Miami-Dade Animal Services Center Gets an Upgrade in Size and Location
Tails wagged and ribbons were cut at Miami-Dade’s new $15 million dollar Animal Services shelter in Doral, on Monday.
The opening ceremony featured political heads alongside furry companions --some waiting to be adopted.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez led efforts to open the pet protection and adoption center. He received a round of applause after declaring that the center may be “the largest air-conditioned animal shelter in the United States.”
At 70,000 square feet, the shelter is double the size of the previous facility and comes with air ventilation, outdoor and indoor play areas for rescues, and two separate veterinary clinics.
Architect Tony Rosabal designed the new facility, which spreads across 5 acres.
“It’s not your typical shelter. It was designed with the concept of being like a mall,” Rosabal said. "We figured let’s create a place that’s fun. You can see from the design it’s very playful.”
Inside, a pet chandelier with metallic bones and pet themed toys hangs overhead.
Animals up for adoption lie in air-conditioned pods, some large enough to hold beds for the dogs and bungalows for the cats.
The project was initially launched more than a decade ago in response to calls from animal rights groups to decrease the number of strays on the street, but it took years to find a large enough space.
Upset over the lull of time it took to complete, Pet's Trust Miami organized a rally across the shelter.
Protesters claim the County never adopted a proposed household tax for animal services, even though nearly 500 signatures were collected.
“This is not a pet protection center, this is Gimenez’s pet deception center,” said Rita Schwartz, one of the protestors.
Debie Day, president of the non-profit No Kill Nation, was at the ceremony. She says she worked closely with county officials to work on decreasing euthanizations.
“We don’t consider no kill, no kill until they stop killing all healthy and treatable animals,” Day said. “We’re not there yet, but we’re way above 50 percent, which is the national average kill rate.”
Alex Munoz, the County’s Animal Services Department director, says the County’s save-rate for dogs and cats is at 90 percent. Still he admits space is an issue.
“We get 250 dogs a week,” Munoz said. “It’s an incredible amount of pets coming in that we want to get adopted quickly.”
The shelter is now open to the public at 3599 NW 79th Ave., Doral. It offers pet-care workshops, pet adoptions and spay and neuter services.