Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pets' Trust Miami

If you read our post, The con-fer-rence, on Momma's experience at the 2016 BlogPaws conference, you might remember Momma mentioning meeting Christine Michaels from Riverfront Cats and Pawsitively Humane. Christine is the most beautiful (inside and outside) and passionate woman you will ever meet. Talk to her for only a few minutes and you'll be ready to foster 100 cats and save the world. She's worked hard to be an advocate for cats and she's an inspiration for rescuers, for those that want to make a difference, for women, AND for everyone else. At the conference, we talked about TNR and rescuing cats as well as an issue I promised I'd cover in a separate post because I wanted to research it adequately first. The issue? Cat welfare in southern Florida. 

I first became acquainted with the problem of homeless and feral cats in southern Florida when a call went out across cat bloggers' sites to help ten indoor cats who were dumped and abandoned in the "wild." Why someone would think cats used to the indoors could survive outside is beyond me. The cats were described as frightened and confused. In trying to help find a solution with another blogger, I found that the feral/homeless cat population in southern Florida is out of control. There are simply not enough resources for these cats in relation to their population. While the situation is relatively common in other parts of the country, several people commented that southern Florida's problem is more extreme. When I met Christine, she told me the main issue is that there isn't enough space to help these cats ... while she's succeeded in raising funds, she doesn't have a building or enough fosters to make a difference in the problem. 

In 2012, voters in Miami-Dade County supported the creation of Pets' Trust (link to Miami Herald article) with the following goals (link to Pets' Trust Miami) ...
“Pets’ Trust Miami is a citizens’ initiative to improve animal welfare, increase adoptions and decrease overpopulation by providing free and low cost spay/neuter, educational programs, financial assistance for rescue groups, and other programs that benefit our animal (sic). Miami Dade Animal Services receives almost 30,000 dogs and cats each year and thousands of these adoptable animals are killed at the shelter because of lack of space. More than 500,000 stray cats and countless dogs live on our streets with tens of thousands facing death every year as they struggle to survive in an hostile environment. The Pets’ Trust calls for a referendum/vote that engages the entire community and garners their support with the willingness to pay for these programs with a slight property tax increase, and with that vote recognizes the problem is community wide and that everyone needs be a part of the solution. " {http://www.petstrustmiami.com/#about}
The voters approved funding the program with a property tax increase. On June 4, 2013, a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners supported the adoption of an Animal Services Department Strategic Plan that would direct the use of these funds (link to document). So what's the problem?  The County Commissioners went against the vote of residents to deny implementation of the property tax. Because the issue on the ballot was a "non binding straw ballot" the commissioners have the final say on implementation of the initiative. To read more about how this happened (from the Miami Herald): Dreams of a Dade Pets’ Trust dashed at meeting. As if that wasn't shock enough, apparently the National Rifle Association lobbied against the initiative. Why? Miami-Dade backed 'Pet Trust' bill stalls in committee after cat fight with NRA.

MORIN MIAMI HERALD CARTOON EDITORIAL (from http://www.petstrustmiami.com/morin-miami-herald-cartoon-editorial).


How can you help?

From Christine:
"The Mayor's name is Carlos Gimenez. The next voting date for the local primaries is August 30, and the next election is November 8. We will be asking residents to vote for Raquel Regalado. She claims she will ensure the Pets Trust initiative is materialized per the voter majority. So we need folks to get out and vote August 30th."
For those of us who live in other parts of the country, Pets' Trust Miami offers several options to help: Donate or host a fundraiser, volunteer, and spread the word. For more information on these options: 
By e-mail: info@petstrustmiami.com. 
By phone: 305.417.8404.

If you know anyone in the Miami-Dade County area, PLEASE make them aware of the upcoming primary vote on August 30. Also, sharing the issue on social media from across the country will hopefully raise awareness and educate voters on the issue. Why would County Commissioners NOT respect the vote of their residents?!!? The issue was discussed in a Miami Herald op-ed article: County leaders ignoring the people’s will.

Every single day ... every single minute in this country, and around the world, animals are mal-treated, animals are abused, animals are marginalized because they don't have a voice. Instead of seeing a life ... a soul ... most people see an ANIMAL. As if they are any less than we are ... as if animals feel less or struggle less or are just worth LESS. Life is precious regardless of form - you respect LIFE or you DO NOT (I addressed respect for life and the link between animal abuse and human violence in a note on our Facebook page). People taking a stand ... people standing up and voting to tax themselves so that all lives are respected, is not very common. So when it happens, it should be celebrated. It should be heard by our elected leaders. Those leaders were elected by the same people that voted on this initiative. To say that the voters don't know what they're voting for is to say that the people who elected you are not intelligent enough to vote. And it follows then that when you were elected, they were equally "ignorant." If you don't respect your constituents and you think they need you to make decisions for them - in direct opposition to a common vote - you don't deserve their trust. You don't deserve their vote. And you are forgetting your oath as a representative of the people, you are forgetting your duties, you are forgetting the people who voted for you, and you are forgetting what it means to be a member of a democracy.


For more information:

Pets Trust Miami-a Chronological History.

14 comments:

  1. You are so right, Christine is an absolute sweetheart and tireless advocate for animals. The company I work for has their corporate office in southern Florida so I'll spread the word. Thank you for telling us about this.

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  2. Pawsum posty. We too live in an area dat has a big purroblem and no real solutions fanks to ignorance and da law makers; who are ignorant too. We send purrayers fur all da animals in need. And purray fur da day when more peeps are educated and less animals need help.

    Luv ya'

    Dezi and Raena

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    1. We still hope that one day all kitties will have loving homes and full bellies :) Likely? No. But we especially know the value of every life since Bear was homeless when we met. It's so hard to believe that the cat I have now ever knew what it is to be cold or hungry or wet.

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  3. You're right, Miss Christine is a beautiful person...and we love everything she does to help the feral cats in her area. Thanks for sharing this info.

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  4. Christine is so tireless, and this is an important message! That part of the country is really distracted right now and the media is so busy talking about Zika that they probably aren't giving other issues as much thought as they should. Reminding them that this is an important, ongoing issue that needs to be taken care of is really timely.

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  5. I've met many of Christine's outdoor cats firsthand. They are such precious and innocent creatures. The property tax increase was so slight, yet it could have made such a significant difference when collectively added up to help animals. I was shocked when it didn't go through. I'll be sure to share this. As the life of every cat counts, so does every vote. Purrs from Deb and the Zee/Zoey gang.

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    1. I agree. Life is valuable. And every cat ... every VOICE counts!

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