Audit shows county facility treats animals poorly
Citing unnecessarily poor care for abandoned animals, the Plantation City Council joined other cities in asking the Broward County Commission for urgent changes at Broward Animal Care and Adoption.
The council approved a resolution at its Sept. 17 meeting, urging the county to quickly take action. Eight other cities, including Deerfield Beach, Margate and Pompano Beach, have also passed resolutions.
Broward County’s Bob Melton produced a scathing audit in December 2020, detailing improvements necessary for the homeless dogs and cats located at the adoption center, 2400 SW 42nd Ave., Fort Lauderdale.
A Sun-Sentinel article by Susannah Bryan in January noted the 208-page audit makes 135 recommendations and exposes a long list of woes ranging from keeping animals in the dark too long to an inefficient pet licensing program that’s costing the county $13 million a year in lost revenue.
For the past decade, Hallandale Beach Commissioner Michele Lazarow (pictured) has worked passionately and tirelessly to help the shelter become a “no-kill” facility, where animals would be euthanized only because of illnesses and not just for space.
I took up her suggestion that Plantation join other cities in urging changes that would bring better conditions for the animals. Lazarow vows not to stop fighting until the Broward County Commission hires a shelter director who will lead the department with compassion and transparency.
She says she doesn’t care “the administration is tired of hearing me.” She says that “you don’t pass laws protecting animals without making a few humans angry along the way.”
The audit summary was: “We conclude that kennel operations do not consistently adhere to best practices and laws. We conclude that programs and processes are not operating effectively,” the report read.
Bryan’s Sun-Sentinel article in January listed:
Animals in interior kennels are kept in the dark for 14 to 18 hours, potentially harming their medical and behavioral health. They are also left unattended for 16 to 18 hours.
Cat cages are too small and some dog cages that have no bedding, which can lead to dogs developing sores.
Kennels and cages are not secured. Anyone, including a child, can open them and remove an animal. Sometimes dogs jumping on the kennel door have opened the cages.
The shelter, which is budgeted for 75 employees, needs to hire 36 more people. Right now, it’s staffed at 65% of what it should be.
Staff spends only one hour cleaning kennels before the shelter opens, and that’s not enough time to eliminate the mess before visitors arrive. The cleanup leaves the floors and hallways wet, increasing risk of injury to volunteers and visitors.
The pressure cleaning system used to disinfect the cages does not function properly, increasing the risk of disease spreading from kennel to kennel.
The pet licensing program is ineffective, resulting in the loss of $13 million a year. The county issues licenses for only 17% percent of the estimated pets in Broward.
Staff and volunteers are not properly trained in how to handle animals. The county paid out $22,000 in liability claims for injured volunteers and $27,000 in workers’ comp claims for staff this past year.
A whopping 75% of calls to customer service go unanswered.
Lazarow addressed the Plantation council via Zoom at the Sept. 17 meeting.
“We have to speak up and I appreciate the Plantation council joining in,” she said. “I appreciate having fellow elected officials understand the importance of this.”
Lazarow suggests emailing the following: