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Miami: Not So Animal Friendly

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Last week, I nearly stopped breathing when I took my cat, Luna, to the vet and the receptionist told me the bill.

“$340,” she said, casually.

I sighed inwardly and pulled out the plastic. You do what you gotta do for your pets. Later that night – not having learned my lesson about taking on additional animals -- I tried to rescue a gray bunny that was foraging in the garbage and also fed a wayward kitten in the backyard. I never caught the bunny. The kitten is still hanging around, eating my food. I’m trying to give it away – any takers? – because I can’t commit to another animal.

Miami is a tough place for animals. I see them wandering in traffic, abandoned, or dead on the side of the road. People aren’t particularly good about spaying and neutering, either, by the looks of all the kittens romping in my neighborhood.

I wasn’t really aware of how bad the area is for animals until I read a recently released report from the Humane Society. Here’s the good news: the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area has more bird-watchers than bird-shooters, according to the Humane Society of the United States. And our corner of the planet is particularly interested in boycotting seal hunts.

But overall, Miami ranked pretty low -- 20 out of 25 -- in the Humane Society’s first-ever attempt at “determining the overall humaneness” of America’s largest metro areas. The survey looked at twelve different animal welfare issues, from the number of “captive animal entertainers” (54, which is a lot) to the number of “available locations with cage free eggs.” (Three, which isn’t.)

Two main areas of criticism revolved around dogs. There are a lot of greyhound tracks in the area and a number of stores that sell puppies, which creates a demand for the dreaded puppy mills.

Miami is also home to the Seaquarium, where Lolita, a solitary orca, floats around in a tiny tank. We also had a dearth of vegetarian/vegan restaurants in the area (no news there) and an inordinate number of visits from the Ringling Circus. Puzzlingly, we also have 22 fur retailers in the area.

Think about that for a second as the humidity ratchets up a notch. Fur. In. Miami. --Tamara Lush

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