Sara Pizano, Hounded by Animal Rights Activists, Resigns as Animal Services Director
The heads keep fallin' in Miami-Dade.
Never mind that Animal Services Director Sara Pizano technically resigned yesterday. Animal rights activists have been after her for so long that they'll feel they earned the scalp one way or another. But Pizano didn't leave without a parting shot at her critics.
"Always remember that the public can create a negative perception with a very small percent of the information they need to understand an issue," she told The Miami Herald.
Ah, yes. The ol' blame-it-on-public-ignorance strategy mixed with a bit of jedi mind trick: These are not the euthanized animals you were looking for.
In the Herald interview, Pizano denied being forced out. But her fur-loving foes are already claiming otherwise. "It's official! The embattled Miami-Dade Animal Services Director Dr. Sarah Pizano was allegedly asked to resign," wrote an administrator for No Kill Nation on the group's Facebook page.
"This is a dream scenario not only for the people of this county but the obvious; our sheltered companion animals. Dr. Pizano, according to her own records was the trigger-puller for over 115,000 animal deaths within the past 5 years," the post continued. "We would like to say we are sorry to see you go Dr. P but...not!"
When Pizano took charge of Animal Services in 2005, she faced a tough task. As New Times reported shortly thereafter, the shelter had become a concentration camp for sick and unwanted animals:
According to the report, which was commissioned by the county, between May and April of 2004, 103 animals died inside their cages at the shelter through the spread of communicable diseases. (The shelter houses an average of at least 2000 animals a month.) None was given comfort items such as toys, soft bedding, or hiding spaces. Cats were not provided with litter boxes and were forced to urinate and defecate on newspaper inside their small cages. Some cages were constantly filled with animal waste because staff could not keep up with cleaning them. Dogs tethered to short leashes were choking themselves. The report concluded that the problems in the animal shelter would take months, even years, to correct.
But Pizano's appointment seemed to make things worse. Critics claimed that euthanisia went up under her watch, and six months into her tenure she was already receiving bomb threats. Angry employees even slashed the office's screens.
Things didn't get much better. There was debate over whether Pizano's department used a "heart stick" -- a long needle that injects fatal drugs directly into a feline's heart.
Then this March animal rights activists -- including Natacha Seijas opponent Vanessa Brito -- launched a campaign to "recall" Pizano. The final straw may have been the disease outbreak that closed much of the shelter only a week later.
The county has already approved plans for a new shelter to be built in Doral, but Pizano won't be part of the move.