store space, formerly a maternity clothing store, said marketing director Heather LaBrecque. Animals and potential adoptive parents visit in the dressing rooms, cordoned off with baby gates. Adoption fees range from $5 for a hamster to $70 for a dog.

If a paying client comes along for the store space, the Humane Society would move, LaBrecque said. But for now, it's open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. The agency also peddles leashes, T-shirts and pet bowls at the storefront.

"Everyone's so excited to have us there," said Beverly Kinsey, one of two volunteer co-managers. "Our exposure in Hyde Park is excellent."

The Village has long been dog-friendly. The Samba Room puts out water bowls. Anthropologie keeps treats on hand.

Store employees are among the most loyal visitors to the shelter outpost.

Todd Powell, who works at Pottery Barn, has a Jack Russell terrier named Stoli, named after the vodka. ("You need a couple drinks after being around him," Powell quipped.)

He figures Stoli could use a buddy, so he checks out Macy and a bulletin board of dog photographs. He's looking for a smaller variety and says he'll come back.

Colorful animals romp across the bottom of the storefront, penciled and painted by Nancy Rider, who shares two Dalmatians and a rabbit with her husband, Doug.

"They're my kids," she said.

Kinsey and fellow volunteer Erin Hunt are animal lovers, too. Hunt and her husband, Doug, own a Great Dane and are foster parents for Central Florida Great Dane Rescue.

Kinsey, a Humane Society volunteer for six years, owns a 5-pound Maltese named Avery, part of a litter brought to the shelter. She kept poodles before that and belongs to the all-female Krewe of Pandora, founded in 1999 to support the Humane Society.

"We're making such strides in trying to place animals and trying to educate people," she said of the Humane Society.

In 2001, nearly 13,000 animals were brought to the Armenia Avenue shelter. Of those, about 6,400 cats and 2,500 dogs were euthanized.

-- Weekday volunteers are needed at the Humane Society in Old Hyde Park Village. If interested, call Lynn Haag at 876-4150.

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