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| Animals |

Five Reasons Approval of New $15.2 Million Animal Shelter Is Great News

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On Tuesday, Broward commissioners voted to build a 40,000-square-foot animal care shelter in Dania Beach. The shelter project will be undertaken by Stiles Corp. and will cost around $15.2 million, according to the Sun Sentinel . It will also replace the old World War II military barracks that's currently being used as a shelter with a modernized facility that'll include pet interaction rooms and state-of-the-art ventilation systems. As it stands, the current shelter is open-air without a complete air-conditioning system.

The shelter isn't necessarily going to take in more animals. The current shelter houses 400 dogs and cats. But the new shelter is more about comfort and offering the kinds of facilities that the old barracks just don't have. It's a vast improvement from what officials have to work with now.

Even more important is the fact that commissioners unanimously voted for the shelter to be built. Broward County, while generally having a great track record with animals and pets in general, has had an ugly side in its animal-caring history.

So, this is great news. Here are five reasons why:

1. More Adoptions, Less Dying
In 2011, the county took in 17,002 pets and euthanized 9,672 of them — roughly 27 a day. Animals that were taken in but never adopted were eventually injected with a euthanizing agent. The vast number of animals put down eventually forced commissioners to enact a "no kill" measure for animal shellers around the county. Euthanizing animals has always been a touchy subject with Broward residents. In 2013,  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.

2. Elimination of Puppy Mills
Last year, the county began slowly enacting bans on selling commercial pets in an attempt to curb overbreeding and to encourage people to adopt their pets from animal shelters. Overall, the ban is to keep people from inadvertently buying pets that come from puppy mills or other inhumane places. This would then drive puppy mills, which are known to breed sickly animals in poor conditions, into the ground while promoting people getting their pets from animal shelters and other places where the animals are treated humanely.

3. Fewer Animals Being Sent to Horribly Run Shelters
Then there are the poorly run shelters, such as the Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Division, which, in 2014, was accused of misconduct and gross management 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" lying around the shelter unattended and unsecured.

The shelter also allegedly often released dogs to owners without vaccinating them against rabies, prompting the inspector general to deem the shelter a public health risk. 

4. Curbing Animal Abuse
Then there are the myriad stories about cats and dogs being held in deplorable conditions by Broward residents.

In 2013, New Times reported on a Broward man who kept 46 pit bulls living in horrible conditions in his West Park home. According to our report, the man kept the dogs in a cage without ever letting them out and fed them only raw chicken and meat. Neighbors complained of the smells emanating from the man's home and of the state of the dogs in general. 

The report eventually led to 46 of the 49 pit bulls being freed.

5. Pets Are Amazing!

Seriously. Come on. Look at that face. This is a great thing.

Follow Chris Joseph on Twitter.

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