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June 25, 2010

Maya Goes Home

Here's the headline on a story I wrote in today's paper:

Missing dog found tattered but safe in foreclosed Miami-Dade home

click below to read the whole thing. Then read ASD's own explanation of the event below. What needs to happen is a change in the ordinance, so that ASD has easier legal access in such situations.


On June 12, 2010, a stray dog at large service request was received by Animal Services. As a result of the misclassification as a stray dog,  the complaint was not addressed until June 14, 2010. Certain call types are handled with greater priority than stray dog at large calls, specifically injured animals, animal bites, animal cruelty and police requests for assistance. On June 14, 2010, the complaint was responded to in order of priority. The responding officer knocked on the front door of the residence at 20105 Highland Lakes Boulevard and called out for a response. At that time a brown, medium size  Chow chow mix breed dog walked into an area of the residence that is visible from the front window. The dog was bright and responsive and was exhibiting no signs of distress. The officer attempted to make contact with neighboring residents to obtain further information, however no one was home at that time. The officer did speak with a mail carrier who had no knowledge of the dog being there, but did advise that the house had been in foreclosure for some time. The officer posted a notice of possible abandonment on the front door of the residence. The property tax information on the location came back to a bank located in New York. This is the party named in the possible abandonment warning that was posted. The dog inside the residence as well as the posting were photographed at that time.

 Based on the physical appearance of the dog at the time Animal Services responded, the department did not have sufficient cause to enter the residence to remove the dog.  The Fourth Amendment provides protection from unlawful search and seizure; Animal Services is not exempt from this provision. In the event the animal had appeared to be in distress, the department would have had the authority to obtain police assistance to force entry.

On June 17,2010, an animal cruelty follow up was created. The officer that responded to the follow up observed that the possible abandonment warning was still posted on the front door. The officer knocked on the door repeatedly and called out in an effort to elicit a response from the dog. There was no dog seen or heard in the residence at that time. Due to the lack of any evidence supporting that the dog was still inside the residence, the case was closed. On June 23, 2010, a representative from the property management company responded to the location to conduct a routine inspection. Upon entering the residence he observed a dog in the far left corner of the living room. This area of the home is not visible from the front entranceway of the home that the investigator  conducting the follow up inspection had access to. The property management representative advised that there was a bowl, as well as dog treats scattered on the floor. The representative further stated that there was a large quantity of urine and feces throughout the residence. The representative advised that  he is the sole inspector responsible for the property, and had last been there on June 8, 2010. At that time there was no dog inside the residence. The representative advised that the door  locks had been changed, and that he had no idea who may have gained access and confined the dog inside the residence. The representative allowed the dog to exit the residence and provided her with water. At that time a passing mail carrier advised that he believed the dog was the same one whose picture was posted on a flyer about a block away. At that time the flyer was retrieved and the owner of the dog was contacted.

From June 1, 2010 to date, the Animal Services Department has received 360 requests for service requiring investigations response. During the period spanning from the time the follow up investigation was created through June 22, 2010, the investigations division responded to 99 investigations covering 1,385 miles in the process. This was accomplished with an average of three field investigators on duty each day. The unfortunate reality is that the volume of requests for service far exceeds the department’s ability to always provide an immediate response. The department is actively pursuing improvements to minimize any delay in response time, and has reached out to multiple agencies to improve our work process. I am hopeful that Maya’s health will continue to improve, and am committed to doing everything in my power to prevent any recurrence of this nature.

Kathleen R. Labrada, Investigations Supervisor


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