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Broward County's animal shelter remains overflowing with cats, dogs

Three dogs inside their cages.
Mike Stocker
South Florida Sun Sentinel
FILE - Dogs awaiting adoption at Broward County Animal Care and Adoption in July of 2022.

Despite a host of incentives being offered to prospective pet owners, Broward County Animal Care officials say the shelter remains at overcapacity — mostly an overflow of dogs.

Shelter officials report they have roughly 27 dogs that have been there for 100 days, 13 for 200 days, and one dog that has been there for 300 days.

“We have dogs in places that are not meant to be house dogs … And every shelter you talk to is going to have the same issue,” Doug Brightwell, the new director of Broward County Animal Care, told WLRN. He previously worked as Director of Animal Services for Pinellas County.

The dire situation comes a year after WLRN reported that the county's animal shelter was running out of space and pitching pet owners more incentives to keep their pets. The shelter began offering free food for life for any dog over the age of five who was adopted. They continue to waive fees, removing the cost of adopting a dog or cat.

The Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis also approved incentives.

Last week, DeSantis signed the "Framework for Freedom Budget," which contained sales tax changes that include a one-year tax exemption on pet food and a permanent tax exemption on over-the-counter pet medications.

Broward County Animal Care is working to care for every dog that comes to their shelter, says Brightwell, who notes shelter staff give medical treatment or rehabilitation so the pets can be ready to go to their new home.

He says the overcapacity hinders the shelter from providing such service. Animals need to move out of their shelters and into their homes or to rescues. Because animals aren’t leaving the shelter, there isn't any room for new animals to enter.

READ MORE: Broward animal shelter operating over capacity, offers incentives for adoption

“We have been what we call diverting intake for over a month now because … we don't have the physical space to bring any more dogs into our building,” Brightwell said. “And so we have to turn away the people and the dogs who need our services because there's no room in the end to assist.”

Brightwell and Broward County Animal Care are calling on the community to come and help in any way they can.

“ We need to get our community in its entirety to come to the table with us and understand that individual agencies cannot manage and solve the animal welfare issues in Broward County … we've all got to come to the table and understand this is a network problem and a network solution is necessary.”

Doug Brightwell is the new director of Broward County Animal Care. He previously worked as Director of Animal Services for Pinellas County.
Broward County Animal Care
Doug Brightwell is the new director of Broward County Animal Care. He previously worked as Director of Animal Services for Pinellas County.

Broward County Animal Care allows fostering of pets for those who are unsure about adoption. They can place a dog in foster status with you for a week or so to make sure it’s a good fit for your family before completing the adoption.

Volunteering is also another way to help out the shelters. They have spots open for volunteers to walk the dogs, and to spend time with the animals.

“The more volunteer base we have that come in, the more enrichment it provides for animals and the more ready those animals will be to go home to a permanent home when the time comes,” Brightwell said.

The Broward Animal Care adoption center is located at 2400 SW 42nd Street in Fort Lauderdale. It's open for adoptions seven days a week from 11 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.  ​

Natu Tweh is WLRN's Morning Host.
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