Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Carmel on the Case: Animal Services
There's a major change ahead for Miami-Dade's Animal Shelter. It will soon start releasing animals to rescue groups so they can get medical treatment. The decision follows months of harsh criticism. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is - On The Case.
WSVN--This little dog is fighting for his life.
He's got an upper respiratory disease and so does this mommy cat and her kitten.
These animals have all been rescued from Miami-Dade Animal Services by another shelter which is trying to save their lives.
They were held for five days at the Miami-Dade facility before being released under a policy that has drawn a lot of criticism.
No matter how young - sick or injured an animal is - the shelter will not release it for medical care.
Jeannette Christos: "There are organizations and rescue groups that have veterinarians - have vet techs - that have facilities that can take care of these sick animals..and they won't let us do it."
But the policy is changing according to assistant county manager Alex Munos who says starting next month - the shelter will allow rescue groups to take animals out right away - in a medical foster care program.
Alex Munos: "This way we can deal with the more severe injuries that the shelter may not be capable of dealing with. You know we do address minor issues and other health care issues and try to administer as much health care as possible within our capabilities."
The decision comes as the founder and CEO of the Tri-County Humane Society took aim at the five day hold policy.
Jeannette Christos: "I can't keep quiet anymore. I just can't do it."
Christos sent an e-mail to Miami-Dade's county manager claiming animals were dying at an alarming rate because they were held without care and got sick or sicker as a result.
Last January - a Seven News investigation revealed how even seriously injured animals - like this dog that was hit by a car - were being held without significant medical treatment for the five day period.
Jeannette Christos: "Policy or not that's inhumane."
Christos says in many cases the five day wait was a death sentence.
Jeannette Christos: "We weren't having the mommies die or the puppies die or the pregnant dogs die. Our death rate was almost zero."
Carmel Cafiero: "Petey here is one of the successes. He was rescued from Miami-Dade Animal Services. When he was - he had a disease that is sometimes fatal caused by ticks and he had pneumonia. Today - a month later - maybe six or seven hundred dollars in medical care - and Petey is almost ready to be put up for adoption."
But not all cases have such happy endings.
Precious is the only survivor from a litter of six.
Christos has told miami dade officials - eighty-five percent of the animals Tri-County has rescued from the shelter recently are so sick - they're dying.
But Miami-Dade county believes problems with respiratory diseases at the shelter are not that bad.
Alex Munos: "I can tell you that from our experience in the shelter and the numbers of animals that are experiencing the upper respiratory diseases - it doesn't support what Tri-County is saying."
But clearly the complaints of the rescue community have been heard.
And they tell me - doing away with the five day hold is great news for the animals and the people who care for them.
Earlier today, animal services contacted Seven News again to respond to our story.
It says any animal who needs medication is checked by a vet and does receive antibiotics.
It also says any animal with a bone or joint injury, does receive stitches or a bandage when appropriate.
If you have a story for Carmel:
Call her in Dade at 305-627-CLUE
Or in Broward at 954-921-CLUE