Miami-Dade Animal Services, Humane Society of Greater Miami and The Cat Network joined the ASPCA Partnership in January 2011. In just four short years of working collaboratively, the agencies have dramatically increased both the live release rate (LRR) and the number of spay/neuter surgeries, tackling the homeless pet problem on a community-wide basis.
Watch the Miami-Dade ASPCA Partnership agencies in action:
Miami-Dade County, FL
2011 Total Intake
2011 Targeted Spay/Neuter
*2013 Census estimate
What They've Accomplished Together
From 2010 to 2014, the agencies saw the following changes in their combined data:
- 41% point increase in LRR, resulting in an 82.2% LRR for 2014
- 27,198 live releases in 2014, a steady increase over 14,706 in 2010
- 82% increase in S/N surgeries
- 74% decrease in euthanasia
- 7% decrease in intake
"The real benefit of the ASPCA Partnership is that there is no longer an 'us versus them' mentality. We're really working together to change things for animals in Miami."
– Alex Muñoz, Executive Director, Miami-Dade Animal Services.
Much of Miami-Dade's soaring live release rate can be attributed to their community supported TNR program. The second Saturday of each month, MDAS hosts TNR training classes for the public, teaching community members the proper procedures for trapping cats and bringing them to the agency for care. Care includes sterilization, vaccination and ear tipping. After vetting, the cats are returned to the field by the community members who brought them in or, upon request, MDAS will return the cats to their colonies. As a result of free, easy and accessible TNR services to community members, MDAS has performed 11,629 TNR surgeries since January 2013!
Additionally, starting in December 2013, MDAS began a managed intake program, requiring owners who are surrendering animals to schedule an appointment to do so. The result has been more predictable intake and fewer dogs coming into the shelter.
"This partnership is all about looking for ways we can work together to help animals in Miami." – Kathleen Labrada, Chief, Operations and Enforcement, Miami-Dade Animal Services
Another success story is the Adoption Ambassador program, a foster program that empowers foster parents to find their foster animals homes—and the authority to conduct the actual adoptions offsite. Since the program started in January 2013, 644 animals were successfully placed in homes by foster families.
Finally, ASPCA grants for equipment and spay/neuter subsidies helped the partners expand their spay/neuter capacity. Mobile clinics once on the road only two to three days a week are now operating four days a week around Miami. Several joint spay/neuter events have resulted in hundreds of surgeries for feral and free-roaming cats.
Why It Worked
Before joining the partnership, the three agencies rarely collaborated or met in person, and the monthly face-to-face meetings that were part of the program created a shift in relationships.
"We got to know each other very well during the first year and rid ourselves of lots of preconceived notions about each other," says Charlene Grall, president of The Cat Network. "Building those relationships and learning about the challenges each of us faced was incredibly invaluable to each of our groups."
The Miami-Dade County partners are also increasing LRR through joint spay/neuter events and shared adoption promotions; in the past, each agency coordinated and promoted their own events. A Beat the Heat Campaign that offered $15 sterilizations for cats resulted in a total of 569 surgeries in five days. And 2014's R.O.A.R. to Their Rescue, a collaborative adoption promotion, resulted in 452 dogs adopted in 20 days.
Challenges They Faced
One significant stumbling block was the existence of traditional "old school" views on adoption practices. When trying to find new homes for harder-to-place animals, such as senior pets, adult cats and pit bull-type dogs, the partners weren't taking advantage of proven strategies like reduced-fee and fee-waived adoptions. The issue wasn't that they were unfamiliar with these techniques; they simply had strong concerns about potential consequences and were very reluctant to put these strategies in place.
"The guidance and expertise we have received from the ASPCA as a result of our Partnership is truly invaluable. We have saved thousands of animals over and above our baseline, thanks to the 'A.'"
– Laurie Hoffman, Executive Director, Humane Society of Greater Miami
Miami partners show no signs of slowing down and will continue to collaborate on TNR and S/N initiatives and joint adoption events. MDAS will be adding an intake coordinator position that will focus on intervention and future safety net services. Additionally, a neonate fostering program is also in the works.