Miami-Dade County Proposes Drastic Changes for Animal Owners

The Miami-Dade County Commission will be holding a public hearing at 9:30am on Tuesday, December...

The Miami-Dade County Commission will be holding a public hearing at 9:30am on Tuesday, December 18th to discuss a variety of changes to the animal control ordinance including limiting the number of pets a resident may own, implementing hobby breeder licensing, requiring mandatory microchipping for dog breeders and restricting rescue organizations. Concerned dog owners and breeders are asked to attend and speak against these proposed changes. If you are unable to attend, please send an email to the county commissioners or call their offices. As always, please be polite and respectful.

Summary of the Proposed Changes:

  • Zoning Changes and Pet Limits:
     
    • The revised ordinance will limit the number of dogs a resident may own based on the size of the property. If you own more than the allowed number, you will be considered a kennel and a public hearing will be held to decide if you may keep your animals. Additionally, you will be required to allow animal control to inspect your premises and must meet specified kennel standards.
       
    • These thresholds are arbitrary and do not take in to account the reproductive capability of the animals. A resident could be deemed a kennel even if none of the animals are capable of reproducing or are ever used for breeding! There does NOT appear to be a clause to protect those residents who already own more than the allowed number.
       
      • If the property is less than one acre, a resident may have no more than 4 dogs.
         
      • If the property is less than two acres, a resident may have no more than 6 dogs.
         
      • If the property is two acres or more, a resident may own up to eight dogs.
         
  • Hobby Breeder License:
     
    • The county currently allows a lifetime license, but under the new proposal this would be an annual license. Additionally, the fee for the license is not specified in the ordinance and could easily be very expensive, placing an unreasonable burden on local, responsible breeders. State law provides a definition of pet dealer, which is the same as the one used in this ordinance. There is no compelling reason to spend resources and taxpayer money to license breeders who fall below that threshold.
       
  • Pet Dealer and Kennel Inspections:
     
    • The new ordinance would require anyone who qualifies as a "pet dealer" (anyone who sells more than 20 dogs or 2 litters in one year, whichever is greater) or who requires a kennel license (anyone who exceeds the thresholds set above) to be inspected by animal control. The fees for these licenses are not specified within the ordinance, but due to the expense to animal control to conduct these inspections, it is reasonable to assume they would be very expensive.
       
    • The standards set for kennels are designed for commercial enterprises, but may not be reasonable or workable for someone who simply owns 5 animals or who breeds perhaps 3 litters a year in their home.
       
    • Additionally, these same standards do not apply to city or county facilities. If they are for the health and safety of the animals, then they should apply consistently to all facilities.
       
  • Breeders Must Microchip:
     
    • The new ordinance would require that all animals sold be implanted with a microchip and provide that information to animal control. Many animals will be sold to new owners outside the county, therefore this provision creates an unnecessary financial burden for both breeders and animal services who must develop and administer a program to track this information. Animal control is not required to microchip animals that they place.
       
    • As part of our ongoing efforts to promote responsible dog ownership, the AKC encourages dog owners to properly identify their pets. We believe, however, that the final decision about identification—whether by collar, tattoo or microchip—should be made by the owner, not the government.
       
  • Rescues:
     
    • If adopted, the new ordinance would allow shelters to release animals only to animal rescues registered as a 501 (c)(3) in Florida. This will deprive the county of being able to use many breed and club rescues that for tax filing purposes have not elected to become 501(c)(3)s. This will mean fewer animals are fostered and placed, leading to more euthanizations.
       
  • Tethering:
     
    • The new ordinance would make it illegal to tether a dog outside unless the dog can be supervised by the responsible party and limits tethering to three hours.
       
  • Additional Requirements:
     
    • Would hold landlords responsible for the actions of any animal maintained on premises they own. Fewer property owners will be willing to rent to animal owners, potentially increasing shelter populations.
       
    • License fees for intact and sterilized animals are not specified within the ordinance, so there is no way to judge if these will be reasonable. Residents are best served by having license fees set in the ordinance itself and then having the county commission adjust them when necessary.

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO: