Pawsitively Humane

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Grand Opening of the New Miami Dade Animal Services & Adoption Center

by Christine Michaels, Founder & President

Yesterday was a paw forward for pet advocates in Miami. With great fanfare, June 23, 2016 marked the grand opening of the new Miami-Dade Animal Services Pet Adoption & Protection Center.

pet shelter county animal shelter MDAS
Christine Michaels attends the Grand Opening of the Miami Dade county new animal services shelter

To a crowd of several hundred attendees, city and county dignitaries, pet advocate leaders and local residents, Director Alex Munoz made opening remarks for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Munoz touted the largest pet facility in the county and the collaborative efforts to retrofit an existing building into one of the most advanced pet shelter in the country.

Alex Munoz speaking at new MDAS shelter
MDAS Director Alex Munoz

Walking through the front doors and scanning above and around, I felt I was walking into a modern mall/museum. The double-story foyer entrance led your gaze to a hanging pet-inspired mobile.

Blue spaceship-like neon lights emanated from the main desk off to the left. An all glass enclosure with six kittens and catwalk to the right, and a main corridor down the center with high soffit-lit ceilings gave the sense of a futuristic walkway.

The center was designed to provide the pleasure of a discovery experience with the comforts of home. The homey details are forthcoming in this post. The focus is a relaxed environment for the pets and adopters to enhance the customer experience.

Before I take you on the grand tour, keep in mind a number of improvements were designed compared to the previous facility.
  1. 25% increase in shelter space for pets. 249 dog spaces old shelter vs. 350+ at the new shelter; 60 cages for cats at the old shelter; now 80
  2. Air condition quarters for all pets!
  3. Three surgery rooms for public pets (when a local resident brings their pet in for health issue); Two surgery rooms for shelter pets
  4. Advanced medical technology and equipment complement the skilled surgeons and staff
  5. High tech filtration system where air filtration is changed 6 times DAILY???
  6. Separate "pods" for dog and cat sections to minimize the spread of airborne illness.
  7. Computer kiosks for residents to search through available pets while they wait to have their pets attended to by shelter vet.
  8. A conference/training room for seminars, workshops, training sessions, and presentations.

Now for the grand tour.

Upon entering, to the immediate right is the cat section. The eye-catching glass cage with six bouncing kittens lured you in to watch the kittens climb, jump, play, and even paw fight within the modern maze-like catwalk. It was pure TV entertainment for all humans. All six kittens are siblings. Please click here to our cat website, Riverfront Cats, to see more photos of the cat/kitten section.

Passing the cat section, on the right is a staged living room with a sofa, recliner, pet photos on the wall, all designed to look and feel like your living room. The room was enclosed by glass walls. Walking up to the wall was a beautiful white pitbull wearing a bright pink bandana around her neck.

 I turned the corner to find the entrance. Staff workers greeted me with smiles and introduced me to Esmeralda, the pit bull. I was the first nonstaff visitor to enter the "living room" and sit and interact with Esmeralda. I felt honored.

pitbull mix, Miami Dade animal shelter

Esmeralda was overjoyed to have company and pawed my lap and offered me endless licks.  The living room concept was obvious--to help the homeless pet acclimate to home environment before adoption. Esmeralda was so enthusiastic she did not want me to leave. Of course I fell in love. But alas it was not meant for me to adopt her but I knew she would get adopted soon. (Note: it is against the law for Miami-Dade county residents to have pitbulls as pets; Residents from neighboring counties, however, can adopt from this shelter to take home to their counties which do permit pitbull breeds. There are ongoing efforts to overturn this anti-breed specific law in Miami).

Christine Michaels pit bulls MDAS animal shelter

Once my love fest with Esmeralda winded down, I ventured back into the hallways of peculiar two-legged creatures called Politicians.  I ran into Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Commissioner Diaz.  I was well aware of the failed or selective democracy process where the mayor reneged on his support of the Pets Trust and decided against implementing it.  But this was a special occasion that was still an improvement to the old facility. It was still a step forward. A tiny step but a forward step.

Christine Michaels Miami Mayor Carlos Diaz Miami County Commissioner Pepe Diaz MDAS

Outside the living room were cages for small to medium size dogs with ample room to walk and sit.

The doors facing the outdoors led to an outside area with covered astroturf for walking and training the dogs.

Back inside the main corridor, on the opposite side were quarters for the larger dog breeds.  Down the center of the corridor,the walk way split around the Ellipse room--and elliptical-shaped conference room to host presentations and workshops to the public as well as internally.

Following the walkway around either side of the Ellipse, walls are adorned with artwork created by local students.  On the right are dog inspired art pieces and on the left side is the cat art. These students are truly talented.

Parked outside the facility were two spay/neuter trailers for mobile surgeries.

The center is impressive--clean, bright, pleasant, comfortable-- and will no doubt encourage more locals to visit and adopt or to get involved as a volunteer in caring and/or promoting these pets.

The goal of MDAS is a no-kill shelter and the new center is a small paw forward.
Much more work is needed to reach that goal in terms of education and PSA programs to reach the masses.

In addition, county-established feral cat trapping teams is the biggest critical need yet to begin reversing the rate of continuous growing rate of homeless cats.

We are grateful for this progress and invite any reader to contact us for ways to help your city and county reach these goals.


Miami Dade Animal Services
3599 NW 79th Avenue
Doral, Fl  33122

The center is open Monday through Friday 10am-6pm; Saturday & Sundays 10am-4pm

We encourage locals to follow MDAS on Facebook and Instragram.
For  @urgentdogsofmiami and @urgentcatsofmiami for all

We are all in this together. And together we can make a difference.


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