In 2011, Broward County took in 17,002 pets and euthanized 9,672 of them — roughly 27 a day. This high kill rate eventually led county commissioners to enact a resolution in April 2012 declaring that it would work to convert its animal shelters to no-kill facilities.
But in the following years, as critics from a group called Pets Broward pointed out, killings at the shelter only increased. And while the county is building a new, $15.2 million, 40,000-square-foot shelter that is expected to be completed in 2016, it will accommodate only roughly the same number of animals as the current shelter. The leaders of Pets Broward says the county shelter needs new management.
On Saturday, they protested with signs outside the county shelter.
"The idea is to have a no-kill community and a no-kill community is achieved only by running programs that help decrease the overpopulation issue, which is education outreach; high-volume, low-cost available spay and neuter," Pets Broward's Meredith Bruder says. "Because that's what this county needs, and we don't have it.
"If any private business was run the way the county runs its animal shelter program," Bruder says, "it would close down in a week."
In addition to the high euthanasia rate, 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.
Most recently, No Kill Nation, a national group based in Lighthouse Point that organized today's Just One Day event to help get the message out about adopting pets, says Broward has dragged its feet in cooperating with the event. While Miami-Dade has seen tremendous success with Just One Day, Broward has seen abysmal number of pets adopted every year. Organizers blame Broward Animal Care and Adoption's leadership.
New Times has been told that Animal Care and Adoption Section Director Susan G. Pierce is currently on "extended leave."
When asked about the criticism lobbed their way, Thomas Adair, operations director and assistant director at Broward County Animal Care and Adoption, insists that they are doing everything they can with the resources they have to save lives. Adair says he's aware of the protests as well.
"We were in the middle of an adoption process when the protesters showed up," he says.
"We are doing everything within our resources to get homes for these animals and doing everything we can to save their lives. We're in the business of saving lives with every resource given us."
Some groups argue that euthanizing animals is a necessary evil because there are never enough people to adopt all the needy animals and shelters will fill up, leaving animals to suffer and die on the streets.
But Bruder counters that argument, saying that no-kill is achieved not by building more shelters but by running programs — commonly called TNR, for trap, neuter, release — that deal with the issues that create overpopulation. And she says activists are not confident in Adair's leadership either.
"We believe a new director is key," she says. "And that the new director should be able to build their team as they see fit. So ultimately Mr. Adair's position should become the decision of a qualified, experienced director. To this point, it seems he has accomplished little, though, and the key component of funding the no-kill programs — selling pet tags — is at an all-time low."
Pets Broward says they'll be holding another protest at the Broward Government Center on June 23.