Tuesday, September 21, 2004
Carmel on the Case: Mishandled Animals
Seven News has learned - major changes are in the works for Miami Dade's Animal Shelter. Among other things - the police department will no longer run the facility. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is - on the case.
(WSVN) -- There's no doubt running an animal shelter is a difficult job.
Running the Miami Dade shelter - which is too old and too small - is especially difficult.
Now after three years in charge - the Miami Dade Police Department - will be replaced.
Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess: "Animal Services really isn't part of the core mission of - of a police department."
County Manager George Burgess has decided to create a separate county department.....A department that will be run by a professional.
George Burgess: "And I don't want to say that the police department did a terrible job. I don't want to say that at all. But certainly Animal Services should be run by folks that are experts in the field of animal care and control."
When the police department first took over there were high hopes it could improve conditions for lost and unwanted pets.
But as Seven News has documented - there have been major problems here.
Diseases spread throughout the shelter and sick dogs were put up for adoption.
George Burgess: "She was dead in two weeks."
We discovered questionable euthanasia practices with pictures from inside the euthanasia room, where more than a dozen dogs waited to die amid blood and feces and the bodies of other dogs.
George Burgess: "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."
The room was later cleaned and animals are now euthanized one at a time.
But seven news has obtained a report on the shelter just submitted by the humane society of the united states which was hired to evaluate the facility.
Among the findings...
The shelter operations were disorganized and unstructured.
Some animals were handled in an inappropriate manner - for example - picking up puppies by the arms and tossing them back in cages.
The report called appalling the way wild cats are handled.
And it concluded the facility lacks a well defined system for processing incoming animals and for properly managing their health.
The concerns are similar to those raised by local animal activists at a public hearing last June.
George Burgess: "They don't know what they're doing. They don't know how to handle animals."
The department responded by shutting out volunteers.
Now the manager says he'll want those volunteers to return.
George Burgess: "We do a good job serving the public if we work with the public."
The Humane Society report will be used as a blueprint for change at the shelter. If all goes well and the manager's recommendations adopted at this week's budget hearing - he says he hopes to have a director on board by the end of the year.
If there's something you think we should investigate - give me a call or send an e-mail It just might be our next - case.
For more information,or if you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or in Broward at 954-921-CLUE