Miami-Dade County commissioners expand animal services, but Pets’ Trust advocates aren’t happy

Miami-Dade commissioners added $2.2 million to expand animal services for the 2023-2024 county budget year, but again declined to implement the Pets’ Trust plan that the animal advocates wanted. 

The $2.2 million, recommended by Mayor Daniela Levine Cava, will come from the county’s “Repairs, Renovations, and Various Miscellaneous Projects” capital program. 

It will be aimed to reduce the shelter population and support animal wellbeing, according to the budget

Michael Rosenberg, who has led the Pets Trust effort for more than a decade, attended the budget hearing Thursday, as well as a previous hearing on Sept. 7. He said he was disappointed that the Pets’ Trust plan was not mentioned nor spoken about. 

“All those people that came down two weeks ago and there was no discussion,” he said. “Both times the commissioners said ‘thank you so much for coming and your views are important,’ but they didn’t do anything.” 

The Pets’ Trust plan was introduced in 2012. It aimed to raise $20 million to fund spay and neuter operations and increase pet ownership education in the community though raising household property taxes $20 a year. The concept was introduced to Miami-Dade voters as a nonbinding straw ballot that year, and favored by 64 percent of those who voted. 

Now, the tax would be around $11 per household per year, Rosenberg said. 

The reallocated $2.2 million will help fund spay/neuter operations, coordinate community adoption events, and promote fostering. 

They are also allocating $50,000 to the Miami Veterinary Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on spay/neuter operations and education for responsible pet ownership, and $75,000 to The Cat Network, Inc, a not-for-profit- profit organization aimed to reduce the overpopulation of feral and stray cats in South Florida. 

Though Rosenberg said he will continue fighting for the animals of Miami-Dade, he expressed his disappointment in a statement on his website

“A combination of events in 2023 gave us reason to hope that we had a good chance for an October 1, 2023 start date,” he said. “Sadly, it was only false hope.”

Angela Rivas is a Miami native majoring in Journalism and minoring in Criminal Justice. She has a passion for writing and dreams of becoming a journalist telling stories about our world.