A Florida Rescue, No Paw Left Behind, is devastated that one of their rescues, a dog who was adopted four years ago, was killed after being found injured by Miami Dade Animal Services (MDAS).
ShelterMe talked with Jacquelyn Johnston, the founder of No Paw Left Behind. “This should never have happened,” she said. “The dog was failed by multiple agencies in just one month.”
Peanut was a 14 week-old puppy when she and her two siblings were pulled from Miami Dade Animal Services in 2012. They were covered in mange and they were very thin. The rescue provided medical treatment and found them adoptive homes. Until recently, the rescue had no reason to think otherwise.
But a month ago, Peanut’s adopter couldn’t keep her for family-related reasons. Instead of returning her to No Paw Left Behind, per the adoption contract, she took the dog to the Broward Humane Society. If the Broward Humane Society had scanned Peanut, they would have found her microchip and learned that she belonged to No Paw Left Behind. “We get our dogs,” averred Johnston. “We drove to Maryland to get a dog who had our chip from several years before. There is nothing that will stop us from reclaiming a dog who was once adopted by us. We also reclaimed a dog with a shattered leg from Palm Beach.”
A month after Broward Humane Society adopted out Peanut, she was found, apparently injured, by an Animal Control Officer from MDAS. It appeared that Peanut was injured, but a video taken at the shelter revealed that while she was breathing quickly (probably from stress), she was alert and her head was up. She was looking around.
And that is when Peanut was failed for the second time. According to Johnston, Peanut was picked up at 11:49 in the morning. The shelter emailed and called the number on the microchip at around 12:30 pm. At 12:52 pm, immediately after seeing the email, the rescue tried to contact MDAS by phone and by email. No one picked up the phone at the shelter. They emailed the Lost and Found department and let them know that a volunteer was on the way and asked for more information.
By 12:55 pm, a volunteer was on her way to the shelter. In spite of emails and phone calls, the rescue had not been able to contact anyone at MDAS. No one picked up the phone, and no one responded to their emails. At 1:05 pm they emailed the rescue coordinators to tell them that they had been unable to get anyone on the phone. The email also asked for more information. At 1:24 pm, they were told that she had already been killed.
Johnston has sent emails to the mayor, the county commissioners, the mayor’s opponent in the election, Alex Muñoz (director of the shelter), and various news agencies. In it, she states in part:
There is no excuse for the failure to provide supportive care for Peanut for even just a couple of hours to afford the rescue, the owners, the opportunity to claim her. There is no excuse, no lack of resources, and no remedy for ASD’s failure to answer their phones or emails to realize that we were on the way to claim Peanut.
Let me remind everyone that this is a brand-new multi-million dollar facility, the annual budget has increased from 10 million to over 21 million in the last five years, and that the veterinary staff has increased from 19 Veterinary Clinic Employees in FY 12-13 to an impressive 32 Veterinary Clinic Employees in FY 16-17.
Every day since Peanut’s death, ASD has sent out medical emergency pleas for other dogs, affording those dogs the opportunities to be rescued and receive private veterinary treatment. In fact, dogs in much worse condition have been provided supportive care and allowed to wait, for hours, while they are promoted for rescue. One of those dogs, Samson A1826048, was in immediate need of medical care. This dog was promoted for rescue, and we volunteered to rescue him. In fact, we have rescued three dogs this year in far worse condition than Peanut’s notes suggest. All three have been provided emergency care and are now living happy and healthy in new loving homes.
We are devastated by the loss of Peanut. It is beyond comprehension that ASD has not provided an explanation as to how this fatal gross negligence was allowed and is continuing to refuse to produce Peanut’s records in a reasonable time frame.
Peanut died scared, hurting, and alone. She died surrounded by strangers who denied her the opportunity to receive the love and help of those of us who have known her since she was a tiny injured puppy at ASD in 2012.
Animal Services denied Peanut care and comfort. Animal Services continues to deny Peanut’s family the right to view her records. In fact, the reckless disregard for Peanut has only been exacerbated by the Departments disregard for providing the requested information regarding her death.
The rescue is demanding that MDAS provide time-stamped records showing exactly what happened to Peanut in the final hour of her life. Indeed, instead of apologizing for the untimely death of Peanut and providing the medical records that the rescue is entitled to examine, the shelter is treating the request as a standard request for records, and in emails, stated that it might be three to four weeks before that request will be filled.
Johnston also confided, “My rescue will probably be banned because of this. But I gave them over a week to let me know where communication broke down.” Johnston said that there are plenty of dogs in need in Miami. “If I want a Miami dog,” she told ShelterMe, “I just have to drive around. There are plenty of stray dogs who need help.”
Shelters make mistakes — people are only human. Dogs are killed by mistake, the shelter admits to the error, and staff are retrained. But the shelter has to admit when a mistake was made. Johnston’s email says,
In Peanut’s memory, we demand the employees who did not follow protocol be held accountable and that the training be provided to all staff immediately to avoid any such tragedy in the future.
On the day of Peanut’s death, a volunteer went to the Lost and Found department to find out what had happened. She was told that “someone was supposed to be in charge of answering the phone while she was at lunch.”
That didn’t happen. And Peanut paid the price.