As anyone who watched Miami-Dade Animal Services knows, Dr. Sara Pizano, director, quit recently. To those who thought she was the best director in the very troubled department's long, dismal history, this has been devastating. To those who campaigned to get her out, it might seem like a victory, but they should bear in mind the old maxim: Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.
Given that it's a county-run agency with the same if not greater financial pressure, not much will change about the way the shelter operates. But whatever you thought of her, Pizano was an experienced veterinarian. The new director is an public-agency administrator. That doesn't mean he won't try to do the best he can for the animals, but a vet certainly has the advantage in that situation. Good luck to ALex and everyone who works at the shelter.
"When I accepted the Director position at Miami-Dade Animal Services six years ago, I
knew the challenges would be great and the obstacles immense. Little did I know what
an understatement that would be! Looking back, it humbles me to think about the
accomplishments like seeing 122 of our shelter pets get adopted at one event, turning
over the entire fleet of archaic Animal Control Officer trucks and replacing them with
state of the art air conditioned vehicles, the improvement in animal care and treatments
that now could include blood transfusions and ultrasounds and just the sheer number of
animals saved as compared to back then. Stay tuned for the updated 6 Year Report that
will be out at the beginning of the new fiscal year to learn more about our continued
Increasing the number of animals saved from 6,000 to 14,000 has been no small feat and
all of you are to thank for that. Incredibly, we are on track to save even more, despite the
decrease during the renovations! Our Rescue Partners will break their all time record and
adoptions are up over last year. Also, compared to last year, the percent of animals
euthanized has decreased from 55% to 45%. We can all agree though, that 45% is
unacceptable and we continue to work to drive those numbers lower.
Your dedication to network on behalf of our shelter pets, spend countless hours working
and volunteering at the shelter in unbearable conditions or reaching out (and driving!) to
potential adopters and foster parents outside of our county led to this unprecedented
success. To the staff, the exponential increase in your workload has been a constant
burden to me and your work and dedication did not go unnoticed. Thank you to those of
you who go above and beyond every day.
I wish I could tell you that Animal Services is now perfect, but it is far from it and there
is so much more to do. The number of animals abandoned has escalated over the years
and the funding for our proactive programs and other needed resources cut. That’s why I
set up the 501c3 Spay Neuter Miami Foundation, Inc. and included community
spay/neuter programs in our Animal Services Trust Fund guidelines to subsidize
surgeries on our MAC unit ($25 for dogs and $15 for cats). Donations to both are tax
deductible and can be made online at www.spayneutermiami.com or
www.miamidade.gov/animals, respectively. If you are wondering if there are pet owners
who really want to have their pets sterilized, look no further than outside our gates during
the night, where you are likely to find people sleeping in their cars to ensure a spot on our
first come/first serve surgery days.
Each year we subsidize the MAC programs with grants and donations. Please help
spread the word that funding will be exhausted by the end of September and the
MAC program will be discontinued unless our community steps up. We know how
quickly negative information is spread so I challenge all of you to make this happen and
encourage people who care to donate to the Trust Fund or Foundation as soon as
I now leave the shelter in the very capable hands of our new Director, Alex Munoz. Alex
served as the Assistant County Manager and my boss two different times. I can assure
you that Alex cares very deeply about the Department, is an amazing leader and person
and I have all the confidence in the world that the shelter will continue to improve. Alex
is committed to the mission, along with all of us and I ask that you welcome him and
respect the impossible job he has been assigned to do. Animal Services needs help, not
I also want to thank all of our partners in rescue and to the ASPCA for honoring us with a
national community partnership. Alex is as committed to collaboration as I have been
and I know our partnerships will continue to thrive and grow under his watch. And
finally, thank you to the Board of County Commissioners, our previous County Manager,
George Burgess, our previous Mayor Carlos Alvarez, our current County Manager, Alina
Hudak and our new Mayor Carlos Gimenez, all of whom believed in and supported me
over these six years.
God bless you and all you continue to do for our shelter pets. Your support of me and of
Animal Services has been very much appreciated.''
With humility and gratitude,
Dr. Sara Pizano, Civilian