Friday, April 22, 2011

Miami Dade Shelter Report 2001 - 2010

This spreadsheet represents MDAS shelter records FY 01/02 through FY 04/05.  This represents a period of time where MDAS was managed by Miami Dade Police Department.


FY 01/02

FY 02/03

FY 03/04

FY 04/05
















Return to owner





Number animals saved





Number euthanized





Percent euthanized





This spreadsheet represents the data from FY 05/06 through FY 09/10 which represents the time period after Dr Sara Pizano took over managing the Miami Dade Animal Services Unit.


FY 05/06 (*)

FY 06/07

FY 07/08

FY 08/09

FY 09/10



















Return to owner






Number animals saved


         10, 413




Number euthanized






Percent euthanized






Evaluating Key Shelter Performance Factors


The number of dogs and/or cats adopted from MDAS is a critical measurement in life saving performance.  Adoptions during the four years prior to Dr Pizano's tenure averaged around 3,300 per year.  As the numbers show adoptions doubled the first year alone to an astounding number of 6,000 dogs/cats being adopted back into the community.  Adoptions have continued to climb at a rate of 37% in years FY 08 through FY 2010.  Adoptions only saw a slight decline in FY 2007/2008 which represents the beginning of south Florida economic decline.

This is an area where improvement under Dr Pizano's leadership will continue once the new shelter is built.  The fact that she has been successful in improving adoptions despite being burdened with an old, disease pronged shelter is refreshing. 
Performance Grade - A

Rescue Transfers

Rescue transfers were almost non existent while MDAS was under police department control - averaging around 1,150 dogs/cats each year.  Many of these transfers occurred in 2003 - 2005 as a result of rescue groups stepping up to pull animals and as a result of a loosening of restrictions on rescue groups because management was under fire.  

Under the watch of the "old guard" police, policies enforced  included banning volunteers, prohibiting rescue volunteers from taking pictures of dogs/cats listed as urgent, and a data base that was so inaccurate it was useless for all practical purposes.

With the implementation of MDAS "rescue partners" program dogs and cats being transferred to rescue has risen dramatically to over 4,000 during the last fiscal year.  This represents an increase of over 300% from the results under the Miami Dade Police Department control. 

This is also an area where the rescue community can continue to see improvement if they double or triple the number of rescue groups that become team players with MDAS Partner program. 
Performance Grade A Plus

Return To Owners

Returning family pets to their owners is a community effort.  It requires policies to be put in effect that encourage pet identification and offers low cost options that assist pet owners with identifying their pets.  These numbers have remained fairly stagnated with  only a slight bump in the number of pets returned home.  Still the number of pets returned to owners under the old leadership team averaged slightly over 1,050 each year to an average of slightly over 1,400 (or 40%) under the new leadership team.
Performance Grade - B - Minus/C Plus

Number of Animal Saved

In FY 01/02 less then 15% of the dogs/cats entering the shelter survived.  Many died horrible deaths due to diseases contracted during even very short stays at the shelter.  In FY 02/03 the number saved only increased to 19%.  In FY 03/04 the number of animals saved improved to 22% in part due to a 10% decrease in the number of animals entering the shelter.  In FY 04/05 or the last year of management under the police department the number of animals saved dropped to 20% - in other words, MDAS was killing four out of five dogs and cats entering the shelter.

During Dr Pizano's first year the number of animals saved jumped to 30% (FY 05/06).  This represented an increase of 63% (5667 to 9040) in one year alone.  FY 06/07 that number of animals saved increased to 10,413 or another 10% increase from the previous year.  However, this increase was negated by an increase in intake numbers of 13% as intake climbed from 30,000 dogs/cats entering the shelter to over 34,000.

In FY 07/08 MDAS was able to hold it's own on the number of saved animals despite what was the beginning of an economic recession taking hold in south Florida and throughout the country. 

In FY 08/09 the number of animals saved again increased from the previous year by over 30% as it climbed from 10,630 to 13,700.  This number represents a sustained increase of over 250% (5,667) from the previous total under the "old guard" of MDAS mismanagement in 2005. 

MDAS was able to improve the number of animals saved slightly in FY 09/10 as the saved numbers rose to 13,942.  Performance grade on saving animals - A plus.

Shelter Intake

Unfortunately, all of the gains made in adoptions and animals transferred to rescue has been negated by an startling increase in the number of animals entering the shelter (intake) over the last five years.  Intake has climbed from a four year average of 30,000 dogs/cats a year FY 01 through FY 05 to an average of over 34,400 during the last five years.  This represents an increase of 15% on intake alone. 

Intake numbers represent a community problem that must be dealt with in order to reverse this trend.  It is NOT an area where shelter management of an open admission shelter has much control.

Dr Pizano has put forth a number of recommendations that focus on reducing intake by expanding spay/neuter programs, promoting  pro-active pet retention programs and partnering with rescue partners by transfering animals before they enter the shelter.

Performance Grade - community D MINUS - MDAS policy review - B - minus

Number of dogs and cats killed at MDAS

No one disagrees that the 20,000 dogs and cats that are consistently being killed at MDAS remains a serious community problem for which solutions must be found.  Those solutions are NOT going to come from the constant attacks from many groups who aren't even from the Miami Dade/South Florida area. 

The solutions needed for MDAS will only come by continuing to build a foundation of local support that can address the growth in intake numbers, by doubling even tripling the number of rescue partners and a surge in efforts to educate the community on responsible pet ownership while providing pet owners the programs needed for this transition.  The solution also requires building the long overdue new shelter as well.

History of Miami Dade Animal Services
Note: Miami Dade Animal Services (MDAS) became an independent department in October of 2005.

Animal Services was originally a part of the Dade County Public Safety Department, and was later designated as the Animal Care and Control Division under the Public Works Department.

In 2001, the Miami-Dade Police Department took over the operation, and on October 1, 2005, the Animal Services Department (ASD) was created as a stand-alone entity in an effort to provide focused care for the County’s animal population.

By becoming an independent entity, the Animal Services Department is be able to concentrate its resources on its core mission of caring for the animals in its custody. MDAS receives approximately 22 percent of its budget from the County’s General Operating Fund, while the remaining 78 percent is derived through dog license tag sales, shelter fees, enforcement fines, private grants, and donations.

Miami Dade Animal Services Director - Dr Sara Pizano

Sara Pizano, D.V.M., is responsible for the oversight of the Miami-Dade Animal Services Department.

She began her career as a veterinarian intern at the Animal Medical Center in New York City, one of the busiest animal centers in the country. She moved to South Florida in 1998 and has been very involved in the animal care community.

She brings to Miami-Dade more than 11 years of experience in the field of veterinary medicine and animal services delivery, including five years as the director of veterinary services for the Humane Society of Broward County, where she was responsible for managing a $1 million budget and increasing clinic donations by 231 percent.

Dr. Pizano holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University.

Five Year Performance Report Highlights

In 2005, the Miami Dade Animal Services Department (MDAS) became independent, answering directly to the County Manager. Since then, a myriad of changes and improvements have been and continue to be made.

In 2010 the Department was presented with the Outstanding Team Achievement award for a spay/neuter initiative as MDAS was responsible for the sterilization of over 4,000 community cats with minimal impact to the operational budget.

Miami-Dade Animal Services is one of the top ten largest shelters in the country, based on the number of animals abandoned. Between FY 2005-2006 and 2008-2009, the intake of animals increased by:

  • Introduced micro chipping for community pets that includes automatic registration (2008)
  • Created new educational handouts to prepare pet owners for adoption and care of their new pet
  • Lost and Found Procedure Improvements
  • Created lost pet handouts for owners
  • Trained staff to enter tag/chip information into Chameleon (pet and owner information database) to generate reports for shelter animals with identification
  • Created Pet Detectives Volunteer Program to increase reunification rate of lost pets with their owners
  • Updated adoption and spay/neuter contracts to include the picture, microchip, tag and animal ID (2005)
  • Introduced spay/neuter agreement to decrease time shelter pets were exposed to infectious diseases.
Community Outreach

• Advertised on trains, buses, newspapers and magazines
• Developed an ad campaign featuring three (3) uniform messages :   Spay/Neuter o Adopt-a-Pet
• Secured approximately $50,000+ annually in in-kind advertising (ongoing)
• Secured regularly featured spots on Comcast Pets on Demand, Telemundo 51 and GenTV
• Partnered with Petsmart to do mobile adoptions (2009)
• Created a Facebook page

Concentrated outreach efforts have helped to increase adoptions and improve MDAS’s overall visibility and reputation throughout the community, though proper funding has not been allocated in the budget to this area. MDAS has developed advertising campaigns, improved media relations and developed partner websites that all contribute to getting people involved and saving more animals.

Outreach efforts included the following:

Rescue Partnership

In 2006, a formal Rescue Partnership was created with 501c3 Rescue Groups and humane societies. Twice daily, our Rescue Partners receive auto e-mails via the Chameleon shelter software with a list of shelter pets that would most likely not be moved into adoptions.

For the FY 2009-2010, there were sixty (60) Rescue Partners, one of the largest partnerships we know of in the country, who collectively saved a record breaking 4,074 shelter pets. Rescue Partners also provide Medical Foster Care for some dogs during their stray hold period.

Volunteers Partnership

Volunteers were welcomed back to the shelter in 2006. They attend a formal orientation and tour to learn about the operation of Animal Services, then help with the care of shelter pets, adoptions, bathing dogs, assisting in the clinic and with events. Shelter volunteers have donated a total of 39,762 hours between FY 2006-2007 and FY 2009-2010.

As an extension of the volunteer program, the Pet Detective Club was created as well and volunteers research the Internet matching flyers of lost and found pets at the shelter or found by Good Samaritans. The Puppy Foster Care program was created in October 2008, and since then hundreds of puppies have been saved that would have otherwise been killed. Continued program for dog spays and neuters for the public for $25 

Challenges for tomorrow - reducing intake 

It will take a community effort to overcome these challenges.  A community working in partnership with Dr Pizano and her staff.    

Spay/Neuter Programs

Targeted spay/neuter programs have proven to be the only way to effectively decrease shelter intake. Examples of targeted programs include those that focus on free roaming cats, areas with high shelter intake and for low income pet owners. The Animal Services Department has developed many private sector collaborations to increase the number of donor subsidized spay/neuter opportunities in our community and are open to foster new collaborations and seek grant funding for sterilization programs.

MDAS is seeking the help of the Florida Legislature to expand use of the $5 surcharge on animal code enforcement violations to include Spay/Neuter Programs (state law currently requires proceeds from the surcharge to be used solely to pay for costs of training for animal control officers). Spay/Neuter programs help to minimize population growth and MDAS has created numerous donor-subsidized initiatives that include:

• Maddie’s Funding Received $22,000 in funding in FY 2008-2009
• Florida Animal Friends Grant Coalition plus donations to Animal Services Trust Fund helped provide 1,401 free cat spay/neuters for the public on the mobile surgical unit (MAC)
• ASPCA Pet Fair Grant Received. $24,000 in FY 2010-2011.

FY 2009-2010 to provide cat spay/neuter services for a $15 co-pay on the MAC
• Volunteer Vet Surgery Days FY09/10 funding used to continue cat sterilizations for a $15 co-pay on the MAC
• Continued efforts to apply for spay/neuter grants with PetSmart Charities
• Partnered with the Clydey Foundation 908 cats sterilized between 5 events. Hosted the spay/neuter mobile unit at Animal Services. 

• Dog Spay/Neuter Program sponsored by the Animal Services Trust Fund Offered dog spays and neuters for the public for $30 (over 700 surgeries performed) o
• Created partnership with the Humane Society of Greater Miami (HSGM).  HSGM now operates the Spay/Neuter clinic and utilizes MDAS's Mobile Animal Clinic (MAC) units.

To read the complete Miami Dade Animal Services Five Year Report:

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