Who will pay for Miami's 'No Kill' animal shelter?

The Pets' Trust legislation offers the answer


MIAMI – On June 12th, a proposal to turn Miami-Dade Animal Services -- one of the highest kill shelters in the country -- into a No Kill shelter, was passed unanimously by a Miami-Dade County committee led by Commissioner Pepe Diaz, a longtime advocate for the animals.

The committee now has six months to present recommendations for its implementation, including financial support, before it is voted on by the full County Commission.

In theory, it sounds like a great idea.

But taking No Kill from theory to reality is going to take a lot more than a unanimous decision by the county commission.

How will the county provide for the 35,000 animals that arrive at the shelter yearly if they take killing them out of the equation?

In order to answer that question we have to put aside the belief that a No Kill policy means that every animal that comes into the shelter, regardless of its condition, will be saved.

According to No Kill Nation, a leading national advocacy organization dedicated to ending the killing of healthy and treatable animals in our nation's shelters, No Kill means that no savable animals -- roughly 95 percent of all intakes -- are put to death.

In other words, sick animals who cannot be treated will be humanely euthanized to prevent them further suffering.

All other animals will be sent to shelters in other states, foster care, or to rescue groups who will work to find them permanent homes.

According to No Kill Nation, there are plenty of No Kill animal control shelters to prove it can happen. In Miami-Dade County, of the 35,000 animals that arrive at the shelter, roughly 21,000 are put to death.

But while there is precedent, there's still the question of who will pay for it.

For that answer, I'll revisit a column I wrote at the beginning of this year, introducing The Pets' Trust, the brainchild of Michael Rosenberg, a Miami-Dade citizen who vowed to make a positive outcome of a heartbreaking situation after Wren, the kitten he adopted from Miami-Dade Animal Services, died from a deadly virus that spread through the shelter a few days after he brought her home.

The Pets' Trust would help provide funding for programs and resources that would cut down, and hopefully eliminate, many of the problems that plague Miami-Dade Animal Services.

To fund the Pets' Trust, Miami-Dade homeowners would be assessed approximately $20 each year on their property tax. It offers the solution the county needs to fund the No Kill proposal.

For the past several months, Rosenberg has worked to gather support for The Pets' Trust from politicians, rescue groups, and animal activists, including Ron Magill, Donna Shalala, Cesar Milan, all of whom have endorsed it.

The commission's vote to support No Kill may be just what he needed to win support for the Pets' Trust amendment. And it couldn't have come at a better time.

On July 17th, commissioners will vote on whether or not to put the The Pets' Trust amendment on the November ballot.

Rosenberg has kept the promise he made after his kitten died. Now it's up to the leaders and the citizens of Miami-Dade County to do the rest.

I applaud Miami-Dade County for taking the first step to turn Miami-Dade Animal Services into a No Kill shelter.

I encourage the commission to continue it support of the No Kill policy and to recognize that The Pets' Trust is the financial solution they are seeking to fund the program. And I urge voters to support The Pets' Trust at the polls and help make No Kill a reality in Miami-Dade County.