From time to time, a situation transpires at Miami-Dade Animal Services that gets a lot of negative attention in the rescue/humane community. Then something happens that reminds me of the health care "debate'' currently in process - though not much debate can be hear above the screaming. Tempers flare, rumors fly, everyone finds a reason to reinforce and entrench positions that might not be based on all the facts. Things get personal.
So it is this week with the case of a pit bull euthanized at ASD. First I'm going to print in its entirety the initial email addressing it, then I'm going to print in its entirety the response of Dr. Sara Pizano, ASD director, who was personally targeted by the email. I hope this will answer whatever questions remain about the sad event.
Dear Board Members, Members and Friends:
Just shortly, after
meeting with Omar Fernandez (Blue's owner) and Dr. Sara Pizano, Director of
Animal Services, we were informed that the dog had been beheaded, as protocol
for the health department in reference to rabies testing. They did this
although the dog's shots were up to date.
When I questioned her, all she could say was" you signed the paper...". This of course was as a result of being "strong armed" and totally mislead, both legally and protocol wise. Dade~County does not have a one bite rule. This incident was provoked by the postal worker. Dr. Pizano was on camera stating the dog had mauled the postal worker and that it was a Pit Bull. Upon requesting the remains of his beloved Pet, he was informed the remains of his dog Blue, although requested by him yesterday, had been
beheaded and his remains dumped as trash in a landfill. The authorization for the euthanasia of the dog was given by Dr. Sara Pizano. The Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation is in full support of an investigation in reference to the travesty of the legal protocol followed.This is an outrage and it clearly demonstrates the severe lack of compassion and correct protocol not followed that is occurring in this
county.We will avenge Blue's killing...
In Hope and Commitment,
Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation
Dear Members and Friends,
On Saturday, August
8th 2009, the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation will be
holding a PEACEFUL protest in front of the Miami Dade Animal Services Shelter
to state our opposition to the actions recently taken by Miami Dade County,
Animal Services and related officials. Our goal is to PEACEFULLY express our
concerns and voice our opinions as a community of responsible dog owners and
advocates. This protest is being organized in light of the actions taken by
Miami Dade Animal Services in the case of Blue and his owner, Omar Fernandez.
They forcefully pressured Mr. Fernandez to release custody of his pet and
threatened to forcefully take the dog and imprison Mr. Fernandez. An hour
later, without consent and without notifying Mr. Fernandez, they killed Blue.
Mr. Fernandez did not even have a chance to say goodbye to Blue, who he
called his "son." They did not make him aware of his rights, as is required
by the law. This is equivalent to a police officer not reading a citizen
Rights before they are taken into custody. Moreover, after they unjustly euthanized Blue, they denied Mr. Fernandez the request for his deceased body. We want to make the public aware of the unlawful procedures, decisions and tactics that Miami Dade Animal Services has been enforcing. They have intimidated owners, causing them to surrender their pets without properly advising the pet owners of their rights. They have improperly issued citations, without following county protocol and without verbal or
written instructions detailing the rights of the pet owner in question.
More importantly, they have confiscated, exiled and euthanized thousands of innocent family pets whose breeds have been mis-identified. Unfortunately, Mr. Fernandez is not the first person to fall victim to
these practices, but we hope that this protest will shed light on the actions taking place behind the county doors. As a coalition we must stand united and DEMAND that our rights as individuals, tax-payers and pet owners are adhered to. This is just the beginning of the changes we will rally for. Mr. Fernandez will be taking legal action against Miami DadeCounty for their role in the unfair euthanasia of his dog. We will keep you posted on all details as things begin to unveil.
FROM DR. PIZANO:
Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2009 6:29 PM
Subject: RE: Dr. Sara Pizano's illegal killing of a Miami-Dade
resident's beloved pet dog and the county's BSL ordinance
I have interviewed all three Animal Control Officers involved which included one supervisor and one lead worker. I also questioned both City of Miami police officers who were on the scene and witnessed the
course of events.
The dog attacked the postal worker causing severe injuries. The owner was educated regarding his options. One was to surrender the dog to Animal Services, thus giving Animal Services full and immediate custody. He questioned the supervisor and asked what would happen if he did not surrender the dog and was told, accurately, that he would receive a court order requiring him to surrender his dog during the dangerous dog investigation. The form he signed explained that he was giving up his
rights to his dog.
The owner asked if he could speak to his mother privately and called a police officer friend who advised him to sign the dog over. He returned to speak to the police and ACOs and said he wanted to do the right thing and signed the form surrendering his dog to Animal Services. The ACO supervisor, on three different occasions explained that the owner surrender was final and binding and the dog was going to be euthanized. The owner said he understood.
All 5 officers at the scene confirmed that at no time was the owner coerced or threatened but voluntarily
signed the dog over to the department. They also said that the Animal Services staff went above and beyond and when the owner asked for 10 minutes to say good bye to the dog, he was granted the time.
Upon arriving at the shelter because of the severity of the attack and the fact that the owner surrendered the dog, the dog was euthanized. By law, the dog had to be tested for rabies. After the dog was euthanized and the head removed for the health department, the owner came to the shelter with a representative from the group trying to overturn the pit bull ban. The representative had told the owner that she could foster and save the dog from euthanasia. Unfortunately, the owner told the news cameras that he wanted the body but did not speak to the ACO supervisor so we did not find out that information until we met the following day.
This is a very sad case for all involved and unfortunately this group is continuing to spread inaccurate and false information about the chain of events and Animal Services only to showcase their disagreement with the pit bull ban. The dog was euthanized because he was surrendered voluntarily by his owner and due to the severity of the attack, not because of his breed.
Sara Pizano, DVM
Miami-Dade Animal Services