Please note: This article was originally published on ShelterMe.tv in 2016.
The Solution (Part II to “Volunteers feed and save abandoned, scared dogs — big and small — in Redland, Florida”):
It appears that any solutions to the huge problem of stray and abandoned animals in the rural areas of Miami-Dade County, like Redland and the Rock Pit Quarry, will have to be addressed by the volunteers. Rescues have approached the shelter, asking if there is a process for pulling stray dogs from the county (not the shelter, the stray dogs). According to Jennie Nicholas of Pennsylvania, the shelter never responded to her email. She said that when she wrote Miami-Dade Animal Services (MDAS), “I got zero response. I wrote an email asking if I needed any special permission to take the dogs and the email went unanswered.”
Nicholas isn’t letting that stop her from helping the dogs in Florida. She formed her own nonprofit called Hair of the Dog and plans to fundraise so that she can help transport abandoned dogs from Florida’s rural areas to Pennsylvania and other areas where the dogs can find home. She especially plans to help the harder-to-place medium and large dogs. Many Florida rescues will take the smaller dogs who find homes more easily, but the medium and large dogs are often ignored by rescues. Nicholas is hoping that she can help with that. Visit her website to see the heartbreaking video of the Redland situation.
Another rescuer, from Poodle and Pooch Rescue, a group that rescued 74 dogs in just one weekend from the Redland area, agrees that MDAS has been extremely unhelpful.
A small group of volunteers who call themselves the Redland Rock Pit Abandoned Dog Project work to find and feed the hundreds of abandoned dogs in the Redland area and the Rock Pit Quarry several miles away. They network to find rescues who will take the dogs so that they can be saved. But the local shelter, Miami-Dade Animal Services, does not seem to want to help.
The following email was sent by an MDAS employee to Rebecca Lynch, the President of Poodle and Pooch Rescue, the group that saved 74 dogs in two days in the Redland area. They found over 50 dogs in just seven hours in an area about 20 miles square.
I just spoke with you by phone. Can you please advise of the cross streets/locations that the dogs your rescue group has been picking up. We have been patrolling the area but as you know it is a fairly large area and it would help us narrow it down. Also, Animal Services will be happy to assist you when you come back down with the locating and capturing of the dogs. We both have the same goal, saving animals & protecting them from harm. We can accomplish more if we work together.
Sean Gallagher, Investigations Supervisor, Animal Services Department
It would be obvious to most people — even those not in rescue — that stray and abandoned dogs, frightened dogs, dogs searching for food and shelter, don’t stay in one place. They roam, they beg for food, they try to find safe places to hide. To think that a cross-street would enable stray dogs to be found is disingenuous at best. Yet the mayor’s office sent the following in an email regarding the Redland situation: “the shelter has rescued over 1,100 strays from the Redlands/Homestead/Florida City area in this time period. ASD continues to stand ready to respond to any issues identified by volunteers and asks all individuals to provide specific addresses and locations so that they can respond and follow-up on stray animals or cruelty issues.” Note that 1,100 dogs were rescued in three years. That’s around one dog a day, yet a rescue was able to rescue 70 dogs in one weekend.
So what is the solution to this problem? Without a strong spay and neuter program, those who live in Miami-Dade County will continue to let their dogs and cats reproduce. The puppies will be given away for free or dumped on the side of the road to die. There is no incentive in this county to spay and neuter animals. In fact, one person living in this county said that people won’t pick up their stray dogs from the shelter because there are fees involved. “It’s much cheaper to just get a free puppy,” they lamented.
That needs to change. Mandatory licensing with additional fees for intact dogs and minimal fees for sterilized dogs would be a start. Free spay and neuter clinics are needed especially in neighborhoods where the cost of the spay/neuter surgery is unaffordable for many.
The community needs to step up and offer their homes to foster the animals who have been dumped. If there were more foster homes, the dogs that the volunteer feed could be taken off the streets as soon as they can be caught. Some of the dogs are ready to jump into the car, but when there is no place for them to go, the volunteers must steel their hearts and leave them behind — hoping that the dog will be there the next day.
With more foster homes, more dogs would go from this:
Jessie was the dog mentioned in the first story who lived outside a trailer with a cat. She was one of the four dogs I took back in my minivan to Chicago. She is currently in my home with another of the Redland dogs, Lexi. Jessie is at the veterinarian at this moment being spayed. The veterinarian will also check her shattered elbow to see if her leg can be saved. Her most desperate wish is to have a cat friend. She adores cats.
With more rescues (and foster homes) who would take the dogs, more dogs could be saved. To help the Redland Rock Pit Abandoned Dog Project consider donating from their Amazon wishlist.
To read about the dogs’ journey from Florida to Chicago, read “Miami -Dade County to Chicago and loving homes: Four dogs’ stories.”
Please comment if you have ideas or thoughts about how this problem can be resolved. If you are local, please get involved!