Residents thinking about adopting a pet may want to take advantage of a limited offer by Miami-Dade Animal Services: Take home a dog or cat for a reduced rate or for free.
In an effort to boost adoptions, the county shelter is waiving or reducing adoption fees through June 30. The fee drop is because summer usually brings more animals and fewer people to the shelters, not just in South Florida but across the United States, said Shelter Services & Live Release Programs Chief Lorna Mejia.
“More cats are born in the spring and summer. Now we have a bunch of kittens, and that's why we always try to emphasize neutering. As for dogs, the population normally also increases during the summer, although there's no particular reason,” Mejia said.
Summer is also when fewer people go to the shelters in search of pets to adopt, largely because they are on vacation and may be postponing the decision. Through the end of June 30, people who adopt a dog more than 4 months old will pay $30 instead of the usual $65. That includes the tag, vaccines, neutering and a microchip. The full fee applies to puppies younger than 4 months.
You can also take home a cat at no charge until the end of June, with all vaccines, neutering and a microchip. A tag is not required for cats. Adopting a cat normally costs $35.
“We are trying to remind the community that the puppies and cats we have at the shelter need a home, and with this offer we want to push people to adopt them,” Mejia said. “Or, if someone was thinking of doing it [adopting], this is a good opportunity to come and see the animals we have.”
The shelter, at 3599 NW 79th Ave. in Doral, is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Mejia stressed the importance of adoptions because the shelter receives from 28,000 to 30,000 animals per year, brought in from the streets or by owners who surrender them for a number of reasons. About 9,000 are adopted, and the rest go into programs with groups that rescue and transport them to other shelters around the country, and people who foster them at home until an adoption is arranged.
"In 2015, we managed to save 90 percent of the animals that were in the shelter, dogs and cats. Since that year, we have maintained that percentage for dogs, and for cats, it's 87 percent," she said. "The programs for adoptions, special offers, rescue, transportation, are all due to the fact that we have limited space. Our job is to find homes for these animals.”
Mejia said people who cannot adopt a pet can also volunteer to work at the shelter, bathing the animals, taking them out for walks and in general making their lives more pleasant until they are adopted. They can also foster the cats and dogs at home.
And now that hurricane season is starting Friday, Mejia offered a couple of tips on taking care of pets during storms.
“We want to remind the community that just as we prepare the home and family for storms, we have to do the same for pets. They should be vaccinated and have some sort of identification, in case they become separated in an emergency,” she said.
Miami-Dade residents should also pay attention to the lists of shelters available for pets and their owners when storms approach South Florida, she added.