Miami-Dade shelter is drowning in cats and dogs. Pets’ Trust is the obvious solution | Guest Opinion
After reading Doug Hanks’ Jan. 25 front-page story, “No room in the kennel,” I am not going to say, “ We told you so.” However, after observing Miami-Dade Animal Services for the past 10 years, it confirms that, when almost 500,000 Miami-Dade County residents voted for the Pets’ Trust in 2012 (nearly 65% of the voters), we know what needs to be done.
When Animal Services Director Bronwyn Stanford says, “It a crisis everyday”, we believe her!
Unfortunately, during those 10 years, our elected officials decided that our votes didn’t count. To this day, the Pets’ Trust plan has never been implemented. As a consequence, animals have suffered beyond imagination. News stories of cruelty and neglect demonstrate that they are in dire need of help. We at the Pets’ Trust will continue to encourage elected officials to honor residents’ vote.
The county’s plan has been managed admissions: The shelter controls the number of animals coming in and turns away untold numbers of lost or abandoned dogs and cats, as well as owner-surrenders, because there is no space.
In the past, the shelter killed (the kinder word was “euthanized”) 20,000 mostly healthy pets a year for decades just to make that space available. Now, like many shelters across the country, they just say, “No room in the kennel.” When people are turned away, where do those animals go? They don’t magically disappear. Use your imagination. That’s where they go.
When Rita Schwartz and I started the Pets’ Trust, it was because all of those deaths were happening inside the shelter. Now those deaths are occurring outside, with animals dying painful deaths as they are hit by cars, poisoned, used for bait, starved and even shot. Elected officials are raving about how deaths are down at Animal Services but, unlike the rest of us, they apparently don’t see the proliferation of roaming cats and dogs on the streets and somehow must believe that, if they die on the outside, it doesn’t count.
This problem can’t be fixed in one day, or in one month. Someone asked me, “What would I do if I were in charge of Animal Services?” My answer compared it to the Titanic hitting the iceberg. What can you do but try to save the passengers in the icy waters? It’s too late at that point. The crash happened. Our “animal crash” is happening now, so we can only run from one emergency to the next trying to save as many as we can. Everyone who is trying to help is overwhelmed.
When voters resoundingly approved the Pets’ Trust, they realized it was a plan for the future. There were to be four spay/neuter facilities around Miami-Dade County, particularly in underserved areas. Each one would be committed to performing between 25,000 to 30,000 surgeries a year. That would have been more 100,000 spay or neuter surgeries a year. Imagine how many surgeries would have been accomplished during these past decade.
And voters understood that there is a tax associated with the Pets’ Trust, costing the average homeowner $11 a year. The county has shown that its plan isn’t working. For $11 a year, let’s try something else.
Of course, the spay/neuter facilities are not the entire solution, but part of a bigger Pets’ Trust plan to try and end the animal overpopulation problem. Review the entire program at www.PetsTrustMiami.com. And for even more information, watch the movie Political Animals, A Movie About Politicians and Animals. The Story of the Pets’ Trust. You won’t see animal cruelty, but you will see political cruelty.
What can we do to help animals now? Call, email, text and write your local elected county commissioners to, to once and for all honor our vote and implement the Pets’ Trust to stop the killing. It will be the best $11 you’ve ever spent.
Michael Rosenberg is president of the Pets’ Trust.