Miami-Dade County Plans to Outlaw Killing of Adoptable Animals

Co-founder of Animal Support Julian Omidi examines the proposal by Miami-Dade County to turn the area into a “no kill” zone for sheltered animals.

The Miami-Dade County Commissioner approved a plan to outlaw the killing of adoptable animals by animal shelters looking to save space and prevent overpopulation.[1]

Although the bill hasn’t been passed, there appears to be significant public support for the measure, which will receive funding through a proposed property tax increase of $10 per $100,000 of property value, which is estimated to raise $20 million annually. In a nonbinding question attached to the November ballot, the proposed tax increase received 65 percent of the vote.

The measure will prevent the killing of roughly 20,000 animals, as well as fund veterinary clinics, programs offering instruction on responsible pet ownership and mobile spaying and neutering services. Nonprofit animal rescue organizations will also be able to receive grants, pending the Miami Dade County Commission’s evaluation of the merits of the nonprofit’s projects.

The county already has a successful animal “save” rate; this year, out of approximately 30,000 animals that have entered the shelter system, more than 80 percent of the sheltered dogs have been adopted, and 60 percent of the cats. The goal of the new “no kill” bill is to increase the number of saves to 90 percent. It is unlikely that all of the animals can be saved, however, since euthanasia is sometimes the only humane alternative for dogs and cats that are very ill or seriously injured.

The proposing commissioner, Commissioner Jose Diaz, says that the goal of the new “no kill” policy is, in addition to saving the lives of adoptable animals, to save the money that would otherwise be used for euthanasia. It is estimated that the annual fund would be less than the $20 million that would be allocated from the proposed tax increase if the department was managed conscientiously.

Because Animal Service wasn’t a department that was properly budgeted, a grass roots lobbying organization, Pets Trust Miami, drew up the “no kill” bill based upon the advice and data from animal rights experts across the country, and brought the bill directly to the voting public. Although there are opponents of the proposed property tax increase, in the 30 years the Animal Service department has existed, it hasn’t received enough funding to manage the animal overpopulation problem adequately.

Although the bill would make provisions for mobile spaying/neutering centers, it will not fund new stationary spay/neuter veterinary clinics in lower-income sections of Miami-Dade. The South Florida Veterinary Association has declared that the existing clinics could handle a weekly additional 1,500 spayings and neuterings, which would be essential to achieving the 90 percent save rate.

[1] Brecher, Elinor: Miami Dade Commissioner Oks Animal Welfare Plan 6/18/2013 Miami Herald