28 Jan Let’s talk about Miami
Last year while on a quick trip to Miami, I arranged a tour of Miami Dade Animal Services (MDAS) or as many instagram rescuers know it…Urgent Dogs of Miami. Anyone who follows this account knows this one of the worst shelters in the country. Day in and day out animals listed as “code red” are posted – this means these animals are imminently set for euthanasia. Many people are surprised to hear that these are not old dogs. These are generally very young dogs between the ages of one and three. To my disgust, most of the young females on death row had previously birthed one litter, if not many more. There’s really no way to express in any amount of words the sadness of visiting a shelter like this. For starters, there is a line outside the door when you pull in. This is not a line of adopters, it is a line of people dumping pets. With explanations as simple as “the dog ate my shoe” or often no explanation at all people sign away their pets without a second thought.
Once inside MDAS these pets are walked to cages and locked inside with not so much as blanket on the concrete floor. The entire west wing of the shelter is open air…meaning when it’s hot the dogs sit in the heat and when it’s cold at night, they freeze. I have even heard stories of heavy rains flooding the west wing and dogs standing for days in inches of water unable to lie down without drowning. On my walk-through of this shelter I never crossed paths with anyone looking at the dogs. The halls were empty and the only thing you could see was the occasional paw sticking out under a cage.
Five hundred dogs and not one perspective adopter and not one staff member caring for or addressing the needs of the dozens of dogs that were left in these cages in distress. One dog in particular who’s ID number was A1739465 was emaciated curled in a ball on the floor and I actually believed the dog to be dead. Only days later would I learn from the Urgent Dogs of Miami Instagram feed that this dog was alive while I was in the shelter but he was euthanized three days later after sitting alone on a concrete floor, too weak to even lift his head, and given no medical care or comfort. For this dog entering the shelter was not salvation. It offered no comforts or care, it simply prolonged his suffering, clinging to life without hope.
This dog was not alone in its suffering. He was joined by dozens of others. Which leads you to ask HOW does a shelter just outside a bustling and beautiful city like Miami find itself in such disgusting shape? The only thing that truly answers this question is that people either don’t know or don’t care. People in Miami are still buying dogs while the euthanasia list soars every single week in the local shelter. It is time people say what these animals cannot. Enough is enough. Gandhi said, “The greatness of a nation and a society’s moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,” if this is true then Miami would seemingly be morally bankrupt. I do not believe this to be the case. I believe that people are simply not educated on the subject and this subject is simply not discussed. Educating people on the horrors of shelter life is how we will change this system.
I cried like a baby when I left MDAS, having in this short visit witnessed a dog walked into the euthanasia room head down, hope lost. People always say I could never go to a place like that, I couldn’t deal and what I would say to these people is nobody wants to go but someone has too. If we keep being unable to face these problems they will remain problems. Shelter visits while FULL of misery have also provided me with great joy because lives were saved. On this trip to Miami I pulled Lola, a sweet and loving girl who would not let me pass by her cage without touching her. Lola had what most dogs at MDAS have, a severe upper respiratory infection that resulted from untreated kennel cough because no treatment is given when the cough is first detected she sat for weeks while it turned into pneumonia. I had Lola in boarding for only a week and she was adopted to a loving home in Miami and I get daily updates of her life from her instagram page @LolaMijares. When I pulled Lola the shelter attached a note saying if she not taken by me they had determined that the most humane thing to do would be euthanize. How truly shocking it would be deemed humane to kill her at two years of age when after only a few days on simple medication Lola’s infection subsided and she was running down the beach with her new family. Lola was not so very different from the other dogs in cages all around her except that her story had a happy ending. A happy ending because her family chose to rescue her.
There are not enough rescue groups on earth to save every shelter dog while so many people turn their back on this epidemic of over population. VISIT A SHELTER. SAVE A LIFE. Be part of the solution.
Special thank you to True & Faithful Rescue for pulling Lola and countless others for me over the past few months.