Broward's "No-Kill Shelter" Resolution Has Accidentally Led to More Dead Pets

Categories: News

Erick Pleitez, via Wikimedia Commons
Just south of Oakland Park on I-95, drivers turn to stare at an eye-catching billboard. It shows a picture of an adorable golden retriever and this striking web address:

The website offers the same picture with a devilish choice: You can either save the pup or kill it. Choosing the latter option will lead the site to call you a "heartless bastard."
What's all this hypothetical dog-killing drama about?

A group called Pets Broward bought the billboard to draw attention to what it says has happened since the county passed a resolution in April 2012 declaring an intent to convert its animal shelters to no-kill facilities. In the two years since, the folks at Pets Broward say, killings at Broward County Animal Care have only increased.

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

"It was a feel-good, hollow resolution they put out, and they have people believing they are no-kill," says Meredith Bruder, a spokeswoman for the group. "But you can look up the stats and find out it's so far from no-kill it's scary."

Around the same time the resolution came on the books, another one was passed to make public shelters transparent. That means Broward County Animal Care must share its euthanasia rates with anyone who sends a written request with a self-addressed return envelope.

The publicly available data shows Bruder is not crying wolf. Although the percentage rate of animals killed at the shelter has steadily decreased since 2010, the total number of animals killed has, in fact, gone up.

Between October 2010 and April 2012, 799 pets were euthanized on average per month. In the months since the resolution passed -- from May 2012 to the end of 2013 -- that monthly average jumped to 889.

Bruder believes the numbers are increasing because a lot more animals are being taken to the Broward facility since the resolution misled people into thinking Broward centers are already no-kill. In the month immediately after the resolution passed, the number of animals dropped off at the shelter doubled, from 731 to 1,462. In reality, the resolution only solidified an "intent" to become to-kill; it gave no deadline for the county's shelters to top a 90 percent save rate.

To achieve this goal, the shelter has tried to decrease intake by upping its neutering and pet registration services. It's working with limited resources, though, because the resolution did not mean additional taxpayer dollars were added to the shelter.

"One of the things that has happened to us is that our intake has gone up. More people are surrendering our pets, so it's just more animals we're responsible for," says Lisa Mendheim, spokeswoman for Broward County Animal Care. "And nothing is going to turn on a dime. We're proud of what we've done so far, and we think the animals of Broward County would thank us for it."

Send your story tips to the author, Allie Conti.

Follow Allie Conti on Twitter: @allie_conti

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This is an unfortunate consequence of good intentions having an inadvertent side effect, one that sadly, dilutes the effect.

At least Broward County Animal Care and Adoption (BCAC) is exercising an honest, steadfast mode of acting on the resolutions to install that change. That's more than some others can say. Consider that BCAC is not a private shelter, but instead the municipality here, and they're more compliant with kill reduction standards than some of the others.

Their direction is sound. Still, there are prevailing models they could employ for results. (Consider Lee County below on feline ratios.)


Until the county (and that includes the residents whose support is crucial!) commits to a no kill model, and that would mean municipal and private shelters, and rescue groups all working together, it's just not going to happen in Broward which is so sad.  A shame the county shelter is the one that wanted to do this and ultimately is getting the heat for killing more animals. It is very telling their announcement made relinquishing pet owners more comfortable about surrendering to them; a municipal shelter as opposed to the big pretty private one down the road. I do believe their intentions were good but they did not have the support they needed from their counterparts or from their community.  You can't just say "no kill" and make it happen.  There are many components and the most important one is for the entire community to be on board and that also requires the collaboration of the private entities. There has to be a united front and effort and a serious effort made regarding pet retention, return to owner, TNR for feral cats, offsite adoptions, working with rescues (which the county shelter does, but HSBC does not, and why not?), etc.  Not to mention affordable or free spay/neuter, accessible to all who need it.  How do they expect someone without a car to get their pet to a clinic when there are no clinics in the poorest of areas?  My hat is off to BCACC for what they are trying to accomplish with very little support.  I hope the residents of Broward start demanding better from all their shelters and work to help make it happen.  No kill IS WORKING in more than 200 counties/communities all over the U.S. including rural, suburban and urban areas.  It only takes the determination and desire to make it happen.  It does not cost more money in the long run, that is a fallacy.  In fact if done right it will save money and bring in more money to better help the truly needy animals entering their shelters and rescues in the future.  As the public wants to support lifesaving, not so much killing. 


The article should say that in July 2013 a tranparency law was enacted in Florida

which requires PRIVATE shelters (humane societies and rescues) to make their

animal reports public.  Those reports show that the Humane Society of Broward County is also NOT a No Kill shelter. In the 6 months that we have their reports, Humane Society of Broward County has killed a total of 4,250 dogs and cats and adopted out only 3,852.  I think it needs to be clear that its not only the county shelter doing the killing. 

Lin Jeffries
Lin Jeffries

They've never been a completely no kill shelter


Yes, people should understand that the Humane Society (HSUS) is far from no-kill. In fact, they refuse to work with no-kill shelters of any sort. Their approach is similar to that of PETA in that they'd sooner euthanize than chance suffering. Understood, but this also kills healthy animals unnecessarily.

Further disconcerting, reports say that of the many millions the corporate office takes in annually, less than 1% makes it back out to the local shelters, thus why wealthy, good-hearted people like Marti Huizenga make the difference here.

HSUS is also against outdoor cats, so their kill numbers are high on incoming felines, reflective in their overall staggering kill ratio.

In great contrast, consider Alley Cat Allies' (ACA's) Future Five: Shelter Partners program. I am pushing for Broward County Animal Care and Adoption to engage with this.

Just this July, Lee County, Florida, whom uses this program, announced that their save rates have skyrocketed thanks to their expanding Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) program and other lifesaving policies that have been instituted as part of ACA's Future Five: Shelter Partners to Save Cats' Lives program.

Tellingly, in 2007, similar to Broward County currently, Lee County was only saving 15 percent of cats who entered their facility—now, in 2014, they are saving nearly 70 percent of cats entering the shelter—the highest amount in 10 years, And the number keeps rising.

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