Tuesday, December 2, 2003
Carmel on the Case: Questionable Euthanasia Practices at County Animal Shelter
A criminal investigation tonight into Miami-Dade Animal Services. At issue - allegations of abuse at the facility which is run by the Miami-Dade Police Department. The allegations focus on the euthanasia room -- and tonight, some disturbing pictures -- a warning they are graphic. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On The Case.
(WSVN) -- These dogs were photographed during their final hours in the final run at Miami-Dade animal control.
These pictures - from inside the euthanasia room - show more than a dozen dogs in a filthy room.
Here one dog appears to have choked on his leash.
While another waits with the leash around its belly.
And in the middle of the blood and feces and death...A puppy sits straight up and stares straight ahead.
Broward County Humane Society'sJoAnne Roman: "It's certainly inhumane for the animals both two and four legged. National standard in animal welfare is one animal at a time should be euthanized."
Roman says there is no excuse for animals to be in a room where others are dying around them.
JoAnne Roman: "But animals are extremely sensitive and perceptive and they understand fear. They can smell it. They can hear it."
Carmel Cafiero: "What do you think of these pictures? Captain Carlos Vasquez: Well these pictures are disturbing to me."
Captain Carlos Vasquez is in charge of Animal Services in Miami-Dade.
He says he was not aware the humane society recommends only one animal be in the euthanasia room at a time.
Carmel Cafiero: "Is there anything in your mind that could justify this?"
Captain Carlos Vasquez: "Nothing would justify to me have all those animals and I certainly will address it with my staff."
Animal advocates insist this scene is not uncommon at the county facility.
Vasquez says that's not so.
Captain Carlos Vasquez: "I walk through the shelter twice a day and I've never seen this type of situation."
But when I walked with Vasquez through the shelter we found a problem within minutes.
The county says it kills only sick animals.
Yet the dogs in this run were the next to be put down.
And there front and center - a dog with bright eyes and a cold nose.
The explanation- he was put here because he "might" be sick.
Carmel Cafiero: "But, if they think he's sick, and they put him in the run with all the really sick dogs then doesn't he for sure get sick?"
Shelter Worker: "That's what these runs are all here for."
The captain ordered the dog out and checked by a vet - he got a clean bill of health and is now up for adoption.
Vasquez and his fellow officers will now have to deal with questions from the State Attorney's Office. This four-page letter signed by Ms. Whistleblower makes multiple allegations of physical and financial abuses at the shelter. Expect everyone from employees to volunteers to be questioned.
If you have a story for Carmel, you can reach her at 305-627-CLUE or 954-921-CLUE... or you can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.