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County Pets Get the Treatment PDF Print E-mail
Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor   
July 2020

A beautiful veterinary clinic opens in Liberty City

OPix_PetTalk_7-20ver the past decade, Miami-Dade County has discussed the need for pet spay and neuter clinics in its underserved neighborhoods (see “Animal House 2.0,” September 2016).

One such underserved area in Miami is Liberty City. It has been woefully lacking in veterinary and pet supply services, and is a neighborhood of economic need. Alex Muñoz, director of Miami-Dade Animal Services, has called it “a veterinary desert, with little access to care for residents’ pets.”

But on October 28, 2019, a beautiful pet facility in Liberty City celebrated its grand opening. The new ASPCA Community Veterinary Center at 1320 NW 62nd St. is a 6074-square-foot hospital that features four primary pet care exam rooms, four spay and neuter rooms, and two surgical suites for county dogs and cats.

According to Sandra Halaby-Soyer, director of the ASPCA Community Veterinary Center, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and Miami-Dade County joined forces to fund the facility’s construction. “Now that the center is open, the ASPCA is managing and operating [it],” she says. “Currently, we have seven staff members, and as we assess opportunities for our center’s expansion, we anticipate hiring additional staff members.”

Halaby-Soyer also points out that although it brings affordable and accessible services to Liberty City residents, the new center is there to serve all Miami-Dade County pet owners.

The Veterinary Center is the result of efforts put in motion by the ASPCA under its Miami Initiative umbrella and in partnership with Miami-Dade County and Miami-Dade Animal Services. Companion animals are offered partially and fully subsidized basic and preventive care services, among them spay and neuter surgeries, vaccinations, flea and heartworm prevention, and treatment for non-serious conditions. When they are needed, examinations to determine quality of life and humane euthanasia are also provided.

At the center’s opening, ASPCA president and CEO Matt Bershadker noted the importance of such a community pet care facility. “Making veterinary services both accessible and affordable is key to keeping pets healthy and safe in their homes,” he said. “[This center] will play a vital role in preserving the loving and dependent bonds between Liberty City residents and their animals.”

Halaby-Soyer tells the BT that as of June 9, 2020, the ASPCA Community Veterinary Center in Liberty City has cared for 1120 dogs and 260 cats since its opening.

Another essential part of the Miami Initiative is the ASPCA’s Miami Community Engagement Program, which brings important pet-related resources to Liberty City. Susan Cardoso is its director and informs the BT that pet supplies, kennel crates, and doghouses are made available by the program to pet owners in the community.

“Pets belong with people who love and care for them,” she says, “so we create and support community engagement programs, including access to affordable pet services and resources, to help low-income pet owners in underserved communities nationwide.”

The engagement team has created a pet food bank in Liberty City by partnering with Farm Share, a non-profit food distribution program better known for its work with human food pantries.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when the need was at its greatest, the ASPCA launched this regional food distribution program, which has offered free pet food to families.

“Since late March of this year, the ASPCA has provided food for more than 160,000 dogs, cats, and horses through distribution centers and curbside deliveries in several U.S. cities,” reports Halaby-Soyer.

This food program will begin a transition starting in July, with details to be determined.

The pandemic has caused the Veterinary Center to shift some of its services, but according to Halaby-Soyer, the ASPCA continues to provide the same level of care for vulnerable animals and is committed to keeping pets and their families together by helping shelters and pet owners access the resources and information they need during the COVID-19 crisis. The center is closely following city and county guidelines and safety protocols, but she says, “We do not have a specific timeline for returning to normal operations.”

As of June 8, the center was continuing to temporarily suspend most preventative services, such as vaccinations, deworming, heartworm tests, feline blood screenings, microchipping, and the sale of pet licenses. The center is open and currently only seeing pets that are sick or in serious need of medical assistance or euthanasia.

To help Miami-Dade County residents during COVID-19, all vet care services are being waived by the ASPCA.

Services remain by appointment only, from Tuesday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Call 844-MY-ASPCA; or go online to: aspca.org/miami.

The ASPCA is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit corporation founded in 1866 and is considered the first animal welfare organization in North America.

 

Janet Goodman is a Miami Shores-based dog trainer and principal of Good Dog Bad Dog Inc. Contact her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

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