Broward County continues to fail pets over and over again

Broward County continues to fail pets over and over again

As an elected official and as a rescuer of strays and neglected and abused pets for the last 27 years, I know not every pet can be saved. Some are better off being humanely euthanized rather than left to fend for themselves and suffer on the streets.

That said, two months ago, when I met with Broward County Animal Care (BCAC) Director Emily Wood, I had myriad reasons to be unhappy with her policies, but I went into the meeting with the intention of giving her the benefit of the doubt . I left the meeting with empty promises and the realization that the implementation of successful programs would not be forthcoming. Her assertions of her were completely out of touch with the pulse of Broward County.

On several occasions in the past year, Hallandale Beach cops called me with concerns that Broward County Animal Care would not take in strays, found pets with no microchips, or on one occasion, a severely injured dog. Cops serve and protect us all, but they are not animal care officers. They do not have the resources, the time or the training to take on shelter responsibilities. We would not ask an animal care officer to respond to an armed robbery call, so why would we expect law enforcement to do the job of animal care officers and staff?

It used to be that the collective tax dollars funded the shelter served Broward County residents and our pets. Wood has made unilateral decisions that make this no longer the case. Vital pet community services for vetting and care have been cut or ignored.

County commissioners know the hardships many Broward residents are having with housing insecurity. I volunteer at a local shelter in Broward County; there are more owner surrenders now than ever before because so many people are unable to pay their rent. It is not true that owner surrenders are down, as Wood says. They are only down on paper because of her policy of turning pets away. Wood’s hubris is hurtful to Broward County residents and their pets. Her deceptive method of keeping intake numbers low, which in turn misrepresents her euthanasia numbers, is an unacceptable practice.

I have received multiple complaints from Broward residents about being turned away by shelter employees who must follow Wood’s orders. A cop rescues a drowning dog from a canal and the response from BCAC is that the officer should have let the dog drown if her department does not have the facilities to hold the animal on premises. This response is reprehensible and unethical. Further, as the wife of a law enforcement officer, I was highly offended by a comment Wood made stating people fear men and women in uniform. The majority of Broward County residents are not anti-law enforcement, and any administrator earning over $150,000 in taxpayer dollars a year espousing this kind of narrative should not be serving our community. Wood points to a Broward County ordinance in which the word “may” gives her an out to service calls from police departments. This is unethical and self-serving.

Our shelter should be offering more community outreach services and should be seen as a place of refuge for our pets in need. In these tough times, we must give residents having to vacate their rental homes a refuge to surrender their pets. Volunteers and rescue organizations should be embraced, not run out of the shelter. The shelter administrator should be partnering with animal welfare-minded elected officials and residents in networking shelter pets to find new homes for those surrendered from our respective cities. Shelter policies should be made with input from stakeholders, elected officials and reasonable-minded rescuers. Alienating volunteers, rescues and first responders is antithetical to animal welfare values ​​and progress.

It’s pretty telling that even elected officials who disagree on a majority of issues find common ground in displeasure with Wood and her ill-fated shelter policies. BCAC has the potential of being one of the best run shelters in the country. Let’s work together to make that happen.

Anabelle Lima-Taub is a city commissioner in Hallandale Beach.

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