New Miami-Dade Animal Services lacks many basic necessities

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Before even walking into the  brand-new, multi-million dollar Miami Dade Animal Services building, it became obvious that the shelter still has serious problems. The parking situation is a huge one. It was poorly planned and is inconvenient for those trying to visit the shelter. On a Monday at noon, there was not one parking space available. To make a poor situation worse, when trying to find a parking space on one side of the building, there is nowhere to turn around at the end of the lot, so if there are four cars in the lot looking for a space to park, all four cars must back up through the lot to get out. I was forced to park across the street from the shelter outside the UPS facility, next to their fence, on grass and dirt. This was on a Monday afternoon. It’s difficult to imagine what the situation is like on a weekend. Whoever designed this parking lot and planned for the number of cars sorely miscalculated.

When I asked the director of the shelter, Alex Muñoz, about this problem, he was dismissive. “There’s lots of parking,” he said. I replied that there were no parking spaces available. He said, “There’s plenty of parking in the building.” I was mystified and asked, “You mean there is indoor parking?” Instead of giving me the courtesy of a response (I am from Chicago and we do have indoor parking), he sneered at me and walked away. Hardly the attitude of someone who wants people to feel welcome at the new shelter.

Once inside the shelter, things did not get better. Something good about the new shelter is that the dogs are now housed in a place where there is air conditioning. However, the fact that the dogs are housed in small cages — tiny, actually — with no outdoor access, is horrible. Not one dog is in a kennel that has access to the outdoors. Most of the dogs — even the really large ones — are in small cages with drains to catch the urine and excrement that the dogs leave in the same small area where they eat and sleep. It’s really disgusting. And while the workers do seem to try to keep the kennels clean, when dogs are not allowed to potty as needed, they have no choice but to use their kennel as a toilet area.

Small dogs and cute fluffy dogs probably get walked often during the day, but large dogs and dogs who look “scary” may never get walked, according to volunteers. One cage had two piles of excrement in it when I passed by. The poor dog wanted to get some attention from me, but she kept trying — and was unable to —  avoid the large pile by the door of the cage.

Almost none of the dogs in the cages have bedding. This is very strange because in late December of 2015, a benefactor donated 250 Kuranda beds to the shelter. Volunteers remember this clearly because they spent a weekend putting them together. When I asked Mr. Muñoz where the Kuranda beds were, at first he denied that they ever had them. I persisted and he finally said, “Oh, those? That was a long time ago.”

Really, Alex? Six months is a long time?  Kuranda beds cost about $75 each. That’s a donation of approximately $19,000 dollars in beds for the dogs. Where are the beds? Why don’t the dogs have any bedding to make their tiny cages a tiny bit more comfortable?

In addition to the tiny cages, no outdoor access, and lack of bedding, the shelter is designed so that most people only visit the first few pods, and the dogs in the rear of the building — in pods I, J, K and L — don’t get as many visitors. This problem could be solved by simply rotating the dogs so that all dogs get a chance to be seen, but the shelter does not do that. When I walked through the various pods, in one pod almost all of the kennel cards were missing. When I asked where they were, no one knew. I persisted, and much later, someone informed me that the information was on the other side of the cages. The only problem is that the other side of the cages was not accessible to anyone looking at the dogs.

There are dogs in large rooms at the front of each pod, but again, the shelter doesn’t make things easy. There is no way to know any information about the dogs in those rooms. Their kennel cards are not readily available, so that if someone is taken with a particular dog in that room, they won’t know whom to ask for.

In one kennel, the kennel card did not match the dog. Upon investigation, I realized that there were, in fact, three kennel cards in the plastic envelope. None of them appeared to actually belong to the dog who was in the kennel.

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The kennel cards themselves are poorly conceived. They include no specific information about the animals. Instead of being allowed to write notes on them like “good on a leash” or “likes other dogs,” the volunteers are forbidden from writing any such  notes on the cards. Prospective adopters must guess at the temperament of the dog.

While wandering through the kennels, it was clear that sick dogs were mixed in with the healthy ones. When the kennel staff were asked about a dog’s obvious illness (runny eyes, persistent cough, bloody diarrhea), they knew nothing. Exhibition rooms were empty, the shelter choosing to pass on the opportunity to showcase special dogs .

Something that is strange for an open-access county shelter is the small number of cats there. There were fewer than 100 cats at the shelter and many of them were kittens. Apparently, Miami does not have a stray cat problem because there were not many adult cats available for adoption. Some of the kittens were housed alone, crying pitifully for company. Many shelters try to house kittens of the same age together so that they have company and are socialized.

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Tiny 8-week-old kitten crying for attention

Perhaps the saddest part of the visit to the new-but-not-improved shelter is that the same practices are going on as at the old shelter — dogs being killed and rescues not allowed to pull them (see “Shelter mixup to cost small dog his life“). And anyone is allowed to adopt a dog with little information about how to successfully integrate the dog into a new household. Worse, there was no information to be seen in the lobby about spay and neuter programs. The failure was clearly evident when after the “Clear the Shelter” day on Saturday, dogs were being returned within 24 hours of their adoption. Upon their return to the shelter, such dogs are labeled owner return, a label that makes them more at risk than other dogs. When a dog is returned before even 24 hours have passed, that dog has not been given a fair chance to adjust to a new living situation. But Miami Dade Animal Services doesn’t really seem to care. There are no adoption counselors who actually sit down with those adopting to counsel them. There is no follow-up. No one calls to see how the dog is doing in the new home and offer advice if needed.

And communication continues to be a problem at this shelter. One man came into the shelter with his dog. He had been told on the phone that he could bring his dog to the shelter to meet with prospective dogs to make sure they got along. Again, Mr. Muñoz showed his lack of people skills when he clearly showed he had better things to do than explain to this man why he was given incorrect information. In fact, he walked away mid-sentence. Other people mentioned bringing dogs in to get tags and being told by shelter staff to put their animals in the car while conducting business at the shelter– in Miami on a 90-degree day!

Many people won’t even go to the shelter to adopt an animal once they realize that there is no parking available. It’s a new shelter with tiny kennels, no outdoor access for dogs, minimal information about the animals, and sick animals mixed with the healthy. Poor planning, poor execution — it’s not unexpected, but it’s very disappointing.

Miami-Dade, you could have done better!IMG_7166

 

Please note: Only respectful, profanity-free comments will be posted.

 

20 thoughts on “New Miami-Dade Animal Services lacks many basic necessities

  1. All those donated dog beds surely couldnt walk away please look into where exactly those much needed beds are and make this a better environment for these innocent angels.

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  2. As I have been posting about the HORRIFIC conditions and mismanagement at MDAS for many years on my FB page, “The Hidden Truth Behind The Bars Of Miami-Dade Animal Services”,NONE of this surprises me. The county mayor and the county commissioners condone the corruption and incompetent care by simply believing the lies coming from the management, despite all evidence presented. I have been stating for a number of years since the county FINALLY started buiding the new shelter, that a new building will solve NOTHING of the many challenges facing this shelter. Incompetent, uncaring staff. Incompetent, uncaring management that makes, at last check, over $300,000 to manage INCOMPETENTLY. The lies and hiding of killing of animals, etc. And it will NEVER get better as long as a certain segment of the animal rights movement actually support the incompetency for purely personal gain. And it certainly will never get better if we continue to elect corrupt public officials who only care about votes and NOT about changing the conditions honestly,

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  3. None of this surprises me one bit. As I have been posting about the corruption and mismanagement of MDAS for a number of years on my FB page, “The Hidden Truth Behind The Bars Of Miami-Dade Animal Services”. The county mayor and the county commissioners condone the mismanagement by continuing to believe the lies coming from MDAS management despite ALL evidence to the contrary. As I have stated ever since construction on the new shelter began, a new building with the same incompetent, corrupt management and staff will do NOTHING to change conditions for the animals in this very challenging shelter and within the community at large. It is simply a “feel good” exercise by the corrupt politicians to make it appear that they have honest concern for the animals. And while a new building is certainly welcome, the same poor management doesn’t help to provide humane care for the animals that are housed in it. Especially when you have a management that at last check makes well over $300,000 to NOT do their jobs and corrupt politicians that actually support the dishonest narrative. Lying about abuse and incompetence and hiding the killing of innocent animals all to keep a public positions should be a CRIMINAL ACT. But the corruption is systemic within the county and is actually supported by some of the very same animal rights activists, who for personal gain, refuse to support HONEST change. And these conditions will continue until we stop electing these same corrupt representatives and replace them with HONEST, CONCERNED people who truly care about the plight of our animal population in the county. And we no longer allow access to these DISHONEST advocates who have undue influence in the operation of the shelter, simply for personal gain.

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  4. Mr. Munoz please do something to help these dogs and cats. You are in charge you can make a change. I know people get jaded after working under such difficult conditions, but please remember these animals depend on YOU.

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  5. None of this surprises me since there are no real animal advocates working at MDAS. As for Alex Munoz, he never has an intelligent answer for anything…ever. He is dismissive and rude and should be fired along with everyone in a position of power. There is nothing humane about this shelter. It may look all clean and pretty but the “bad” practices are the same. MDAS needs new blood…people that actually care about the well being of these poor animals.

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  6. Still waiting to hear if after 30 years in old shelter without an X-ray machine there is one in the new facility. All I have heard is no one seems to know.
    Shameful that a world class city doesn’t even have basic X-ray services.
    I brought this up last year at a county sponsored animal welfare workshop and it was implied that with the new facility there would be X-ray available.

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  7. How can Miade Dade County officials allow this people to be so unorganized, rude , inefficient. I have been there n they are so mean to humans imagine how they are treating this babies that have no way of saying what they are going thru. If the county officials don’t lisent to us complaining for them. They should be fired all of them. I bet the have great salaries to do nothing. Get a heart make it better for all.

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  8. Sadly the beds probably disappeared because they became soiled or chewed on and staff didn’t want to clean them.. Unfortunately when a shelter is under poor management it trickles all the way down to staff and ultimately the dogs pay the price.. The only thing that could change this situation is a manager who cares and a big volunteer staff to help get the dogs walked. I would hope that they have SOME exercise yards to put them in and let them stretch their legs. If they don’t have yards that should be a priority..

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  9. It will never change. Its Dade County. Very very corrupt. Just like Broward County. Same BS. If they had an ounce of care, they would demand mandatory spay neuter. They wouldnt be dumping cats off on some property out west with a fence around it but no roof so the cats climb out and get mauled by the packs of dogs running loose. Cat Network is part of that mess and now BCAC has joined in to kill more cats off site. Oh, Please people. There is just too much BS. Its not going to change until people grow some big balls, ban together with their thinking caps, and go after them properly rather than just complaining about things.

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  10. I was told that an X-ray machine was offered to MDAS when they were at the old building and Kathy Labrada turned it down. She told me that herself. She gave me a reason, but I am still scratching my head as to why she didn’t feel that the “clinic” at the shelter wouldn’t need to be able to have the added diagnostic ability. My guess is that there is no X-ray machine at the new facility either. I knew months ago that the only improvements that we would see after the move to the new shelter would be indoor bathrooms, as opposed to the filthy out door porta-potties we have been suffering with for years at the old building, and central A/C that would make both the animals and workers more comfortable. The shelter is so poorly run that a friend had to go two days in a row to adopt a dog because they couldn’t find the dog. She was finally handed to my friend after the shelter closed, un-spayed and with an appointment date for the spay in October!! The dog is obviously pregnant, something they apparently missed in the exam, so that bit of information wasn’t revealed in the paperwork. Instead they claimed they couldn’t spay her because she had full blown URI, after being in the shelter for a mere four days (incubation time for showing symptoms is 10-14 days). Needless to say, the dog does not have a runny nose, nor is she coughing. Now my friend will have to not only wait several months to get her spayed, but find homes for the puppies as well!!

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