TAMPA - Most of the 48 dogs seized from a Lutz mobile home Feb. 12 are headed - in style - for a Texas dog adoption service.
Anna Wallace, co-operator of West Texas Chow Chow Rescue, came to Tampa this week and chose 29 of the chows that were "shy and a little timid," she said. They included nine puppies. "We're choosing the dogs that are least likely to bite," she said.
Wallace's nonprofit agency in Lubbock, Texas, is one of the nation's largest chow foster kennels and arranges adoptions over many states.
The dogs are to be flown to Lubbock today by Southeast Airlines. Tom Kolfenbach, owner of the Largo-based airline, owns a chow named Ming and offered to fly the dogs for free, said Mary Jo Hoday, the airline's vice president for sales.
"I know it sounds kind of crazy, but it felt like the right thing to do," Hoday said.
She said the dogs will be flown in cages resting in passenger seats, secured by seat belt extensions.
Until two weeks ago, the 48 chows lived in the yard and mobile home of Karen Sharpe, 52, of Lutz. But Hillsborough County Animal Control officers, acting on an anonymous tip, seized the dogs and charged Sharpe with animal cruelty and improper confinement.
Sharpe said she had tried unsuccessfully to keep the males and females separate, but they were able to breed. After the chows were seized, county officials condemned the mobile home.
Bill Armstrong, director of Hillsborough County Animal Services, said the chows are in good health except for a few that have cold-like respiratory problems. Wallace and Armstrong said the 19 chows being left in Tampa are too aggressive to be adopted.
If behavior training doesn't work, they may be euthanized, Armstrong said.
"We're going to make every attempt to get these animals rehabilitated," he said.