Giving a pet? Check county’s Animal Services Shelter first

By Richard Yager….
Thinking about a pet as a holiday gift? “Then think about Miami-Dade’s oversupplied Animal Services Shelter,” said Jack Galindo, customer service supervisor for the always-crowded county facility at 7401 NW 74 St. in Medley.

Galindo urged those seeking gift pets to “join us, Sunday, Dec. 5, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., for a holiday adoption extravaganza, the first of series of special adoption days.”

“The holiday season can bring joy to your home by adopting a shelter pet.” said Galindo, noting that pedigreed animals of all sizes and shapes arrive daily from a variety of sources.

“People are apt to think of the county shelter as a home for the sick, strays and homeless cats and dogs,” he told a Kendall audience during the Nov. 17 Citizens Advisory Committee meeting at the Hammocks Police Station.

“We‘re experiencing an oversupply of new pets, many of them coming from foreclosed homes whose owners can no longer afford their care,” Galindo explained. “These are often pampered animals with healthy backgrounds because owners have kept them that way.

“In just the past week, we’ve had pedigreed dogs arrive as well as those whose owners simply are unable to keep up with health requirements as well as daily feeding and shelter. Hard times are proving hard on some beautiful, wellcared pets in our area,” Galido said.

He related that earlier this year, a beautiful German shepherd came to the shelter and within a couple of days he was adopted by the police. Today, he’s helping catch criminals.

“Many owners are embarrassed by economic circumstances that prevent them from keeping a pet — and that accounts for an increasing number of strays in our area, too.”

Nevertheless, Miami-Dade Animal Services has made a significant dent in the numbers of animals saved from euthanasia by growing adoptions, he added.

Of 35,000-plus animals taken in during 2010, 15,000 adoptions have been recorded — a major gain over past years, he said.

To assist owners, the Animal Services unit has created first-come, first-served service to spay or neuter dogs every Tuesday starting at 8 a.m. for a co-pay of $30, a fee that can cost $100 or more from private veterinarians or clinics.

The same service is offered to owners of cats (ferals and strays included), beginning at 7:30 a.m. each Thursday.

“In recent months, we’ve had people waiting in line when we open on those days, attributable to the need for services at reduced cost,” he said.

To help find homes for its continuing oversupply, the Animal Services unit partners with 67 agencies throughout Florida and the U.S. to move out unwanted pets to future homes, rather than become candidates for destruction.

Galindo also asked for help with the unit’s “Wish List” for donated items, including unused toys, towels, shoe boxes (for cats), gift cards from supermarkets and pet supply stores, leashes and collars (all sizes), bandanas, Frontline-Plus for all-sized dogs, fleece mini-blankets and dog sweaters, plastic pet carriers and puppy housebreaking pads.

Residents also can volunteer services at the shelter.

For information on how to help (or adopt a pet), call 3-1-1 or visit the shelter website at .

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