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MIAMI (CBS4) – Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has named a new Director of Animal Services after the often controversial Dr. Sara Pizano stepped down Thursday.

In a county memorandum, Mayor Gimenez appointed Alex Munoz to head the department.

Dr. Pizano has been the Director of Animal Services since 2005. She says the state of the shelter has worsened due to the recession.

“Once you have an overcrowded shelter you have a receipt for disaster,” said Pizano to CBS4’s David Sutta.  “Now I want to focus on more proactive programs and keeping animals out of shelters.”

Munoz has worked as a county administrator since 1992, and has served as the Assistant County Manager for Animal Services.

He most recently worked as Deputy Director of the county Parks and Recreation Department. He says his goal is to get better in tuned with what the community wants.

“We are going to sit down and talk.  It’s funny, at the end of the day we are going to have the same exact mission:  Everybody wants to save more animals,” said Munoz. “That’s what I want to do and that’s what they want to do.”

Dr. Pizano is stepping down after several headline making controversies.

In 2005, Dr. Pizano admitted that mistakes had been made in the euthanasia of a golden retriever named Cowboy. Cowboy had gone missing following a storm, and was picked up by Animal Services. Since Cowboy had a microchip,  Animal Services contacted his owner Anays Rodriguez-Porras, but before she could pick Cowboy up, the dog was euthanized.

Rodriguez-Porras sued the county for gross negligence. In 2011, a jury found both the county and Rodriguez-Porras responsible, because it took her two days to pick up Cowboy after being notified.

Pizano also came under fire from animal rights activists after her employees allegedly used the so-called “heart stick” method to euthanize two cats, as reported by CBS4 News partner The Miami Herald.

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

In March of this year, Dr. Pizano again took heat from animal lovers after the main shelter suffered a major distemper outbreak.

Hundreds of animal lovers and rescues rushed to the shelter to adopt the dogs after Dr. Pizano mentioned that the ones that could not be placed in homes would be humanely euthanized.

“Eventually (the animals) would be euthanized but there wont be any large-scale euthanasia today,” said Dr. Pizano in March, after the outbreak was revealed. “Were sending animals home when people want them.”

When reached by CBS4, Dr. Pizano says the resignation is something she has been thinking about for a while, and denies being forced to resign.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)

Comments (6)
  1. Phyliss Myers says:

    It is about time. Perhaps now those whose voices cannot be heard will be given the treatment they deserve. Let us hope that the new director will realize that death is not the answer, life is.

  2. JakeRego says:

    Amen, Phyliss
    Just had to hope any change would be a positive change in that place.Kudos to all those who raised up their collective voices against the so called humane activities in that pet dungeon

  3. Cira says:

    MDAS needs a STRONG, COMPASSIONATE Director which has more interest in saving the lives of so many homess pets rather than on their hefty paycheck. Let’s hope someone caring, and strong enough to fight for the right of the homeless/sick pets will be chosen as the new Director.

  4. janet says:

    Perhaps you critics should place the blame where it rightfully belongs; the idiots living in Miami-Dade who either have no clue how to care for animals or just don’t give a damn. I’m betting that if any of you took the job as director of MDAS you would be over-whelmed within a week and you would finally understand the futility of trying to care for all these animals. Actually maybe you should spend some time “walking in her shoes”.

    1. Gielles says:

      It is a conglomeration of ignorance, stupidity, AND poor management. When you have rescues and the general public wanting to adopt certain animals, but they don’t give enough time….that is stupid and lazy. Attempting to spay already neutered dogs or cats MORONIC! Also, heart sticking 30 cats is completely UNACCEPTABLE and not the ignorant public’s fault. I wouldn’t want to walk in her shoes, she is a less than mediocre veterinarian. She blames the recession, well if she wanted to help, she could have used some of her $113,000 year salary. Let the people who really knew what was going on do their job, and stop defending that idiot.

      1. Truth says:

        Do you know any of this from first hand knowledge, or just what you’ve heard from people who heard from others who were told… Pizano took a department that had been neglected and mismanaged while under Miami-Dade police and used the resources she had to improve it. It needs far more resources that Miami-Dade taxpayers will provide. Salaries are kept low, staff is inexperienced, and the flood of animals nobody wants never stops. Maybe one of you rescue groups out there might volunteer to take this over. No kill, taking any animal people bring in, plus handle the field work…on what the county will budget.It’s easy to be critical, but hard to do the job. Any of you have the stones to volunteer? BTW, before someone jumps in, every animal I have, or have ever had over 30 years save one, has been a shelter rescue.

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