Back in March, Broward County announced the construction of a $15.2 million, 40,000-square-foot animal care shelter that is expected to replace the old World War II military barracks that's currently being used as a shelter. The new shelter will offer modern amenities and generally make life a little more bearable for the animals it takes in. The county will be breaking ground for the new shelter, which is to be built at 2308 SW 42nd St. in unincorporated Broward County, adjacent to Dania Beach and west of I-95, on Friday morning.
Animal advocates from Pets Broward and other concerned citizens will be at the groundbreaking ceremony Friday morning to hold a peaceful protest over what they say has been poor management by county officials and commissioners' failure to stick to their own No Kill resolution, which Broward passed in 2012.
No Kill means that no healthy and adoptable animal would be euthanized in the county. Technically, the No Kill resolution was nonbinding. serving more as something the county would aspire to. But numbers show that the spirit of the resolution is being violated in a major way, if not completely ignored. According to the data, 27,232 animals have been put down at Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Center since the resolution was agreed upon by county commissioners.
"A new facility is awesome, because the animals need it," Pets Broward's Meredith Bruder tells New Times. "But we have concerns with management and their lack of accountability."
Bruder points out that the new shelter isn't necessarily going to take in more animals, even though it's planned to be twice the size of the current one.
"They’re building a shelter twice the size but with less capacity," she says.
The concern is that there still won't be room for new animals coming in, which will only increase the number of healthy animals that will potentially be euthanized in Broward County.
Moreover, Broward has had a poor track record with the way it has treated animals in shelters.
In 2011, the county took in 17,002 pets and euthanized 9,672 of them — which comes to roughly 27 a day. Animals that were taken in but never adopted were eventually put to death. It was this vast number of animals that were put down that eventually led the commissioners to enact the No Kill resolution. But as Bruder and many others have pointed out, it's been business as usual at Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Center.
Just a year after the resolution, New Times published a story about a woman leaving an abandoned kitten with Animal Control, only to find out it was put down for no reason. Animal Control allegedly tried to cover up unnecessarily euthanizing the kitten.
Then in 2014, Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Center was accused of misconduct and gross mismanagement by the Broward Office of Inspector General after it was found that the shelter mishandled controlling a drug for euthanizing animals. The drug, known by its street name "Special K," is a known date-rape drug. Inspectors found vials of "Special K" laying around the shelter unattended and unsecured. That report also revealed that the shelter often released dogs to owners without vaccinating them against rabies, prompting the inspector general to deem the shelter a public health risk.
Bruder says the shelter's mismanagement falls on animal care division chief Susan Pierce, who Bruder calls unqualified for the position. Pierce has not been held accountable for the lack of euthanasia rate reductions, Bruder says.
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The protest is looking to call out Pierce and county officials for their lack of accountability and their supposed poor efforts to secure funds to enact the No Kill resolution.
"It’s a good opportunity to let them know we’re here," Bruder says, "that we’re watching."
The protest is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday just as the groundbreaking ceremony commences. The protesters will gather at 2400 SW 42nd St. in Fort Lauderdale.
"If any private business was run the way the county runs its animal shelter program," Bruder says, "it would close down in a week."