Protesters Want Head Of Animal Services Director

MIAMI (CBS4) – Animal welfare advocates chanted and waived signs Tuesday that demanded the firing of Miami-Dade Animal Services Director Sara Pizano.

The roughly hour-long demonstration, according to CBS Miami news partner the Miami Herald, went on while a plane flew overhead with a banner that said Animal Services kills 325 dogs and cats each day with taxpayer money.

Protesters chanted “Stop the killing, stop the pain, Sara Pizano is to Blame,” during the demonstration.

Pizano has been the director of the Miami-Dade Animal Services department since 2005. According to the Herald, two incidents, including an employee using a method of killing cats called “heart stick,” have angered animal rights activists.

A “heart stick” is a procedure when a worker injects a needle directly into the heart and then delivers a dosage of drugs directly into the heart.

According to the Herald, Animal Services takes in approximately 34,000 cats and dogs per year, but also has to put down roughly 21,000 animals a year.

  • Carol

    If people would newter and spay their animals as they should all of this would end but they either refuse or don’t have the money to do so whatever the reason there are so many animals and not all of them can live.

    But killing like this is so horrible I really don’t have the words there has to be another way or as other states do ship them to other states that have more room for them and can find homes.

    There is another question what is she supposed to do with all of the animals?

    • Evelyn

      it starts with awareness. People need to be more responsible with their pets, yes. Shelters need to do their part to make the animals adoptable. They need to bathe, comb, feed, and provide proper shelter–AC when hot, heat when cold, bedding, etc. They need to prevent infection by vaccinating all the animals. They need to spray for fleas/ticks. They need to have pet fairs and adoption centers or activities to get word out to the community, instead of killing these animals within a week of arrival. We need to write to our commissioners, mayor, congressman, for funding for these shelters. In London, pet shops and breeding of animals for sale is not permitted. Shelters move the adoptions and only euthanize if the anima is terminally ill. We have one of the richest countries and resources in the world. Why do we allow this cruelty to happen? Why do we allow puppy mills? It has to start with awareness and spreading the word. I agree, if Dr. Pizano is not doing anything to initiate change or spread awareness, then she needs to be replaced with someone else who can do a better job. But we as citizens need to let everyone what is going on at this shelter and get help. I was there just a few months ago adopting my two dogs, and I heard the screaming of an animal. It was shrill and painful to hear. We are turned and stopped in our tracks. We need someone to go in there and see what is going on. Let’s ignite some change folks. It starts with us. I also agree the vets charge a crazy amount of money for any little procedure, visit, or shot. Something needs to be done to regulate them too.

    • Tina McNulty

      Shouldn’t it be God’s choice?

  • G.D. Bailey

    Dr. Pizano is a horror. She kills healthy animals only because their owners want them dead. Most veterinarians refuse to kill healthy animals. Most veterinarians enjoy helping sick animal get better. Pizano enjoys killing them. It’s appalling that Cat Network backs Pizano. After cats were killed by painful heart stick, and it was caught on video, Pizano had the video camera removed. Now employees can kill animals however they want and no one will ever know, including Pizano. Pizano earns $145,000 a year. What a waste of our tax money!

    • South Beach Guy

      I’m sure the people that work at the shelter and animal service love animals. They chose that line of work for a reason and it wasnt to hurt animals.

      If you want to “help” step up and apply for the animal service, walk a mile in their shoes, then post your comments that have no merit.

      • Bj Dyson

        Your a jerk off.

      • Anne

        I know one of them and she drinks herself into a blackout every night because of the horrible stuff she does at her job.

      • NANCI00

        The opposite is true. No one with a heart can work in such a place for long where puppies and young dogs are killed for lack of space, lack of a willing adopter. Killing 300 animals a day…well, imagine that scene , pocking and choosing that many for death every day of your life? Animal lovers do not apply for those jobs and if they do, they do not stay long.


      • Ramon

        i hope you get put down…ill sponsor that heart stick

    • ana

      i want to see you do a better job of housing these pets. Let’s see how fast they will want to get you out too.
      Bottom line is few people choose to adopt an older pet. Few people choose to spay/neuter and therefore overpopulate the strays who end up in the pound. So if we educate our community then there will be no more pets being euthanized.

      • Tina McNulty


    • Heartbroken

      I agree something needs to change in this shelter. I recently had the personal experience of adopting two shelter dogs and the worker helping me told me flat out–they have the right to euthanize pets as soon as 4-5 days, healthy, young, old animals. My animals were given to me in filth. They wreaked of urine and were so thin their spine was well defined. They were neutered without being bathed and then proceeded to tell me I could not bathe them for another 10 days. I was horrified at the conditions. It’s survival of the fittest there–whoever is weak does not eat. They spray/clean the cages with the animals inside them. They do nothing to make these animals adoptable. I do not see any fairs, flyers, ads to helps these animals get adopted. This is a garbage dump for animals. Something needs to done. Please go there and see for yourself. Track the animals–sign up for email alerts and see for yourself. The dogs you track are no longer “there” after 4 days. It’s heartbreaking to see the extent of so many breeds, ages, young and old and they are killing them. This is a high kill shelter and it has to stop.

      • Betsy Graber

        I know for sure that what you say, is true. My heart breaks each time I go into the Miami -Dade Animal Services (MDAS building). Many dogs have no description, and after being marked, erroneously, “aggressive,” there is no testing done to evaluate the animal’s condition. Most of these dogs are scared, being grabbed so harshly for a shot. What they display is fear, and not aggression. These dogs waste away in the outside area, Ward C, where they are not seen to be adopted. Thank goodness for animal groups who upload pictures of these dogs onto Facebook so they can be seen and pulled out of that concentration camp in time. The poor cats don’t have any chance of getting out.

  • South Beach Guy

    Sad the animals have to be put down but not much else to do with all of them and on the street most will suffer and die.

    And the animal service cant put down 325 animals a day!!! That’s almost 119,000 animals a year and they are only taking in 34,000 a year… Hmmmmmmm something doesent add up here. The math says they put down about 58 animals a day throughout Miami.

    Think once again the nuts are making their own facts to push their agenda.

    • lauren

      The plane said 325 animals a week, there was a typo in the article.

    • nanook

      the banner actually said 325 a week. misreported.

    • Mariela

      didn’t you read the actual sign protester was holding? it said 54 a day, 325 a week?? then again YOU make up your own facts to PUSH your agenda. Think before you write.

  • G.D. Bailey

    Many people have been at Animal Services and seen lots of empty cages. Pizano could have left the animals in the cages and given them more of a chance to be adopted. But she rushed to kill them. She kills healthy animals just because their “owner” requests it. People need to get their facts right. Don’t just parrot hype you hear from Animal Services. People who want Pizano fired have nothing personal to gain. But Pizano has her $145, 000 a year salary as a motivation for her cover-ups and lies.

    • Mike

      I have listened to the rhetoric over this for the past weeks and the ignorance is unbelievable. The no-kill agenda that is so evident is trying to grab at whatever issue they can to try to make this happen. There is no magic switch that can be thrown and suddenly no more animals will be euthanized at MDAS. Change takes time and in shelters as big as MDAS, it is virtually unrealistic to believe it will ever happen without a MAJOR change in the attitudes of the irresponsible pet owners in the community.It is disgusting to me how people blame Dr Pizano for the shortcomings of the community and in the same breath minimize, to the point of non-existence, the positive changes that have happened under her watch – see your comment below about how the increase in adoptions is wholly due to rescues taking more. Where else should they go if the people aren’t coming into adopt them?
      In no way am I saying there is not room for change, hell I don’t think Pizano would dispute that, but for all of everyones screaming, no one yet that I have heard has voiced a single idea of WHAT to change besides Dr Pizano. The comment above about empty cages and more time points to the general ignorance and the curtain of misrepresentation that is being woven by those who are pushing for this. I am curious of what you think would happen if you stopped euthanizing animals because there were empty cages, meanwhile the nearly 100 animals a day continued to come in. Ever have a kid in daycare G.D.? Ever see what happens when one kid comes in sick? What do you think the conditions of animals in the care of MDAS, if every cage was full all of the time and animals lingered for long periods? Disease would be rampant. Then you would be blaming Dr Pizano for that as well I am sure.
      Shelter medicine is a different breed. What happens in small communities does not always carry over to the large ones in the same way. Day in and day out hard decisions have to be made for the betterment of the whole. Those Doctors who are highly regarded as the experts in the field of shelter medicine know this and they also know change takes time. Why do you think the ASPCA has attached themselves to the shelter and the community? They recognize the potential that exists and it exists with those on staff. The vilifying of Dr Pizano does nothing more that distract from the work that needs to be done and keeps more people from coming into the shelter.

      • Jill

        One suggestion that has not heppened is to make two lines at the adoption destk. One for adoptions and one for rabies tags etc. When someone comes in to adopt and has to wait hours to complete the transaction, this is a turn off.
        Even rescues wait hours to take dogs and cats out.

      • silvia cherry

        Absolutely ! I couldn’t say it better myself. I have adopeted 3 dogs from this shelter. Until Dr Pizano arrived the condition ofthe anilamls was atrocious. I HATE that so many animals have to be killed but until pet owners amd potentila pet owners take responsibility and spay and neuter and better yet STOP buying”designer dogs” that often come from puppy millls we will never be able to stop the necessary evil of having to kill thousands of animals every year. Dr Pizano is doing an AMAZING job. It’s sad but true that in these tough economic times there really are people that can’t keep their beloved dogs because they lost their home.. Or even worse they can’t afford the vet bills.
        We are lucky enough to have a good income and wd have 3 dogs and one cat. Two of our dogs are from Dr Pizano’s shelter. We just had to put our oldest dog to “sleep” in December. The last year he was alive he cost us over $3,000 in vet bills, medication and euthanasia.
        As awful as it is there is no way to avoid some folks having to turn their older animals in to the shelter because they simply can’t afford the care and the end of life process. THANK GOD we have Dr Pizano! I would much rather see an animal brough to the shelter and euthanized than left abandoned in a park or on the street as I have often seen. IT TAKES GUTS AND IT’S HEARTBREAKING BUT SOMETIMES THERE IS NO OTHER CHOICE!
        Older dogs are not “adoptable” . There ios only so much room at that shelter and the facility is sadly in need of renovation. This is not priavtely funded and it si NOT a “no kill shelter”. It’s not fashinable like the private counterparts that have private donors and fancy black tie balls. This is the REAL THING and all of those protesters should put their energy into volunteering there, donating wing, walking a dog every day or writing a check and not expect to be invited to a ball or a fancy lunch whre all the donors have pedigreed dogs.
        Silvia Cherry

  • Ben S.

    People need to be responsible owners. For whatever the reason is that people don’t spay or neuter their pets, vets need to lower the fees for these procedures. Our pets depend on their owners to provide care for them. Maybe if we can lower the costs some of this killing will slow down or better stop.

    • Bj Dyson

      A smart person here

    • ana

      There are community events to spay and neuter your pets at low cost, keep your eye out for them. They have great turnouts

  • Sandy

    Its time for her to go !!!!!!!!!!!……..How do we get her fired?….Who is the one that can fire her?

  • jose

    I have an idea…why dont all you people adopt these animals…problem solved..

  • Crashmister

    A vet that refuses an owner’s request to put down an anamal assumes a huge liability. So that’s a lie! As was said the math just don’t work! So that’s a lie. I also noticed that no one is offering to take any of these anamals in order to save them. So that makes you hippocrates. In my experience, anamal right’s activists are some of the worst liars on the planet. They will say anything to push their agenda down your throat. They want to tell everyone else what THEY should do, but seldom ever get involved beyond posting on a site. Step up or Shut up!

    • G.D. Bailey

      You’re wrong. Animal Services is not required by law to kill an animal just because the owner wants them dead. In our state animals are property. Once Animal Services has posession of the animal they can do what they want with him/her. Animal Services could be that dog or cat up for adoption.

    • Rescue Shelter Pets

      your comment is full of vague words, the sign clearly stated 54 animals a day and 325 a week. The math works but you only saw what the other guy said but obviously didn’t see what the actual sign said..hmmm how convenient? A san animal Right activist myself, I have rescued many dogs and cats even snakes, but we can’t house them all because that is animal hoarding and that is animal cruelty. Let’s have some consience and don;t attack animal lovers, don’t steer away the attention away from what really matters and is that too many animals are being killed.

      P.S. Spell check before writting such an insulting comment to a group of people.

      • Sane

        The word is sane not san. But you lack character, so you point out the faults of others.

      • Rescue Shleter Pets

        I actually meant AS AN you idiot…sane doesn’t make sense in the sentence

    • fordabulls

      hey… heard of spell check… it’s hypocrites.

    • Jill

      Read the thread. There was a typo. If you are so upset about people trying to help, how about going to a chip in and sponsoring a dog instead of spewing your anger at people who try to save these poor souls. . I have already sponsored many many dogs since hearing about MDAS. Plan on sponsoring more.So do not lump all activists together. I am sure most owner surrenders are not requesting the animals be euthanized. By the way, I also have adopted 4 shelter animals.

    • Wendy Michelle Matthews

      Learn how to spell before you post. You look ignorant and uneducated.

  • tired


  • Noe Alvarez

    Stop killing animals innocent. Work hard finding ways to keep out animal’s life. USA is a rich country that need begin to use properly the trillions of dollars from taxpayers. Come on people put to work the brain. All kind of life MUST LIVE until the natural death become a true.

  • Mariela

    It is horrific that so many animals are being killed in such a cruel way… then again you see in every corner a damn puppy store? Why the hell are people buying dogs at $500 and $1000 when you can adopt a beautiful pet at the shelter for less that $150? All freaking puppy stores need to be shut down , people need to neuter their pets, and shelter need to start working with rescue groups who are willing to shelter the dogs for a long period of time until they are adopted.

    Every dog people buy, means a dog shelter will die. Get a grip people. All my dogs are rescued either from a shelter or the streets. People have this mentality that if they have a cute expensive puppy is gonna make them cute or something.

  • G.D. Bailey

    Animal Services has huge problems that are related to staff performance and Pizano’s policies and procedures. The problem with Pizano is that she refuses to make changes that will help animals. When you point out a problem to her, she responds by saying adoption rates have gone up. But that doesn’ have anything to do with the problem. In any case, adoption rates went up because of the good work of the adoption coordinator (Pizano fired her) and because rescue is taking more animals out the shelter. Pizano has a pretty face, but don’t let that fool you!

    • Mike

      “When you point out a problem to her, she responds by saying adoption rates have gone up. But that doesn’ have anything to do with the problem.”

      Wait a minute, I thought the problem was the fact that animals are being euthanized, G.D.?

      Adoption = Alive = Not Euthanized
      more adopted = more alive = fewer euthanized

      I guess that isn’t good enough for you now. I suppose now the problem is that Dr Pizano does not make sure that all animals are adopted to millionaire households where the animals eat and drink from dishes of solid gold and sleep on beds of imported silk.

  • fordabulls

    While you all are screaming at the numbers… guess WHAT.. it was a mistake originated by the Miami Herald reporter and just for your information… the animal activists DO adopt and rescue the animals… so stop accusing people when you do NOT have the facts and are just running your big mouths.

    • Sane

      Stop accusing people when you do not have the facts.

      Are you so blind to your own words !!!!

      • Mariela

        Sane, please do tell us the facts then? How many animals are being killed? Obviously you work there right? or how else would you know ?

  • Janis Farmanian

    I have a solution: put a moratorium on breeders. No more breeding while shelter animals die. 21,000 animals died in the shelter in 2010 is not acceptable. The shelter has refused to work with rescues. They deleted a website to help the animals. They use heartsticks. Many cages are empty but they still euthanize the animals. The director should be fired. Hand over the shelter to us animal activists. We will get something done

  • Betsy Graber

    Thanks for the coverage. We will be back, and even stronger. We will not stop until Pizano leaves the building. I hope Mayor Alvarez gets the message as well.

    Betsy Graber,
    Aventura, FL

    • Evelyn

      Please let us know how we can help. I agree pet owners are irresponsible with their pets. But mostly it’s ignorance. I am a huge dog lover and was not aware of what goes on at these shelters. Most people cringe at the thought of going to the shelter to pick out an animal. We need to spread awareness and word out that, these shelters are not a happy adoption place where animals are prepped for adoption. But they need are help. They need a bigger shelter. They need to take care of the animals and give them a chance at adoption. This means not killing them within a week. That is not helping the animals. In London, a friend told me they do not allow pet shops, breeders, selling of animals. All shelters help with the adoption of the animals and they do not euthanize unless the animal is terminally ill. Why can’t we follow that policy? We are a country RICH in resources and money, why can’t we follow their example??? I am posting in my FB to spread awareness. I too have recently adopted two shelter dogs. This experience opened my eyes. Thanks for your help…

  • rick

    Lets begin with the cuts this county has gone through. MDAS has suffered these repercussions as well. People give up their pets b/c they lost their jobs and have to move into non pet friendly apts, therefore adding to the population of unwanted animals. So if we want to blame someone, let’s blame the economy. In the end, no one but pet owners are to blame. SPAY AND NEUTER your pet, adopt from a shelter.

  • Evelyn

    Why can’t the older dogs be repurposed, like taken to the nursing homes to ilght up some smiles with the elderly? How about the children’s hospital? Trained to help the blind, the handicapped? Surely, these pets can serve if no one wants to adopt them. We need to start changing our attitude people, these beloved animals are God sent and who are we to take them out for no good reason? I agree people need to be more responsible and owning a dog should carry more accountability than what people do with their pets. ALL dogs should be microchipped with mandatory registration. I am so tired of hearing Oh, they are better off dead than in the street! Come one people, is the emperor naked or is he really wearing clothes??? We have become a screwed up society that accepts this euthanization of healthy animals as normal. This is a RICH country and full of resources. Positive changes can be done; I know so many people that cringe at the thought of going to a shelter because of the conditions, and they forget the whole purpose of going there is to save a life. People turn their back and walk away because it’s too uncomfortable to deal with. We need to spread awareness and get the attention of our lawmakers to ignite positive change. Then maybe we would not resort to killing man’s best friend and then console ourselves, that this was the “right” thing to do. People are smart and I’m sure we can think of other ways to place these animals, have more pet adoption fairs, make adopting “cool” and reach out to the community more. People are generally good natured but we have to make these animals more available. I agree there should be TWO lines, not one, one for adoption and one for rabies tags. I saw very little people at the shelter adopting, more were for tags. If you want to adopt a dog, you have to take a number and wait a very long time. They do not bathe, feed, treat infections, fleas/ticks or try to make these animals more adoptable. Do they need more help? Do they need more money for a bigger shelter? These are issues that need to be addressed at a higher level. But it starts with us. Please people don’t be so ignorant and tell me killing these animals is the right thing to do. Stop consoling yourself and start thinking out of the box.

  • Mary Anne Hoban

    Dr. Mengele was a Dr too.

  • Dania Madrid

    What is the ‘legal limit’ of dogs per home in incorporated Dade County? I ask this because I’ve been told that dog owners/lovers are being persecuted if they own more than four (4) dogs, even when they are kept in clean and healthy conditions. I know of many pet owners who for many years have vaccinated their dogs and cats on their (yes, they mail order the rabies vaccines and other vaccines ) and do not report ownership to the County. In today’s economy, this is taking place more and more because they can less afford the fees charged at the vet’s office or the County, PLUS they HAVE TO PAY the staggeringly increasing licensing fees. Should the County learn about these individuals, they will fine the dog owners $150.00 + per animal by the County, This is another contributing factor for the increasing number of pets being turned in at the shelter. I can appreciate that costs have gone up all around BUT, if the County wants more people to adopt then, they/it should also do their part in making this a more feasible reality. There are very good people out there who would love to adopt a dog or a cat BUT, just cannot afford to do so. Where is all the money that the County collects going to? Certainly, IT IS NOT being used wisely. If it were, they would have long ago built a better shelter — I know of contributors who have given their money for this purpose and NOTHING has come of it. Who is to blame, I don’t have a clue BUT, I know how to do the math quite well and, it does not add up. Too many parties, conferences, whatever they want to call them, where so called, “big shots” are having their bellies filled with food and drink, expense accounts, expensive cars and other expensive habits: all grandstanding, self-serving behavior such as the Pepe Diaz’ “coming to the rescue” nonsense (since this is a public site, I have to use this word) that adoption fees will be waived in order to get the animals adopted. PLEASE!!! If these commissioners had been/would be more responsible and, not be thinking of how to fatten their own pockets (yes, fatten their own pockets), they would have come up with more creative , selfless ideas to bring more money to the County–not just for the welfare of these poor animals but, for the BETTER welfare of children. The latter are also being abused and are dying at the hands of those who are supposed to care for them AND, WHO ARE BEING SUBSIDIZED by the County and State. Who’s kidding who? Everyone has a big chunk of blame here. I have 4 dogs and 5 cats and, fortunately, I can afford to pay for their vaccinations and licensing fees–I do not believe in paying for licensing fees for cats. However, because of the limit imposed by the County, I, nor anyone else living in incorporated Dade County would not be allowed to have more dogs. If I am incorrect in the “4 is the limit” for dogs in Dade County, please do educate me. If I am wrong, I would be willing to adopt more dogs, as I am sure others in my position would also do. BUT, lets start at the top: Clean out/up the bureaucracy that IS the County! The ‘commissioners’ were elected to perform a service, which they are sorely failing at and, yet, are getting paid handsomely yearly salaries. for. Part of that job should be CLOSING DOWN PUPPY MILLS; FOR SALE PUPPY STORES, and the like; as well as fining these owners hefty sums for each day that they remain in operation. If money is to be spent, use it part of it to EDUCATE the public and, assist those individuals who are willing to adopt or, who already have pets, that can prove they cannot come up with the vaccination and licensing fees, so that they can keep their animals. A little here, a little there and, believe me, the disgraceful situation, both in sanitary conditions and methods of euthanasia being imposed on scared and helpless animals, would be minimized, if not stopped. I believe that if the ‘responsible’ people at the top took the correct measures and led by example, more people would be willing to give in time and money to make this a reality. The same applies for the abused children. The public is sick and tired of seeing their “tax dollars” land in the pockets of thieves; of the County and States looking for scapegoats to blame or, simply turning a blind eye and creating imaginary situations to distract them from the real problems at hand. SO, they, too, stop caring, stop doing and stop giving. All the public ever hears are complaints and worthless AND expensive last-minute solutions, which are disgusting at best. Yes, there are serious problems here but, there are solutions if only honest desire, diligence and hard work is employed. TRUE, everyone has to cooperate since we all live here BUT, the County and State must take the lead–they hold the money strings and the key to where all that money being collected is going to.

  • Tina McNulty

    This is for those who think it is ok to kill an animal just because there is an over population. Being responsible by spaying and neutering is the smartest thing to do. Killing an animal because of over population is God’s job, not yours. How about we get rid of the damn puppy mills that are breeding hundreds of thousands of animals every year while so close to the same are being killed every year. Our pets bring us so much love and laughter every day, can you think of what your life would be without them?

  • tryecrot

    Yes there should realize the opportunity to RSS commentary, quite simply, CMS is another on the blog.

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