JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The director of Animal Care and Protective Services in Jacksonville has announced he will be taking another job in Tampa in March.

Scott Trebatoski has been here since 2008 and has been credited for making huge improvements in the animal welfare system and playing a leading role in the push to make Jacksonville a no-kill city.

In 2007, the city euthanized 18,809 animals. Last year that number drastically dropped to 1,946.

Many animal lovers are hoping the new director will be able to complete Trebatoski's goal of making Jacksonville a no-kill city in 2014. Trebatoski said he feels confident that will continue after he leaves.

"Sounds like he's done amazing things, and if he's leaving and someone new is coming in, I would hope, pray and cross my fingers that they too could fill those shoes," said Anita Arguenllo, an animal lover.

Trebatoski is credited with turning things around in an organization that was under fire for many years. In 2003, at least 50 dogs were found at a Mandarin home. Animal Control was under fire when all 50 were euthanized, not one given the chance to be adopted.

Things didn't seem to get much better until Trebatoski took over in 2008. Last year, the city euthanized about 14.5 percent of the animal control population, down from 80 percent in 2007.

"I think the changes were primarily due to getting the community to work together as a whole rather than a bunch of different segments of animal welfare, as well as giving the employees at Animal Care and Protective Services better skills and better focus," Trebatoski said.

He said he trusts the city will find the proper replacement and adds reaching the goal of Jacksonville becoming a no-kill city isn't in the hands of just the director.

"It's more of a community effort and every player has a part," Trebatoski said. "But it's not one single person who's going to make or break the success. So I think were dead on track."

He said if other organizations like the Jacksonville Humane Society and First Coast No More Homeless Pets continue to push forward, Jacksonville can still accomplish that goal. Animal lovers say that time couldn't come any sooner.

"Kill shelters -- that shouldn't even be a word in our vocabulary," Arguenllo said.

Trebatoski had nothing but wonderful things to say about his experience in Jacksonville, and he said it was a very hard decision for him to make, taking several weeks to do so.

His last day is March 10, and he will then begin his new role as director of Hillsborough County Animal Services in Tampa.

The city of Jacksonville said it has started the process on finding a replacement.