At least one dog that Miami Dade Animal Services labeled with the often deadly label “aggressive” turned out to be anything but aggressive. He happily cavorted with his rescuers upon his release. Not the biting, growling menace that was indicated on his kennel card. The Miami Dade Animal Services continues to be plagued with complaints that they mislabel dogs which makes it more difficult, if not impossible, to get them adopted or pulled by rescue. In fact, from December 1 of 2015 to now seven dogs have no picture online.
And in spite of the fact that an animal advocate met with the heads of the Miami Dade Animal Shelter over two years ago with concerns about dogs being labeled “aggressive,” and the assurances from those in charge that this would change — kennel cards are still being shown with “aggressive” and “caution will bite” on them. Even when subsequent video shows the dog in question is sweet and friendly.
For example, the video of Dexter in his kennel shows he does not appear to be aggressive. And a Facebook post says that he took treats gently from the visitor. A volunteer wrote on the PetHarbor thread (with no picture):
I met him. He’s a giant sweetie. MDAS staff won’t allow him out of the kennel to properly evaluate. It’s awful.”
While Dexter was given the often deadly label “aggressive,” the video taken when he left the shelter leaves the viewer with a huge question about the “aggressive” label. The only thing aggressive about this dog is the way his tail wags furiously. He approaches adults and the toddler nearby with a happy, relaxed mouth and tail moving from side to side without stopping. Watch the video carefully. This is the dog that MDAS is claiming was so aggressive they had to sedate him to examine him (see MDAS response below).
There are many dogs who have been in the shelter for as long as one month without any picture of them being posted online for volunteers to network and try to save. Here is a list of some of them and the dates they entered the shelter:
RASCAL- A1743638 12/03/15
NESTER- A1748092 12/21/15
LOKI- A1740359 12/22/15
DEXTER- A1748842 12/25/15
SUSAN- A1749771 01/02/16
BRUCE- A1749998 01/04/16
LILLY- A1750000 01/04/16
Without a picture of a dog, it’s impossible to network them. And gratuitously labeling a dog “aggressive” without valid reasons ends up killing many dogs. Taylor and Dexter were two of the lucky dogs. And as Dexter’s “freedom” video shows, this is not an aggressive dog. Does the shelter lack qualified people to temperament test the dogs? And if they do, why are they having people who are unqualified stick labels on dogs that makes them unadoptable and could very well kill them?
Regarding Rascal’s lack of a photo, the poster commented: “The attached picture is a listing on PetHarbor of a dog named RASCAL who has been at MDAS since 12/3/15. Please note the fact that there is still NO PICTURE of this dog attached to his listing. How does it help save animals if MDAS does NOT even bother to make sure these dogs have pictures uploaded so that prospective adopters get to see the animals they maybe interested in adopting??”
When questions were asked about the “aggressive” label and lack of photos for Taylor and Dexter, the shelter responded in an email: The dogs were not photographed by the impounding officers due to behavioral issues, Taylor required sedation in order to remove him from the vehicle and continued to display aggression throughout his time in the shelter. Both dogs were evaluated by veterinary staff while under sedation due to their behavioral issues. I’m afraid your assumption regarding the dog being killed is inaccurate, Taylor was released to rescue with a behavioral waiver and Dexter has an adoption hold for today pending acceptance of the behavioral waiver. The Department makes every effort to rehome adoptable animals with public safety being among the many factors taken into consideration. As an animal advocate I am certain you understand the challenges associated with rehoming animals with documented aggression.”
Are dogs being labeled “aggressive” so that they are easier to kill and so they don’t count in the “kill” statistics? In response to an inquiry by this writer about several dogs killed in November, the shelter’s response for why the dogs were killed was as follows:
Nina: ID# A1739497 (1 year old) humanely euthanized (Pet is aggressive. No commitment/hold/inquiry Due to public safety, humane euthanasia is indicated)
Penny: # A1739029 (1 year old) humanely euthanized (Pet is aggressive. No commitment/hold/inquiry Due to public safety, humane euthanasia is indicated)
Sony: #A 1738027 (3 years old) humanely euthanized (Pet is aggressive. No commitment/hold/inquiry Due to public safety, humane euthanasia is indicated)
Rambo: #A1542373 (4 years old) humanely euthanized (Pet is aggressive. No commitment/hold/inquiry Due to public safety, humane euthanasia is indicated)
It’s also an interesting “coincidence” that most of the dogs labeled “aggressive” appear to be pit bulls or pit mixes or other large breed dogs. Those typically take the longest to get adopted (especially since Miami Dade County has BSL). Is it just a coincidence or is it intentional? More transparency is needed and less labeling of dogs. A good start would be to install a video camera in the euthanasia room and make the film available through FOIA. That’s a great place to make sure humane procedures are being followed.
For more information about this follow The Hidden Truth Behind the Bars of Miami Dade Animal Services on Facebook.