MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Our weekly Miami Proud reports are now focusing on those on the front lines of the coronavirus battle, in their own words.
Sean Gallagher has dedicated most his life to helping our community’s homeless pets. He started his tenure with Miami-Dade County Animal Services Department more than 25 years ago and worked his way up to Enforcement Supervisor.
As part of the HART (Humane Animal Response Team), he manages 26 dedicated frontline staff made up of 17 animal welfare officers, 6 anti cruelty investigators, and 3 animal welfare aides.
Despite the ongoing challenges associated with COVID-19, the team continues to serve the community by protecting the safety and health of our residents and animals, handling emergency field response involving vicious animals, police requests for assistance, animal bites, injured animals and animal cruelty concerns.
But most importantly, educating the public about the responsibilities of pet ownership, and assisting during difficult times by providing resources to help our pets stay with loving pet owners as life-long companions and valued members of their families.
Here is his reflection of how his work has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic during a recent question and answer session while sitting alongside his best friend, Peanut, a dog he adopted from Animal Services.
Q: Tell us about Peanut.
A: This dog is Peanut, she’s mine. I adopted her from Animal Services approximately four years ago and she brings a lot of joy to my life.
Q: What is it that most people do not know about Animal Services?
A: We are not just about enforcement. Our main goal is to educate animal owners as to what is required to properly maintain a pet.
Q: How is Animal Services helping pet owners who are financially challenged?
A: Fortunately, due to grants we have the ability to buy dog houses and kennels and provide medical treatment for their animals. It is really nice when we respond to a call and we find that the individual really loves their pet, but they might not have the ability to buy a doghouse, they may not have the ability to provide the proper attention, and were able to assist them in that process.
Q: Tell us what has changed because of COVID-19?
A: Due to the pandemic every time we go to residence where a person has been transferred to the hospital, or has died in the residence, we have to treat it as a possible COVID-19 risk exposure. We have to be suited up put on our PPE and sometimes it’s difficult because when you’re walking in there you’re not walking in there as what looks like a human being, you have these giant white suits on, these respirators, it sometimes it can scare the animals or make it more difficult.
Q: What is the bright spot in this challenging time?
A: What makes my day is what I see the number of people that are fostering animals and I’m hoping that once this pandemic eases more that these individuals become attached to these animals and want to adopt them. I think they’re going to become attached. When you’re spending so much time with the animals that you foster, that it’s going to happen.
Click here for more information about Miami-Dade Animal Services and learn more about how you can foster or adopt a pet.