This weekend, Suncoast Animal League, located in Palm Harbor, Florida, were excited to announce that Sahara, a sweet pit mix, went home with her foster family. She is the first fostered animal of the group of 70 that the rescue saved from starvation and death in the Redlands of South Florida earlier in the week. WTSP reported on March 22 that Suncoast was going to make the journey, and were looking for additional supplies and volunteers. If you missed this run but would like to donate or participate, another ‘Run to the Redlands’ is set for this coming weekend, with information provided at the end of this article.
Suncoast volunteers and local animal advocates spent three days in the blazing Miami heat, driving and walking street after street, picking up 68 dogs, including four ten-day-old puppies, and two cats. At least one of these animals was an owner turn-in, who was brought by his owner directly to the rescue’s parked vehicles, and not to Miami Dade Animal Services. Why did the owner choose the rescue instead of the shelter? For a number of reasons, many of which are very disturbing.
The first reason, though MDAS claims that they are ‘at an almost 90% no-kill rate’, locals and animal advocates believe that is not the case, based on their experience with the shelter. Any pet has a better chance of finding a new home with a rescue than with a kill shelter such as MDAS. Second, MDAS administration claims that they have no idea where dogs are being dumped in Redlands, though, as previously reported, volunteers and rescues from out of the area have no problem locating stray animals, such as the 70 above found in just three days. Had this owner thrown his dog out of his car in the Redlands, the chance of him being hit by another car and killed, or simply starving to death, is exceedingly high, since MDAS has ‘no idea’ where the animals are.
Third, locals report that when calls about abandoned animals are made to Homestead Police Department, the area in which the Redlands is located, they are directed to call MDAS. However, they say when they call MDAS, “Miami-Dade acts like it’s a hassle, to come all the way down to Homestead. I know this for a fact, cause when I lived in Homestead, I made a few calls to Animal Services.” Homestead does not have a physical location to which people can turn in animals. People wanting to dispose of animals must drive an average of 90 minutes one way in order to bring them to MDAS.
The fourth reason, and a very alarming one, is that MDAS has a ‘script’ by which local residents who call the shelter wanting to turn in their animals, are being informed by shelter employees that it is closed to owner turn-ins. Here is the exclusive transcript of one such conversation, provided to Examiner by Ms. Michele Wacker, a member of Poodle and Pooch Rescue, the Central Florida group who traveled to the Redlands a few weeks ago on an emergency rescue mission to pick up abandoned animals. The names of the workers have been omitted pending an investigation by MDAS.