In the last few weeks, people all over the world have put pen to paper about Broward County animal shelter in Florida, USA. Why build a new shelter that costs $15 million and doesn’t house any more animals than the last shelter? The sum of $15 million spent on what is in effect a glorified slaughterhouse – no doubt with luxurious staff quarters – would have been far better spent on actually saving lives by helping with rehoming and associated projects, such as TNR and high-volume free or low cost sterilization programs.
The writer of this article is English and resides in England, but has been following some goings-on at Broward Animal Care and has decided the situation is more than worthy of a few words on their blog site. This information is quite shocking in itself yet in a way it is just another example of the massive number of incidences of sickening corruption going on in the American shelter system today. The failure of the US government to institute bodies to properly oversee what is happening in their shelter system, is paid for by the homeless pets of the USA, with suffering and often with their lives.
Animals cannot tell anyone what happened to them especially when they are dead, and people aren’t telling either because they are scared for their jobs, their reputation, banishment from the shelter, attacks from friends and relatives of those who stand accused, and afraid even for the very lives of the animals in retaliation. Anyway, who would they tell? It’s becoming more and more obvious that some areas of US Government do not care too much about what is happening to homeless pets. If the public knew what was really going on at these shelters, which some call slaughterhouses – and to all intents and purposes that is in effect what many of them are – there would be a demand for change.
After all, a shelter is a place where animals are sheltered and there is Animal ‘Care’ & Control to oversee what is happening at those shelters – so it must be OK. People are waking up to the reality that the trust placed in their government which assumes that government will do the right thing, is a misplaced trust. People are increasingly realizing how homeless pets – sometimes feral, lost or stolen – who need help are being betrayed, not only by their owners and local communities who do not do enough to care for them – even with a simple TNR program – but also by local governments who do not provide the means by which shelters can be monitored and remedial steps taken when things are so obviously going terribly wrong.
To make matters worse, sadly there are ‘serial trappers’ who are usually people who do not like cats and have nothing better to do than to trap them, whether they are feral cats, strays or someone’s beloved pet – which is often impossible to distinguish – and hand them in to the local kill shelter. Their names and addresses are usually known by the shelters and yet still they accept any number of animals brought in by the serial trappers – ‘no questions asked’ and do little or nothing to deter them.
Not to mention, frequent euthanization by ‘mistake’ when rescue has been arranged and is on its way, or due to space available or a sudden convenient health condition that justified killing them. This is so common it leads one to believe that there is some method in their madness.
Awareness is increasing, on the fact that animals often have little in the way of laws and sufficiently deterrent sentences to protect them. Wouldn’t it be something if the unjustified killing of a poor animal in a shelter were to be criminally or even civilly prosecuted? Even if the community is paying attention, behind closed doors often there is no one to hear them scream.
What was their crime?
A shockingly large proportion of animals at shelters were abandoned and dumped there by their owners when they are too old or sick, or when a relative is sick in the hospital or has died. Perhaps paying vets fees might cause the cutting back of a family holiday that year or whatever.
Adequate veterinary care is simply not available in a large percentage of shelters. Animals who have been dumped at the shelter because they were feral cats and have been injured in a road accident or their owners don’t want to pay vet bills can be very sick or badly injured and just left there to suffer their stray hold, only to be killed, sometimes with quite treatable injuries.
Then there are the many animals who come out of shelters sick with URIs, UTIs, kennel cough, flu and frequently with dangerous viruses. Shelters are often unsanitary and germs breed and thrive in such conditions as these poor creatures are forced to live in. In many shelters it is standard practice to hose the kennels down as an easy way of cleaning – whatever the time of year – and it is a lot easier to hose the cages and cells down while the animals are in there rather than take them out so that is the way it often happens. Naturally when animals are hosed down and left wet in cold stone or steel cages often with one wall made of bars and exposed to the elements that is a recipe for them to get sick.
Another thing frequently seen in the shelter pictures is the cramped conditions in the cages which are far too small and often the food bowl is kept right next to the litter tray which of course is another reason animals so often get very sick in shelters. The stress alone is enough to make some animals very ill or even kill them.
Rescue groups are severely limited as to how many lives they can save due to the likelihood of incurring medical costs – which can and often do run into many hundreds of dollars – to treat illnesses caused by unsanitary conditions, viruses, and stress related conditions etc.- and rescues could save many more lives if this alone were addressed properly.
Animals are very often not killed humanely. For example, at shelters where they use the heartstick method of euthanasia, it is not unusual for animals not to be given anesthesia before they are painfully killed by this method which is known to be inhumane and painful.
There is a constant stream of chilling news reports often with pictures of animals that suffered and died in horrible ways in shelters. Like the dead pit bull in the horrific blood-splattered cell at Hesperia in California recently.
Many animals are dumped simply because at one or two years old they are no longer a kitten or puppy anymore, and no longer so interesting. Often the shelter photograph shows the unmistakable look of bewilderment and betrayal on their faces.
Against this backdrop – here’s the story
There is an alarming situation in Broward County concerning the municipal animal shelter. Three years ago the Board of County Commissioners resolved the following:
“Broward County will develop and implement a financially feasible No Kill Strategic Plan with goals and measurable objectives to include the following programs and services utilized in successful No Kill Communities across the nation, with the goal to become a No Kill Community.”
Since that time, more than 27,000 animals have been euthanized in the county shelter. Staff resist change, and continue to kill animals at 30 days, with empty cages throughout the shelter.
Animal Care in Broward applies for and receives grants to spay/neuter community cats and yet continues to kill community cats in the shelter while spending $230,000 in TNR grant money. Although they are finally drafting legislation to get on board with the modern world and begin a Return to Field program for community cats at the shelter, their own County Parks Department is refusing to participate in the program.
The Shelter has created an overall sense of frustration and oppression throughout the resident, taxpaying, volunteer and rescue community, due to bullying tactics which include fear of an (illegal) retaliation for exercising freedom of speech about shelter practices, such as the looming threat of disqualification as an approved volunteer or rescue partner should anyone dare to disagree with their practices.
Far from Broward being a No Kill shelter, if the animals are not adopted or rescued after 30 days they will be killed. There is a very large urgent list this week, who must exit by Sunday 24th May at 3:30pm or they will be killed. These include adoptable healthy dogs. There are only around 150 dogs at the shelter, with 99 large runs and 24 small dog cages on site. Many dogs are two to a run, so the shelter is not even near full. A handful were adopted this week.
The shelter employs needless, ‘convenience killing’ of the animals in their charge – even with lower intakes and inventory than in recent years.
For example, this mother and kittens were killed for scabies, with no rescue bulletin sent out. Clearly it would have been an easy task to save them with mom on hand to care for them.
Yet one single bottle baby with scabies was made known publicly and went to rescue that same week though he had no mother to care for him.
Also, Broward’s policy is that kittens under 2 pounds must go to foster until they are of age to sterilize and adopt, while at under 1 pound they can be killed in the field – without a second thought. Current common shelter practice does not include anaesthesia for these kittens, who are injected with poison into their abdominal cavity and die slowly, since finding a vein is typically not possible.
Just a few days ago in May 2015, these kittens were handed into the shelter late in the day and it was announced that they could not be kept overnight and if they were not picked up in one hour’s time, they would be killed. Thankfully someone was able to pick them up within that hour.
Like Sawyer, the black lab on the preview of this article, who was killed for a cold, with fosters trying to reach the shelter.
Fifty killed for a cold
Then there’s Dalton, a four month old pup who had merely a broken leg. He was removed from the computer system for six days, but was supposedly still at the shelter, and was later killed even though various members of the community offered to foster and a broken leg is not considered a life–threatening injury.
Or this poor 18 year old kitty, wearing a little bell on his collar, who arrived on 10th April 2015 and was killed on 13th April 2015, in just three days. Protocol says five days is the standard hold time if it appears to be an owned cat (collar, microchip, etc.) but the shelter ‘claimed’ he was suffering. Funny, his condition on the intake photo says NORMAL. No rescue bulletin was posted on this poor boy who was obviously loved by someone for many years.
Why? With no substantive marketing of any kind on individual animals, to find adoptive homes or rescue, Animal Care relies instead on the volunteer and over-burdened rescue community as an ongoing, and ‘just in time’ resource, with a constant implied threat of so-called “euthanasia” of healthy animals. The shelter continually:
- Kills, and threatens to kill (as a bullying marketing technique) healthy, trainable, treatable animals, with or without space at the shelter – while volunteers and the rescue community fear asking questions will lead to even less notice or information on which animals are at risk to be killed.
- Makes ongoing, careless errors on the online/internal chameleon database concerning the animals in their care, leading to the unnecessary deaths of Broward County citizens’ lost pets, including:
- Duplicate photos
- Sex and/or breed errors
- A huge lapse in on-line updating which excluded their shelter animals on the largest and most popular adoption websites used worldwide: Adopt-A-Pet and Petfinder for the month of September, 2014.
Emma killed at intake after being returned
Missy killed for space
Or Ernie, whose shyness got him killed, even with plenty of room at the shelter
Four seniors killed
ERRORS that could cause owners to not find their pets, and lead to unnecessary death!
Mitzi was a MALE cat, not female and was KILLED for URI . Mitzi’s owner never knew he was at the shelter
Cat owners heartbroken after lost pet euthanized at shelter
Duplicates – same dog or cat!
Cocker spaniel listed as Staffy
Tennessee Treeing Brindle Hound?
Dogs killed at Broward that were healthy, trainable or treatable
Trigger had food aggression THEY SAID
Abby killed due to time/space
Returned to shelter and killed at the door
Buddy killed for space
Zeus – never even offered – never had a chance at 11 mos old
Also, the shelter Director’s life partner, Julie Carson, is the Vice-Mayor of a town in Broward County. The Vice-Mayor regularly chimes in about Animal Care on social media, somewhat misrepresenting herself, as merely a local community-minded Vice-Mayor – and all the while most are unaware that she is in an intimate relationship with the shelter Director.
It seems she feels the need to post negatively about advocate groups and claims those in the community pushing for No Kill funding and initiatives are uneducated on the subject, while never disclosing her conflict of interest, and the Commissioners have publicly thanked her for her remarks. Which certainly leaves us to wonder: If anyone in the public realm knew, wouldn’t someone immediately chime in with: “Hey, aren’t you sleeping with the Director? ”
In this case, Commissioner Stacy Ritter speaks up only to thank her, as she touts the amazing job her life-partner is doing,while discrediting a local non-profit that is vying for real changes:
In addition, the shelter Director’s self-proclaimed personal veterinarian has been the chairman of the County Animal Care Advisory Committee for four to five years. How conveniently that works out for current management!
Not to mention that the shelter Director was promoted into her position, which was not advertised to any other candidates, even after government assessments of the shelter’s performance uncovered management as arrogant – and described numerous cases of negligence, gross mismanagement and endangerment of public safety.
A local group has even called her hiring practices into question, which point to the defeatist mentality being cultivated at the shelter, as the new Assistant Director has no faith in No Kill or in adoption programs, and feels this is all the community’s problem:
A recent presentation to the local Commission by staff portrayed the shelter as having made wonderful progress, such as saving 25,000 animals in the last 3 years – while not mentioning that they killed over 27,000. It was quite a ‘dog and pony show’, crafted to lead one to think they need no funds at all – which apparently the Commission chooses to believe even in the midst of strong criticism throughout the community.
And this is only the corruption we KNOW about!
Adding to the confusion, somehow they have approved government spending of $15 million on a new shelter building, which has no real bearing on saving animals – especially when it holds no more than the currently shelter facility. This brought dozens of protestors to its recent groundbreaking ceremony, who want it known that a new building does not save lives – funding of life saving programs and experienced shelter management does!
Photos posted received hundreds of comments on social media, including remarks from the Commissioners themselves defending their weak arguments on how they are working on the problem, yet never a dime to no kill programs is confirmed:
Shortly after the protest, the shelter sent an email out about a star dog from the ceremony who needed adoption or rescue which referred to the WRONG DOG. Not sure how these two dogs could be mistaken for one another visually, let alone that one is a male and the other is a female. It could have been a simple oversight, but with lives at stake in this animal-prison, such mistakes could mean the end of the world for a helpless animal:
This sparked a publicized letter to the local Commissioners, which also appears to have fallen on deaf ears, with no reply or even an acknowledgement known.
Since the resolution to go No Kill in April 2012, under the current ‘questionable’ management, Broward County Animal Care & Adoption has:
- Not developed a No Kill Strategic Plan. The Commission’s directive to develop and implement a No Kill Strategic Plan has been ignored. When asked publicly about the plan, staff states they are working on the some no kill programs already but there is no actual written plan. Until now, no goals or measurable objectives by which to measure their performance are known or made public. As they spew minor improvements, nothing is measured against any set performance goals by which to hold staff accountable;
- killed over 27,000 Animals; and
- approved construction on a $15 million new building, with ZERO funding for No Kill initiatives.
Although, the County did find funding recently for $4 million in new courthouse furniture on which to rest their pompous asses, which the shelter Director’s life partner again made excuses for on social media.
We hope that very soon, the Board of Commissioners will have to take action to resolve these matters. Criticism is coming from every direction, now even abroad. We further hope it to be impossible to dismiss the advocates, volunteers, rescues, the community, the voters, the press and now that news of this issue has spread abroad: the animal loving world.
We look forward to following up on this situation, to see those at fault held accountable for their lack of heart, false promises and even what some would call fiscal irresponsibility on the part of the shelter and the County Commissioners.
To date, the public outcry continues, as does media coverage.
Broward County animal care and adoption violates its own No Kill doctrine
Protest over No Kill policy planned at groundbreaking of Broward shelter
Broward officials break ground on new animal shelter
Shelters only part of the solution to pet overpopulation
Animal officer fired because she couldn’t kill healthy animals
Article with link to bad report from National Animal Control Association
Broward slammed for mismanagement and details of gross negligence
Update: 31st July 2015
The Broward Shelter Director’s life-partner is again speaking while not identifying her role in this saga….stating that we should be ‘thanking’ the commissioners for allowing adoptions since they are not ‘required’ to provide them – and further, almost threatening, that we should support them if we want adoptions to continue!
Funny – the website clearly states their mission: The mission of Animal Care and ADOPTION Division is to provide shelter for lost and surrendered animals and promote successful adoptions that enhance the lives of companion animals and their humans”.