Should Miami-Dade's New Pet Shelter Be No-Kill?

Categories: News
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It's the last stop for thousands of stray and abandoned cats and dogs in Miami-Dade: an aging building surrounded by gray warehouses in industrial Medley. On a recent morning, 20 new strays have already come in, including a shih tzu, a schnauzer, and a beagle. They're just a handful of the 100 or so dogs and 200 cats that arrive on an average day at the overworked, undersized shelter built decades ago.

Change is coming for Dade's wayward pets, with a 69,000-square-foot facility ready to break ground in Doral next year. But behind the scenes, a vicious fight is brewing over how to handle the animals there. Miami-Dade has to take in any domesticated animal that comes its way, and as a result ends up euthanizing up to 30,000 every year. A growing chorus, though, is calling for the new shelter to be no-kill, meaning at least 90 percent must be adopted out.

County Commissioner Jose "Pepe" Diaz sponsored a bill to that effect which passed a committee this month. Shelter director Alex Muñoz says the agency already struggles to handle the large numbers of dogs that Miamians abandon.

"We're even seeing more and more perfectly healthy pure-bred dogs being turned in," he says. "It's a community issue that needs to be addressed."

Muñoz led a reporter through the aging current shelter to illustrate the challenges. An average of 37,000 animals come through every year. In one room, large pens hold litters of three to six kittens each. "People trap them and bring the cats here because they don't want them on their property," he says. "We get 15,000 cats a year."

The main facility has long since been overtaken by the numbers. The results have horrified some critics and led in part to the resignation of Animal Services Director Sara Pizano last year.

In March 2011, the department was forced to shut down due to a distemper outbreak. In August, shortly after Pizano resigned and warned that looming budget cuts would further erode the department, another disease epidemic killed 14 cats and forced an additional 72 to be put down. And on December 31, the canine side had to be locked down once again because of distemper.

Muñoz says the old shelter's poor ventilation and overcrowding make such outbreaks impossible to prevent. Regardless of whether the new shelter goes no-kill, he says the project -- a $6.6 million Doral warehouse redesigned for $457,897 -- will drastically improve conditions. Each animal will get its own individual glass-encased pen with ventilation to stop the spread of airborne viruses.

But that's still two years away. While the county commission and activists fight over the kill policy, thousands of dogs and cats will meet their end in this outdated facility.

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8 comments
mintrose
mintrose

miami dade should have an added tax to support animals .... like an additional 1 or 2 cents on already taxed items .... it should be mandatory and not up for dispute  ...added onto all taxed items sold in the county .... to be used to shelter unwanted and unadopted animals .... for life .... make this county no kill ... with addiitonal funding from mandatory taxes, it shouldn't be difficult to do: http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/

Neil's Ghost
Neil's Ghost

I wish we could cull 30000 a year from the human herd in Dade county.

Guest
Guest

I think that it is ridiculous how us tax payers spent millions of  dollars on the Marlins Stadium but, when we are actually spend tax money for people/animals that actually do need attention people do not want to do it. 

Emily - UDOM
Emily - UDOM

 Also, for the month of June MDAS will have 25% off their adoption fee. Check out all the pets up for adoption on their website or if you have facebook visit https://www.facebook.com/urgentdogsofmiami . Urgent Dogs of Miami is not affiliated with Miami-Dade Animal Services. Its purpose is to show the dogs that are currently at the shelter and need immediate rescue

Emily - UDOM
Emily - UDOM

Direct from the MDAS website: Adoption Fees Adoption fees for puppies and kittens under 4 months old include de-worming, puppy tags, FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) tests for cats, first set of vaccines and microchip. Optional cat tags can be purchased for $5.00. The fee for dogs and cats over 4 months includes rabies vaccination, de-worming, heartworm test for dogs over 6 months of age, rabies license tags for Miami-Dade County residents, FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) tests for cats, first set of vaccines and microchip. Dogs and cats under 3 months (or less than 3 pounds) will not be sterilized and will not receive a rabies shot as the animals are too young to have the surgery or the vaccine. The animal will need to come back to the shelter or see a veterinarian within 30 days of adoption.  When the pet is 4 months of age, a rabies vaccination is required and a license tag for dogs.  The fee for the rabies shot ($10.00). Spay/Neutering is included in Adoption fee.

Albert Mckenna
Albert Mckenna

But if you want to "adopt" one of these pets you probably have to pay an adoption fee on top of other registration or license fees. Am I right? Instead of killing them they should at least give them away to people who are willing to care for them. Come on, these aren't human babies that need to have potential parents' backgrounds thoroughly checked. I mean, I understand that they might end up in worse conditions or potentially end up back in the shelter, but why not give people the benefit of the doubt? Sure, not every pet would be adopted, but it might help. Sometimes everything is not just black and white. Solutions in the grey area can be found...

Lcat29
Lcat29

What a poorly run place. My friend came down to adopt a dog..they didnt want to let her becausecshe lived in wellington. We had to fight them to get the dog out of there. It had an infected eye, a chest infection, and other health issues. My friend even offered to let them pick a vet and drive it over and she would pay all the bills. Finaly after 3 visits and the dog suffering there for a week and a half. She got the dog..had its eye removed and had the dog taken care of..she lives happily on a nice horse farm and is truly loved..they will adopt to any one in miami dade that wont take care of it, but not to someone who wants to give it a good home!

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