Wednesday, August 1, 2012

MDRR Founders put shelter rescue back on track

For those who don't quite grasp what the shelter dogs and cats have lost with the forced demise of the Miami Dade Rescue Railroad by No Kill Nation';s director Debi Day.

MDRR served the shelter animals in MDAS faithfully for eleven plus years.  Here's a story from the early years.  I'll note the lack of hostility that is so prevalent within the rescue community which has reached a state of shamefulness in having advocacy groups attacking volunteers whose only mission is to share some love and save a few lives.

Posted on Thu, Dec. 30, 2004

Many of you are aware that I have long had an interest in the plight of homeless pets from the Miami Dade shelter. Both Sydney and Agnes were rescued from Miami Dade along with the basset Gilmour who later was placed in his forever home.

In early December of last year relations with local rescue groups and the shelter management had reached a all time low point with a high likelihood that rescue might be prevented from rescuing from the shelter at all. In the hopes of preventing such a step which would have resulted in the last remaining safety net for hundreds of homeless pets being removed I formed a group that would become known as the Miami Dade Rescue Railroad.

From the onset my commitment was to put together the best of local rescuers who were willing to withstand the heartbreak and anguish that rescuing from a shelter like Miami Dade.

December 30, 2004

Against all odds the group recently celebrated it's first anniversary. With over 200 members the group now meets every weekend at the shelter to pull out often times the sickest and unadoptables offering them one last freedom ride on the Miami Dade Rescue Railroad.

With the efforts of dozen of truly compassionate rescuers over 500 of Miami Dade's homeless dogs and cats destined to die in Miami Dade were instead moved into the loving care of various no kill shelters throughout the state.

One of my earliest memories in forming MDRR was in a conversation I had with one of the groups original member's Lorraine who had offered to enter what was at the time a war zone at the shelter in the hopes of taking pictures of dogs scheduled to die. Lorraine called me afterwards all excited that she had succeeded in getting the shelter management to alow her to take pictures of a few dozen dogs. When I asked her how she was able to get them to change the rule which prevented pictures from being taken she replied "I started crying..."

As the past several months have shown along with the many tears of joy over those who have been saved there has also been countless tears shed over those poor souls who despite all good intentions weren't able to be saved. To each person who has given a piece of their own heart in the hopes of saving one dog or cat at a time the rewards of those who are saved will be memories that will remain forever. You have given the gift of life to a helpless and innocent creature that society has all but forgotten.

MDRR Founder's message

Story Posted December 30, 2004

Stray dogs, cats on track to new homes

The Miami-Dade Rescue Railroad took a dozen dogs and cats from the county's animal shelter on a road trip to new adoptive homes and no-kill facilities.

Rosa Martinez and her two daughters arrived at the Miami-Dade County Animal Shelter with heavy hearts. Draped sleepily in their arms were four curly, cocker spaniel-mix puppies in need of new homes.

Onsite was the Miami-Dade Rescue Railroad, a nonprofit organization that finds refuge for homeless animals in no-kill shelters and adoptive homes around the state.

Volunteers agreed to take the puppies, though they usually reserve their services for the shelter's neediest animals.

''We feel better that they're going to take them,'' Martinez said, as she waited for the puppies to be loaded into a rental van bound for Naples, Fort Myers and Bradenton.

In all, about 20 dogs and cats boarded the rescue railroad and were granted a reprieve of sorts.

Most came directly from the county shelter's B Ward, the end of the road for scores of unwanted dogs and cats each week -- mangy old mutts, sick puppies, strays, invalids unlikely to be adopted.

A sort of doggy Death Row, animals in the B Ward usually have 24 hours to live before being euthanized by lethal injection. Last year, the county put down an average of more than 50 dogs and cats daily.

It's a sad, but necessary process, say those familiar with the routine, but one that frees up badly needed kennel space at the county's largest animal shelter.

''People need to know that when they adopt a pet they need to be willing to keep the animal for its entire life,'' said Toni Lynn, the organization's president, shaking her head. ``These animals still have a chance.''


The shelter euthanized more than 21,000 animals last year. There's no way to save each one, of course, but Lynn said the railroad has placed more than 500 dogs and cats since the organization's founding in 2003.

''These animals are the very definition of true, unconditional love,'' she said.

The ''railroad,'' so called for the caravans created by members when they drive around the state, picks up animals from the shelter, 7401 NW 74th St. in Medley, almost every other weekend.

But a daily effort is made to keep tabs on new arrivals and animals being moved into the preeuthanasia ward.

Volunteers from the railroad do walk-throughs of the shelter every day, take photos and send e-mail alerts to a nationwide network of animal lovers, rescue facilities and activists who assist in finding homes.

That's promising news for Princess, a scruffy Shih Tzu, who looked more like a dirty mop, and a nameless, trembling, one-eyed Chihuahua, who were among this week's B Ward inmates.

Every effort is made to find permanent homes for them, but when that fails, foster homes and no-kill shelters pick up the slack.

''No-kill shelters take animals for us only as space becomes available, but we're in contact with them all the time and they tell us what they can take,'' said Jana Sheeder, one of the organization's co-founders.

The railroad coordinates with other rescue operations that may cater to certain breeds like basset hounds and boxers by checking the Miami-Dade shelter for surrenders.


Despite taking Martinez's puppies, the railroad generally only rescues from public facilities. Sheeder and other volunteers were glad to help, but wished they could do more. They need help themselves -- especially with those on death's doorstep.

''There are so many dogs in the B Ward that can't wait for the weekend to come. Their time is up,'' she said. ``We really need foster homes to take the animals until they can be placed.''

Of course, the public has a role in helping, especially the pet-owning public.

''We can avoid so many of these problems if people get their pets spayed and neutered,'' Sheeder said.
To learn more on the sad demise of MDRR read my blog "The Death of MDRR"

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