Is MDAS inflating no-kill numbers by ignoring abandoned animals?

In the last 48 hours, Examiner has received a series of startling emails, all part of the public record, between Alex Munoz, Director of Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department, and two members of Poodle and Pooch Rescue of Florida. These emails suggest that the 90% ‘save rate’ recently released by MDAS, a notoriously high-kill shelter, were massaged and acquired by ignoring abandoned animals in Miami-Dade County, as well as by deliberately shutting their doors to owner turn-ins. In short, it appears as if this shelter’s intake is lowered to make their ‘save rate’ appear higher, a complete disservice to their entire community.

As previously reported in a number of articles such as these in Examiner, over the past few weeks Poodle and Pooch have been instrumental in assisting the overwhelmed citizens and volunteers in The Redlands of Miami-Dade County with the horrific number of animals dumped in that area. Rescues and volunteers have known for years that animals are kicked out of cars, abused, abandoned and left to starve and die in that area. Examiner has seen photographs of their decaying bodies and bones melting into the hot Florida asphalt. Volunteers spend their own time and money to try to make a dent in the despair.

As noted above, emails supplied to Examiner this week suggest at least two things which are extremely disturbing to any reader. First, that Director Munoz and MDAS claim that they don’t know where these animals have been dumped for the past decade, and require the help of rescues to find these hundreds of imperiled animals. Second, that MDAS is telling pet owners who want to relinquish their animals, that the shelter is closed to surrenders. Is this one-two-punch how MDAS has achieved almost ‘no-kill’? Animal activists, rescues, local citizens and the Pets Trust all find their low no-kill numbers hard to believe, based on a number of items including eyewitnesses at the shelter, who see healthy, adoptable animals euthanized on a regular basis. Examiner will reveal how owner relinquishment to MDAS is being deterred by staffers in an upcoming article.

Let’s now examine the abandoned animal problem in The Redlands of Miami-Dade County. In an email sent out on March 14, on which this Examiner was copied, Director Munoz stated, “we drive the area regularly. and by the way we enforce the area regularly…that’s why we ask for locations. If you give us locations of the issues you mention we would go and enforce those specific locations.” The ‘issues’ mentioned by the petitioner, Mayra Ramirez, included dumping of dogs, dogfighting, irresponsible breeding and more. Ms. Ramirez writes,

“these dogs are even being poisoned. Some dogs are dodging traffic on busy roadways. There are dogs in the middle of the fields. Many of them are starving looking for food, covered in fleas, have broken limbs, have bite wounds, are pregnant, etc. The latest heartbreaking tragedy found this week… a pregnant dog that was killed and gutted for her puppies!”

In his email, Mr. Munoz goes on to say, “In the last three years we have: Picked up 1,128 Strays, Responded to 574 cruelty cases and had 189 Tethering cases. If you do not provide a location then the matter and the violation goes unaddressed.” In the last few weeks alone, Poodle and Pooch rescue, among others, have picked up hundreds of abandoned animals in this area. Sadly, there was simply no more room in the volunteer’s vehicles, so many of the abandoned animals had to be left behind to fend for themselves in the area. An area, which, apparently, is invisible to the paid staff of MDAS.

Ms. Rebecca Lynch, the President of Poodle and Pooch, is one of many disgusted by the inaction of this city-run shelter and responded to Director Munoz:

“Wow. So you caught 2 dogs a day (2331 over 3 years) with your trucks and paid trained personnel in an area you say “you are very familiar with”. Meanwhile a realtor, a CPA, and a teacher from Orlando who don’t know the area, caught 52 dogs in 7 hours. If that isn’t prima facie evidence of either your complete incompetence or total disregard for the suffering of these dogs and the taxpayers of your county, then I don’t know what is. Perhaps you should hire a realtor or a CPA or a teacher or a pool man or a tattoo artist or a circus performer from 5 hours away to run MDAS because they would do a better job.”

Regarding the three years of ‘responding’ to 574 cruelty cases which Mr. Munoz cited, which is less than 200 per year, Ms. Ramirez replied,

“You’ve responded to 574 cruelty cases in three years? What does this mean exactly? That someone showed up? How about how many summons and fines were handed out? I reported a case early this year on a dog that’s kept outside. When I called back, to check on the status, was told he had enough shelter. However, the dog is always in a corner of the fence in the pouring rain or beating sun. “

Rescuers are extremely frustrated with the inaction of MDAS, the complete disregard of the will of the people by Miami’s Mayor Gimenez and Miami Dade’s Commissioners regarding adopting the Pet’s Trust, as reported here in 2013, as well as the general refusal of Miami’s mainstream media to take a stand for the animals in their county. If you want to know more about Pet’s Trust, which had a 65 percent voter approval from residents of Miami-Dade, please click here.

Where are rescues like Poodle and Pooch finding the animals that MDAS doesn’t seem to be able to locate? According to Ms. Lynch’s email to Mr. Munoz, they are “ALL OVER REDLAND!! In the streets dodging traffic, in junk yard type areas filled with trash, waste, filth.” This includes the remains of horses.

It was previously reported here that horses and other animals were being slaughtered and sold for human consumption in that county. On Wednesday, the owner of one such facility, Coco Farms, was found guilty, but his sentence included no jail time and received a plea deal, which infuriated members of Animal Recovery Mission, (ARM), who spearheaded that investigation. While they were picking up the abandoned dogs this week, Poodle and Pooch volunteers “stumbled upon rib cages and horse remains off the beaten path.”

As you might expect, the conditions of the dogs the volunteers and rescues picked up from the streets of The Redlands just this past week are deplorable. “Several are heartworm positive, several were filled with shot gun pellets, one had to have an eye removed because someone shot her straight in the eye, two had to have leg amputations from being hit by cars, one is paraplegic from being hit by a car, one was quadriplegic from being hit by a car, several have Parvo, all of them were filled with hookworms and loaded with fleas, one has a terrible and painful case of mange, one had an ear infection so bad you couldn’t touch his head, several were emaciated, one was loaded with metal because someone fed her this to try to poison her, one needed a blood transfusion because she was severely anemic from fleas eating her alive.”

Since it’s become apparent to rescues and volunteers that no matter how many concerned citizens contact MDAS, Mayor Gimenez and the Commission, each entity is turning a blind eye to the ever-growing problem. Therefore, Examiner suggests that you contact local media in that area to voice your concerns. Below is a list of suggested contacts:

Miami Herald Media Company
3511 NW 91 Ave., Miami, FL 33172
Metro Editor: Jay Ducassi, jducassi@miamiherald.com (305) 376-3557; Managing Editor: Rick Hirsch,rhirsch@miamiherald.com (305) 376-3504

ABC – WPLG, Local 10 News: newsdesk@wplg.com or 954-364-2500

NBC 6 South Florida
15000 SW 27th Street, Miramar, FL 33027 Phone: 954-NBC-6000 or 305-379-6666, the email link here.

CBS – WFOR
8900 NW 18th Ter., Miami, Florida, Main number: (305) 591-4444, Miami-Dade: (305) 639-4500 E-Mail:wfornews@wfor.cbs.com

CBS – WQAM Main number: (305) 654-1700 Miami-Dade (305) 639-4500

WSVN – Newsroom number (305) 795-2777, email on this link here!

Does any rescue or animal advocate want more pets picked up from the street and euthanized behind the walls of MDAS? Of course not. But it appears as if the powers-that-be in Miami-Dade County are choosing to ignore the problem, instead of utilizing the solution that was given to them years ago: the Pet’s Trust. Ms. Lynch from Poodle and Pooch put it best when she said, “This is not Miami’s Dirty Little Secret anymore. The entire state is watching now.” If you’d like to see the available animals from Poodle and Pooch, including the Redland rescues, please click here.

 

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Courtesy, Kristen Alwin Carbone

 

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