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Joint cleanup effort targets North Tampa

Published June 7, 2007


TAMPA - Dozens of city and county workers descended on an area of North Tampa Wednesday as part of a cleanup effort dubbed Operation Summer Heat.

The daylong push involving about 40 workers is targeting everything from substandard housing to illegal dumping to overgrown lots and animal cruelty.

"We're going into the trenches to see what we can see, " said Hillsborough County Animal Services spokeswoman Marti Ryan.

The target area crosses city and county lines, extending between Florida Avenue and 22nd Avenue in the area of Busch Boulevard.

"We're taking the bad people's hiding spots away, " said Officer Greg Hattle as city sanitation crews removed brush and debris from a clearing near Annie Street and Mulberry Street. "You just don't come hammer them and arrest them; you also come and clean up."

State Rep. Faye Culp, R-Tampa, was there as part of her interest in protecting animals.

"I'm very concerned about animal cruelty, " said Culp. She said she has tried without success the past three years to pass a new state law increasing penalties for animal cruelty.

"Research shows that many people in jail for human abuse have abused animals, " Culp said.

Hours into the daylong sweep, authorities had issued several citations and warnings for lack of vaccinations and improper confinement of dogs, but no one had been jailed.

"They're public health threats, " Ryan said of neglected pets. "But it's also a quality of life issue for the animal."

Authorities said the sweep netted one arrest for burglary, three illegal dump sites, six unauthorized connections to electrical supply, nine animals seized, 13 residential tags issued for yard trash and 18, 000 pounds of debris.

Operation Summer Heat continues Aug. 29 in Tampa's Sulphur Springs neighborhood.

[Last modified June 7, 2007, 01:30:17]

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