Miami-Dade Animal Services over capacity as dogs abandoned, rescued during hurricane

Shelter reopens Wednesday with limited services

By Erica Rakow - Reporter

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - Miami-Dade Animal Services is trying to avoid euthanizing animals after Hurricane Irma, which resulted in numerous lost and unclaimed pets.

None of the animals have been adopted since the shelter was forced to close for nearly a week.

Animal Services officials said their kennels are full as some pets were surrendered and others were rescued.

"The biggest impact has been seen in shelter population going up because as the storm was approaching, people aren't adopting animals, rescue groups aren't taking animals, but animals are coming in throughout those days," said Alex Munoz, director of Miami-Dade Animal Services.

From last Wednesday to Saturday there were reports of 50 dogs left behind and tethered.

"People were tying their pets up and evacuating without them?" Local 10 News reporter Erica Rakow asked.

"In some cases, yeah. We had quite a few calls," Munoz said.

To help make room for animals impacted by the storm, 100 dogs were moved out of the shelter Sept. 6.

One-by-one, the ASPCA loaded them up and sent them to their  emergency shelter in South Carolina.

The animals joined others that were rescued after Hurricane Harvey and were taken to the 40,000-square-foot facility.

A tactical team was also sent to the west coast of Florida to help storm-impacted animals in that region, including a large group of animals that were stranded in flood waters in Lee County.

"We have Fish and Wildlife boats, we have ASPCA boats. We'll take our animal control officers in there to help secure the animals. We'll give them a vet triage just to make sure they're healthy. We will transport them off that area to a staging area," said Dick Green, of ASPCA disaster operations.

Meanwhile, the animal control officers at home will continue the work rescuing and investigating cruelty and abandonment cases.

"The follow-up will be we responded immediately to those animals in the field as the storm was approaching, and then we are following up with the violation side after the storm," Munoz said.

The shelter's director said they will prosecute criminally where possible.

Miami-Dade Animal Services reopened Wednesday with limited services.

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