By Lauren Cresta, Interactive Marketing Manager, Busch Gardens Tampa
Busch Gardens has joined forces with the Humane Society of Tampa Bay with the “Busch Gardens Happy Tails” program to raise adoption awareness for homeless dogs and cats. Starting Feb. 27, Busch Gardens will provide two complimentary single-day admission tickets to pet lovers who adopt a new dog or cat from the Humane Society’s Tampa shelter.
Busch Gardens has long supported local animal shelters by providing homes, and a second chance at life, for abandoned and neglected animals. Considered by many to be “untrainable,” these adopted animals now steal the stage—and fans’ hearts –as stars in the park’s popular show “Critter Castaways.” These furry ambassadors bring smiles to thousands of guests every day while promoting the importance of shelter adoptions.
The park’s most famous adoptee, Mtani, a Labrador-retriever mix, joined the Busch Gardens family in 2011 to become life-long friends to Kasi the cheetah after the baby cheetah was orphaned. Since coming to the park, the cheetah and dog have lived together at Cheetah Run.
This is the fourth region to launch the Happy Tails program, started by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. The program has helped thousands of dogs and cats find loving homes in the communities and neighborhoods surrounding SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Antonio, SeaWorld San Diego and Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
The tickets are valid for a single-day admission to the theme park and are valid for one year from the pet adoption date. Tickets will be printed onsite at the participating shelter. Happy Tails details and participating shelter information can be found at


Saturday, March 2 from 8:30am to noon, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay (HSTB) will hold the 26th annual “Bark in the Park Fundraising Walk for the Animals” at Al Lopez Park. Last year, the walk raised nearly $80,000 and all proceeds were used to fund programs and services at HSTB.
Again this year, Al Lopez Park will be transformed into “Dogtown U.S.A.”, a neighborhood full of fun for children, adults and dogs alike. Participants and their pets can visit Vendor Village, Rescue Row, Shop-til-You-Drop Street and Agility Avenue, among many other areas, and take part in Pet Costume/Talent contests. Doggy Fun Zone, a high-energy agility course for everyday dogs that was a huge hit with last year’s attendees, will return as a featured exhibit.
FOX 13’s Charley Belcher will serve as the official event emcee, accompanied by his faithful sidekick and former HSTB adoptable, Tonka.
Top sponsors for the event are Pet Supermarket, Vivint, Petco Foundation and Mastro Subaru.

    SATURDAY, MARCH 2, 2013
    8:30 AM – 12:00 PM
    TAMPA, FL 33614

There is a $25 registration fee to participate in the walk portion of the event, which includes an event T-shirt. Access to the festival is free and open to the public but participants are encouraged to raise more money to help HSTB save more lives. Walkers can register on the morning of the event or pre-register online at
Also, the third annual “Run to Remember” 5K in memory of Alexis Saunders will be held prior to the Walk for the Animals, at 9:00am at Al Lopez Park. Proceeds will benefit the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. For information or to register for the run, visit and search “Alexis Saunders.”
Featured photo by Krista Sparkman Photography.

While many dog lovers will soon be watching pampered pooches strut their stuff on the Westminster stage, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay offers this reminder: Dogs in shelters might not have a distinguished pedigree, but they are equally deserving of pomp and circumstance.
This week, forget the blue ribbons and celebrate shelter dogs, which come with blue collars all their own. These mixed breed mutts don’t need a silver cup to show off how special they are.
The top five reasons to make adoption your first option when considering a Best-In-Show companion:
5. No two dogs are alike. Why blend in with the crowd? When you adopt a mixed-breed, chances are he is one-of-a-kind and uniquely yours. Everyone loves a good story, and the amazing story of how you rescued your dog and guessing the breeds he’s comprised of is guaranteed to please!
4. Give your wallet a break. Adoption fees are substantially lower than the purchase price of pedigreed pups. And, most shelter dogs are already spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and micro-chipped. Studies also show that mixed-breeds have less health problems than purebreds, saving you even more money down the road.
3. Compete with the best of them. Some may think that pageants are for purebreds only, but mixed breeds compete in agility and other sporting contests, and their unique sizes and temperaments may even give them an edge.
2. Jack of all trades. Mixed breeds aren’t limited to only one ‘herding’ or ‘working’ category; they can do it all! Mutts are made up of the best of both worlds, and if their parents were also mixed, there’s no limit to the amazing characteristics one dog can possess.
1. Save a life! There are millions of dogs in this country without a loving family. When you adopt, you not only save a life, but you give a much-needed home to a dog that might never have had one. There is nothing like the feeling of rescuing an animal.
Help the Humane Society of Tampa Bay spread the word about adoption. There are millions of champion pets just waiting for loving homes in shelters across the country and at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. Below are pictures of just a few of our beautiful mixed breeds available for adoption!
Pictured: Charlie: Standard Schnauzer Mix, Male, 2 years old; Marvin: Catahoula Leopard Dog Mix, Male, 4 years 1 month old; Sierra: Golden Retriever/Labrador Retriever Mix, Female, 3 years old; Xena: Pit Bull Terrier Mix, Female, 2 years 10 months old. Pictures by Krista Sparkman

On February 7, 2013, State Attorney General Pam Bondi held her Cabinet meeting in the Exhibition Hall at the Florida State Fair. A true animal advocate, with two rescue dogs of her own, Attorney General Bondi features adoptable pets at all of her Cabinet meetings. Because the meeting was held in Tampa, she chose HSTB to provide her featured pet! Mia, a 8.5 month old Welsh Corgi/Australian Shepherd mix, was wonderfully behaved and loved all the attention she got.

Thank you, Attorney General, for inviting us to join you and for spreading the word about adopting pets in need.

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4StarRectBWFor the fourth year in a row, Charity Navigator has awarded the Humane Society of Tampa Bay with its highest rating, four out of four stars. The rating system evaluates non-profit organizations from across the United States on their fiscal management as well as their commitment to accountability and transparency. Receiving four stars signifies an organization’s adherence to good governance, fiscal responsibility and minimizing the chance for unethical activity. For an organization to receive the highest score year after year is a notable achievement.
“Only 6% of the charities we rate have received at least four consecutive 4-star evaluations,” said Ken Berger, Charity Navigator’s President and CEO. “[This indicates] that Humane Society of Tampa Bay outperforms most other charities in America.”
Berger also noted that the four-star designation “differentiates Humane Society of Tampa Bay from its peers and demonstrates to the public it is worthy of their trust.”
The Humane Society of Tampa Bay has a long history of best practices.
“The lives, health and well-being of thousands of animals are in our hands every year,” said Sherry Silk, Executive Director of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. “Because of that, we are deeply committed to conducting our business with the highest ethical standards and best practices available. We continually strive to be a leader in animal welfare and this four-star rating from Charity Navigator is a strong indication that we are on the right track.”
Charity Navigator evaluates ten times more charities than their competitors and has been celebrated as the leading charity evaluator in America by Forbes, Business Week, and Kiplinger’s Financial Magazine.
“This important rating enhances our fundraising efforts by giving donors peace of mind that their money is going to be handled responsibly and designated according to their wishes,” said Humane Society of Tampa Bay Director of Development Nancy McCall. “Currently, eighty-seven cents of every dollar donated goes to our programs to help the animals. That makes us extremely proud.”