Pets Trust rallies support for ‘yes’ votes on Nov. 6

Pets Trust campaign leaders pictured at Aug. 9 kickoff are (l-r) Rita Schwartz, Jamie Buehrle, Brooke Buck and Michael Rosenberg.

A campaign by the Pets Trust Initiative group to reduce killing animals in Miami- Dade County kicked off its campaign at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables on Aug. 9. The initiative is to gain support from voters in a non-binding referendum on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

The plan would create two “Super Clinics” in north and south Miami-Dade County, offering free or affordable spaying and/neutering services, as well as low cost veterinary care for qualified pet owners. Registered voters will have the opportunity to approve building facilities to help end euthanizing an estimated 20,000 animals annually at the county’s Animal Services Shelter, according to Michael Rosenberg, Pets’ Trust president, who also heads the Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations. “Taxpayers are currently paying about $300 per year for every animal that comes through the county shelter,” explained Rosenberg, who initiated the idea along with animal advocates Rita Schwartz and Lindsay Gordon. “We could spay or neuter for an average $65 per year at these clinics.”

Approved unanimously as a non-binding referendum by Miami-Dade County Commissioners on July 17, a “yes” vote would allow a general millage hike of around 0.10 mills (10 cents per $1,000) effective in fiscal 2013 to build facilities and initiate special programs.

The clinics would spay or neuter up to 50,000 animals yearly and offer low-cost veterinary services as well as provide alternatives to encourage pet retention. Ancillary programs would initiate reduction of feral and free-roaming cats, and subsidize what Rosenberg terms a “severely under-funded” South Florida SPCA that assists large animals that are abandoned or mistreated. The plan would include educational programs to encourage adoptions and responsible pet ownership.

“There are obviously too many loose animals throughout the county, which is why we have been killing so many for decades,” Rosenberg explained to a gathering designed to generate pro-Pets Trust promotional support.

The Pets Trust plan has been modeled after the existing Children’s Trust that supports a variety of programs aiding children, largely through support of non-profit social agencies.

Building tax-supported clinics would expand neutering and spaying services at the existing county currently limited to 15,000 per year, Rosenberg said.

Development of clinics to reduce killing animals was advanced after a June trip by a Pets Trust group to Jacksonville where a similar program aids pet owners and is aimed at reducing the population of strays in Duval County.

“For an average cost of 5 cents a day, we can help fix this problem,” Rosenberg concluded. “I believe our community will lend a hand to animals that have no voice but ours.”

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