I believe in criticism – especially when it comes to our government bodies. After all, democracy was designed so the populous would be forced to keep a watchful eye on their elected & appointed officials, and remove/replace them as necessary. We must remain ever-vigilant if justice is to be served.
Despite the title of this post, I don’t believe in “hateful criticism”; I believe in constructive criticism. But sometimes, when government bodies refuse to hear the voices of the people, refuse to adopt new policies, refuse to honor their duties – we must shine a spotlight on their misdeeds. That doesn’t mean being hateful, and frankly, I’m always respectful when documenting abuses or missteps.
I took the “hateful criticism” phrase (and chose to include it in the title of my post) from a recent email Dr. Sara Pizano, Director of Miami Dade Animal Services (MDAS) sent out to the rescue community and others announcing some good news (a highly lauded new vet) and some other shelter announcements. I wanted to make a point.
Throughout the centuries, many of the wrongs we’ve inflicted on our fellow human beings and living creatures have been gradually righted. And HOW has this happened? By caring citizens speaking up and taking action against the injustices they see around them.
Do you think those working for women’s suffrage should have stayed silent about the unequal treatment of women? Do you think those sitting for Civil Rights should have stayed silent against the abuses being perpetrated against African American citizens? Do you think those striving to end the beating and drowning of homeless companion animals in our cities’ public squares should have stayed silent? NO. Silence is not how justice is served, and it’s not how wrongs are righted.
As Christie Keith wrote recently, “What the heck is wrong with all these animal control agencies, acting like doing the people’s work on the people’s dime means they don’t have to answer to the people?” Amen. And MDAS is yet another example of this “above the law, above the people” mentality. You exist to serve US, your salary is paid for by US, you need to answer to US – plain and simple. Sorry if that’s an inconvenience.
And so, without further adieu, here’s part of the email Dr. Pizano sent out. My comments in italics.
At Animal Services, our goal is to save as many animals as possible and give them the best care possible.
Despite documented abuses, a 60%+ kill rate, animals being kept where the public can’t see them, killing animals when rescues have agreed to take them, and so on, you expect us to believe your goal is to save as many animals as possible? If that were true, there are COUNTLESS steps you could take to make that happen. See this previous blog post outlining just some of the simple changes you could make that would help save lives.
We work hard to do that in a heartbreaking and challenging environment. Our Department is far from perfect and we are constantly striving to improve from every angle and we need your help to do that. Unfortunately, there are people who believe this administration and staff have ill intent but nothing could be farther from the truth.
Then prove it. Prove that you care about saving lives. Wholeheartedly implement the No Kill Equation. Listen to the experts. Stop the needless killing. Only YOU can do it, and you can do it today. So stop making excuses and make it happen. Only then will we believe you have the right intentions.
The sad thing is that spreading inaccurate information and partial truths that turn uneducated people against the shelter, hurts our shelter pets.
Inaccurate information and half truths? I’ve seen countless documented cases of abuse, neglect and animals being “accidentally” killed or “lost” at MDAS. These are verified accounts. Granted, the shelter obviously doesn’t want this information revealed publicly, but “misinformation” it sure ain’t. Stop playing the innocent victim – we aren’t buying it.
Protesting outside our building will make potential adopters turn their cars around. Inundating our staff with constant email complaints/criticism and requests for voluminous information takes our limited staff away from focusing on saving the pets in the shelter, reuniting them with their families and developing programs to prevent surrenders and increasing the number of pets saved.
This I find laughable. God forbid the caring public should actually take the time to find out what happened to “lost” animals, injured animals who’ve gone untreated, and animals who were “accidentally” killed. God forbid the caring public should email to try to save animals’ lives or buy them a little more time. God forbid the caring public should require staff to earn their salaries and force them to look up records and explain their actions. Additionally, Freedom of Information Act Requests (which the shelter requires members of the public file for most questions) require that those making the inquiry pay staff time, so you can’t make the claim that those take away from shelter resources. And funny, somehow I thought the taxpayers paid MDAS’ staff salaries to … do work? Work does include answering emails and information requests from the public, just FYI.
Thank you to those of you who support our staff and shelter pets. To those of you who continue to send disrespectful, hateful e-mails and post negative comments on your Facebook pages in an attempt to discredit this organization, we sincerely hope that you someday understand that you are hurting our shelter pets and we can save so many more if we all work together.
Right … those of who are exposing the killing, exposing the abuse and working towards reform are the ones hurting the shelter pets. Not the ones actually performing the abuse, injecting the blue juice, and dooming 20,000+ animals a year to death. Keep on telling yourself that, Dr. Pizano. If it helps you sleep at night, so be it.