Michael Rosenberg is spending this weekend sitting in a cage at Miami-Dade Animal Services in Florida after being dropped off like a cat or dog might be. He is there for 2 nights and 3 days to raise awareness and gather support for an initiative to increase funding for the area’s stray and unwanted cats and dogs, and to promote a special adoption drive.
“My plan is to stay in that cage for the weekend to bring community awareness for The Pets’ Trust, and also to have every single animal adopted that weekend,” he said. “When I leave on Sunday night, I want to be the only living thing in that shelter. I want every animal out of that place. This, hopefully, will be the greatest adoption event ever.”
Michael is the founder of The Miami Pets Trust, a group working to establish an increased animal services funding plan along the lines of the Children’s Trust, which adds a negligible amount to residents’ tax bills for a worthy program.
The Pets Trust grew from Michael’s own tragic experience with last year’s deadly panleukopenia or “cat plague” outbreak at Miami-Dade that took dozens of lives. Michael adopted a 6 week old little kitten name Wren, or to hear him tell it, she adopted him, a year ago. With Wren settled on his couch, Michael thought she was going to enjoy15 years in her new home. That was not to be; Wren died just days after her adoption. “I started noticing that she was slowing down, couldn’t jump on the couch, didn’t want to eat, and when I walked in, she was dead on the floor,” Michael said in a channel 10 interview broadcast on October 12, 2011.
Miami-Dade confirmed that Wren was one of a small litter of kittens who brought panleukopenia to the shelter with them. 14 more cats tested positive and 72 cats under the age of 6 months were put down. The facility’s other cats were quarantined at another location, and 4 of them were euthanized after showing that they’d contracted the virus. The outbreak was widespread outside of the shelter, in Miami-Dade and neighboring counties.
The cats had not been vaccinated upon entry into the animal services facility, a simple step that would have prevented the outbreak from costing lives and becoming a bad situation for the shelter.
It was Wren’s death and the deadly disease outbreak that caused Michael to look for a way to improve the lives of animals coming to the shelter, and to to help animal services staff in their efforts to help the animals. He got the idea for the Pets Trust initiative. Pets Trust Miami managed got a pet-friendly question in the November 6 ballot of the Miami-Dade Comission. The proposal provides for property tax financing of spay/neuter clinics. Property owners would pay $10 on a $100,000 property.
Michael’s weekend in a cage has garnered a lot of publicity so far. Hopefully, it will get a lot of animals adopted and get support for the ballot item.
Michael described his idea for a pets trust in Miami at a Change.org petition: The animal rescue groups and animal advocates of Miami, in an effort to improve the lives of animals in Miami-Dade County, have joined together, for the first time ever, to create a dedicated source of funding, we refer to as the “Pets Trust”. This is modeled after the Children’s Trust which collects its funding from the property tax bills of citizens of Miami-Dade County for the past ten years. The average tax bill in Miami-Dade County will increase approximately $ 13.00 a year if the Pets Trust is created. The Children’s Trust was approved by 88% of our citizens and we are petitioning our community leaders to allow our citizens to vote in similar fashion on a Pets Trust.
Update from Michael, made Friday, October 5. I’ve been in the cage for about 5 hours now. There seems to be so much optimism from people that are hearing about this that I am even more convinced than ever that I will make it all the way to the end. Here I am in my cage, it’s not that great, but I have lovely neighbors. Please stop by the shelter this weekend and adopt and animal for $25 or make a donation to the Pets Trust Miami at petsvoice.org.
This morning, Michael said that some of the dogs barked all night he was glad to welcome the new day. Michael is giving updates on his experience in the cage at the shelter at The Pets Trust Facebook page.
Pets’ Trust Miami is a citizens’ initiative to improve animal welfare, increase adoptions and decrease overpopulation by providing free and low-cost spay/neuter, low-cost veterinary care and educational programs. Miami-Dade County Animal Services receives up to 37,000 dogs and cats each year and on average 20,000 of these adoptable animals are killed. More than 400,000 stray cats live on our streets. Pets’ Trust Miami supports ballot #240, which proposes to address these issue with proven solutions. www.petstrustmiami.com