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November 17, 2009

The Humane Society/Pet Rescue Merger, explained



There remains a good deal of confusion, anger and misinformation about the Pet Rescue/Humane Society merger. So I recently asked Emily Marquez Dulin to address specifics that I’ve seen in various emails. I forwarded passages to her exactly as they came to me, and she responded in red.


I will tell you that some of the questions came in a Letter to the Editor and passed on to me. The person who sent it may or may not exist, and claimed not to have a phone number. She used an address that I couldn’t find in any of the Herald’s many public-records databases. Her comments are nasty and accusatory – and based in ignorance.


Especially odious is the assertion that Humane Society donors get their dogs from puppy mills. I know many of the people to whom she refers, and every one of them got their dogs from the Humane Society, Adopt-a-Pet, Animal Services, or off the street. Some have indeed purchased purebreds, and reasonable people can disagree on whether breeders of any kind should be permitted to sell dogs, but choosing a purebred hardly marks one as unfeeling to the plight of unwanted animals.


So, to whoever you really are: If you’re going to aim low blows, at least have the decency to do it as your real self. There’s nothing more cowardly than hiding behind anonymity to take shots at people.


I’m hoping that this will lay to rest a controversy that  has wasted a lot of time and psychic energy and doesn’t do anything positive for the critters. (OK- call me a dreamer, but that’s what I hope).


1. “For 27 years Pet Rescue has not only accepted thousands of animals in need into the sanctuary to receive shelter, food and vet care, hundreds of animals a year have been found tied to the gate and tossed over the fence of Pet Rescue. Every one of these animals received a second chance. What will happen to these animals... now?’’


1. According to the Board of Directors of Pet Rescue, the organization never described itself as a sanctuary. The mission of Pet Rescue, which is almost identical to that of the Humane Society of Greater Miami, is/was to save the lives of homeless and abandoned pets, and to finding these animals loving homes since 1982. Pet Rescue, Inc. is/was a no-kill animal shelter, providing care to unwanted cats and dogs, attending to their needs until a suitable home is found, offering a second chance at life.


2. Over the last seven years, when the Humane Society of Greater Miami Adopt-A-Pet embraced a no-kill philosophy, hundreds of animals have been tossed over the fence, tied to a bench or left at our front door, too. They all have been given a second chance with medical treatment, food and shelter, and the undivided attention of the staff.


3. Animals that are tied to the Pet Rescue gate or are thrown over the fence will be transported to the Soffer and Fine Adoption Center for care, and will be placed for adoption. At present, staff members are at the location sorting and cleaning so they will be able to transport animals with the frequency required.


2. “What will be the hope of these future Pet Rescue animals?’’


1.    All Pet Rescue animals (65 cats and 9 dogs) that were at Pet Rescue now live at the Soffer and Fine Adoption Center where their chances of adoption will increase dramatically due to the amount of people who visit the shelter on any given day.


2.    At present, all cats and dogs are in quarantine where they are being monitored. They have all had their vaccines updated and will be microchipped in the next few days. The dogs are in excellent condition yet the cats came with one or more of the following ailments: ringworm, coccidia, upper respiratory infections, or urinary-tract infections. They are all being treated.


3.    It is important to recognize that Pet Rescue was no longer taking in dogs, as the organization’s financial situation did not permit it.


3. “It will be a tragedy if [Pet Rescue’s] land is used for anything else but a refuge for homeless animals. Please, we hope that the new Humane Society/Pet Rescue Miami organization will not abandon this haven for animals or change its use, but continue to use this 4 acres of land to rescue and house homeless animals regardless of their age or special needs, as Pet Rescue has done for 27 years.’’


1.                At present, the Humane Society of Greater Miami has not decided what it will do with the land. The priority has been to service the needs of the animals and relocate them to the Soffer and Fine Adoption Center, where they are under the care of a veterinarian and a team of veterinary technicians.

2.                Surely the issue of the land will be discussed at upcoming Board meetings. The decision will be based on what the organization will be able to sustain in the long run.


4. “The Humane Society solely is for the care and well being of animals, why relocate them to your shelter when they already have 4 acres of land to live on? There are so many people in Miami-Dade County who are against this. There is no reason why they can't stay where they are. I am sure the Humane Society can still reap profits from the land by building a clinic, but having a sanctuary is what is needed most.’’


1.      The animals were moved so that they could be quarantined, evaluated and treated, and later placed for adoption. This has proven to be the right thing to do as all the cats were exposed to a multitude of diseases that could hinder their quality of life.


5/6. “Will animals be euthanized because of lack of space?’’

 "It's also not fair for these animals to live in a cage for majority of their life."


1. The Humane Society of Greater Miami Adopt-A-Pet is an adoption-guarantee or limited-admit shelter (or “no-kill” shelter). This means that no animal is euthanized for space and that once he/she is admitted into the shelter, he/she is admitted into a safe-haven, free from the threat of euthanasia. 98% of the animals enjoy a cageless lifestyle.


7. "I feel we deserve a response and furthermore I would really like it if the Humane Society could really think about what animals need most and hopefully we can come to an agreement that what they need most is a sanctuary, not another shelter where they are caged and "hoped" to find a home. Animals have a right to live. They should not have to die just because of the poor decisions people have made.’’


1.                Again, Pet Rescue was never founded as a sanctuary; it was a no-kill shelter, a safe-haven for animals pending adoption. Three-legged dogs, one-eyed cats, scarred puppies, seniors, and black cats are all considered adoptable at the Humane Society of Greater Miami. 


2.                Animals are not caged at the Humane Society of Greater Miami, they free roam in rooms where they are kept safe from the harshness of the environment, they are fed and walked at least twice a day, and get fresh linens (bedding) and toys every day.


3.                Animals have a right to live a healthy life, and the Humane Society of Greater Miami takes great pride in ensuring that the animals in its care receive the best preventive medicine and if need be, be treated for any disease


8. “Did Lisa DiPriest or anyone else in the Pet Rescue administration make the financial problems widely know? Did Robbie Coy with Sabbath Memorial Rescue offer to take PR over and bring $100,000 in new money?’’


1.                We’re not privy to any information they sent out or received from outside sources regarding their financial situation. We had been helping Pet Rescue for many years and were aware that the organization was declining steadily.


9. “What they did at Pet Rescue was a travesty. What merger? There was no merger. They took the land, which they will sell off, and a couple of animals to their shelter. Usually a merger means both sides get something out of the deal.’’


1.                This was absolutely a merger, with the Humane Society of Greater Miami assuming responsibility for all the animals and securing the jobs of all [Pet Rescue] employees.

2.                This is a legal merger with both Boards of Directors signing the contract. The contract and articles of merger have been registered with the State of Florida and are public record.


10. “Rescue groups from around the state worked hard to place manyanimals that the Humane Society ordered off the property by the merger date of Nov. 1st.’’


1.      There was NEVER an order to take the animals off the property by any date. November 1 was simply the date the merger came into effect. In fact, the Humane Society of Greater Miami asked that animals not be moved from the property so that staff could ensure the microchipping of all the animals, which has proven to be the best way to ensure the return of an animal to its owner or to its shelter. Dogs and cats were not being microchipped by Pet Rescue.


11. “Ask Ms. Marquez what happened with Adopt-A-Pet merger. Same thing - they took the land and sold it and sent all the animals to other sanctuaries around the country. Sure, no animals were euthanized by them; they just shipped them to other places.’’


1.    Although Ms. Marquez was NOT an employee of the Humane Society of Greater Miami at the time of the Adopt-A-Pet merger, it is well known that animals at that property were evaluated and treated. Most of them were incorporated into the shelter’s population while others were sent (and their care paid for) to sanctuaries across the U.S. None of these sanctuaries euthanized any of the animals.


2.    The Humane Society of Greater Miami still owns the [Adopt-a-Pet] property. As part of that merger, the Humane Society took in over 100 animals not including those sent to sanctuary. In addition, the Humane Society of Greater Miami also inherited the liabilities – fines - that came with this property, a huge expense for any organization.


12. “What does the Humane Society of Greater Miami actually do? They host sci sci (sic) cocktail parties where half the donors don't know what a rescue dog is. All of their dogs came from breeders or puppy mills.’’



1.                The Humane Society of Greater Miami is caring for more than 350 animals on a daily basis, finds homes for more than 1,200 animals a year, provides medical care for animals in its shelter, sterilizes 12,000 animals a year (not including those in the shelter) of which more than 3,000 are free for those who cannot afford it, educates more than 8,000 children and adults on responsible pet ownership, and provides pet therapy to those in need.

2.                The Humane Society of Greater Miami is the beneficiary of many caring supporters who either host events to raise funds or participate in many fundraisers organized by the Humane Society of Greater Miami to raise such funds. The monies raised directly benefit the care of the animals in the shelter.

3.                As determined by the last audit of the Humane Society of Greater Miami, 82% of all funds raised directly benefit the animals at the Humane Society of Greater Miami.

4.                 It is irrelevant where the dogs and/or cats of our donors come from. They are committed to our mission and cause. It is only through the donors’ care and concern for homeless animals that we can sustain what we do.


12. “All dollars raised go to pay the high level salaries of Ms. Marquez and Ms. [Laurie] Hoffman. Last year when the [air conditioning] crisis hit and they begged the community for assistance - what happened to all the money raised? Who got bonuses? Ask Ms. Hoffman and Ms. Marquez why the front counter staff received no raises and no added help.


1.                All funds raised for the AC crisis where used for only that, and we continue to use the funds for the repair and maintenance of the AC units that service our cats and dogs. This is a restricted fund and cannot be touched for anything else.

2.                Neither Ms. Marquez nor Ms. Hoffman received bonuses last year nor did any member of the senior staff.

3.                The only bonuses presented were the Holiday gifts to all staff, which are the same for everyone, depending on years serving the organization. They vary from $25 to $100.


13. “They run it like a business with no care for the animals in their charge. It should be renamed the Saks Fifth Avenue Humane Society.’’


1.                The brand Saks Fifth Avenue stands for quality, customer service and excellence, so this is a fair comparison to the Humane Society of Greater Miami. The organization takes great pride in offering the highest standards of medical care to its residents and ensuring that they are placed with great families.

2.                It costs close to $400 to care for each animal in the shelter on a monthly basis yet an average adoption fee is $100. Only through fundraising can the Humane Society of Greater Miami ensure that animals are healthy before they are placed. It is thanks to our donors that we are able to make-up the difference.


14. “Their top donors should look more closely at their finances and their mission statement. No one can quite figure out what they do or how they promote the pets in their care for adoption. The upper management and board of directors should be ashamed of themselves.’’



1.                The Board of Directors of the Humane Society carefully reviews the financials on a monthly basis. The organization is audited every year and financials are public documents.

2.                The mission of the Humane Society of Greater Miami is to place every dog and cat in our care into a loving home and to promote responsible pet ownership and spay/neuter programs.

3.                The Humane Society of Greater Miami adopts more than 120 dogs and cats into loving homes on a monthly basis, and takes in the same amount each month.

4.                Adoptable animals are promoted via the Internet, on television, at community outreaches and special events. Shelter statistics are available on the website, under Maddie’s Fund.

5.                The Humane Society of Greater Miami is the lead agency in Miami-Dade County for Maddie’s Fund Starter Grants. Pet Rescue was a participant in this project too. Guided by its mission to revolutionize the status and wellbeing of companion animals, Maddie's Fund® has devoted its resources to help build a no-kill nation. Towards that end, Maddie's Fund supports local coalitions that combine the talents and resources of adoption guarantee organizations, animal control agencies, and traditional shelters to end the killing of healthy and treatable shelter dogs and cats in their communities within 10 years.


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