On Tuesday, by a stroke of luck, a good Samaritan encountered three tiny kittens in a box leaning against a garbage can, covered in trash and litter, in the North Beach neighborhood of Normandy Isle.
The kittens, thought to be European Shorthairs, were taken to the nearby Pets & Vets Animal Clinic. No one is sure how long they were left there.
"There’s no reason for people to do this," Ruth Prado, who works for the clinic, tells New Times. "And in this case, there’s a possibility that whoever brought the kittens left the mother behind without being fixed, and in a few months she's going to have more."
Prado helped care for the felines and reports that they're in good spirits and health.
The white-and-gray one, whom the staff dubbed Quesadilla, has been adopted; the two tabbies, Burrito and Taco, will be fostered until they are permanently adopted.
Prado is a member of the Animal Control Advisory Board for North Bay Village and volunteers her time trapping feral and stray cats, then vaccinating and neutering them before returning them to the outdoors. It's part of a Miami-Dade County program known as Trap-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return or TNVR.
During COVID-19 lockdowns, many spay-and-neuter clinics had to cease operations, and as a result cat populations ballooned, escalating tensions among residents and strays.
This is at least the second incident in less than a month in which kittens in Miami Beach have been the apparent targets of violent crime or deliberate neglect.
Three weeks ago, a kitten was found dead in the area of 15th Street and Euclid Avenue near a communal feeding area. An ominous note was taped onto the calico: "FEEDING THE CATS IS PROHIBITED IN THIS PROPERTY!!! CAMERAS ARE ALWAYS RECORDING! THIS IS A PRIVATE PROPERTY. DO NOT FEED THE CATS!!!!"
In Florida, a conviction for animal cruelty is punishable with a fine of up to $10,000 and five years in prison, according to the statute, depending on the circumstances.
Prado couldn't help but think of the ill-fated kitten in South Beach and what might have happened had someone not discovered Burrito, Taco, and Quesadilla in time.
"Another animal could have come in and [harmed] them, or a garbage truck could have not noticed them and they would've been killed," she says. "I just want people to be aware of the cruelty. There are other options besides throwing them in the garbage. They could've taken them to the Humane Society or posted around."
"My view on this?" Prado adds. "Today it's an animal — tomorrow it could be a human being."