By: Claire Cornish
There were 198 white markers like tombstones placed along the grass outside Broward County Animal Care and Adoption — one for each of the animals killed there during March and April.
This number, while alarmingly high, is even more devastating considering there were 61 percent fewer animals entering and housed in the shelter in April 2020 than there were in April 2019, due to the Broward community who fostered a quarantine buddy to see them through COVID-19.
On June 13, 100 animal advocates gathered outside the shelter to protest the unprecedented level of euthanasia and wanted answers. They wanted to know why Broward County Animal Care remains closed to the public when both Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County animal services have re-opened.
Gator was one of the dogs who was euthanized. He had a rescue commitment, but he was killed without anyone bothering to get back to the rescue organization.
According to the shelter, Gator had untreatable cancer, however, but they do not have the resources to test. The last dog they said had inoperable spleen cancer had a benign tumor and is living a happy, healthy life with his adopter, so they typically fall back on cancer as a reason for euthanizing. However, there is still supposed to be a rescue plea. Gator didn’t get one.
The continued closure gives dogs and cats even less of a chance of adoption than usual. On Saturday, many potential adopters were turned away, the gates firmly locked, and a team of security guards patrolled the parking lot.
Advocates have grown tired of waiting for the changes that have been long promised but never delivered.
The celebration that occurred in the rescue community after the departure of former Director Lauralei Combs has dampened, and now, under the interim direction of Alessandra Medri, more animals than ever have been killed.
Many of these animals were euthanized without any opportunity for an email plea to local rescue groups, despite instruction from Broward County Commissioner Mark Bogen that this must be done before any animal is euthanized.
Dogs that had received rescue commitments have been euthanized under management that continues to obfuscate its way around animal welfare. None of the recommendations made by the independent auditor sent by Commissioner Bogen have been implemented, and animal advocates have grown tired of waiting for transparency, experienced leadership, and adequate staffing levels.
The protest was an opportunity to be heard, and for the community to speak up for the animals who cannot speak up for themselves. It was also a jarring reminder that 198 lives were lost, unnecessarily, in March and April, behind closed doors.
Advocates say it is time for the doors of the shelter to re-open. The animals deserve better.
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- Claire Cornish is a freelance writer, half marathon runner, and volunteer at Broward County Animal Care & Adoption. She is the proud mom of Callie the Labrador and a proud sister of Simon the Labrador mix.