Scrutiny Into Excessive Killing in Two Broward County Animal Shelters

by Denise Carey-Costa

Facebook page “A Promise to Layla” has been very vocal regarding the recent “goings on” at the Humane Society of Broward County.  A post in June 2017 stated the Humane Society of Broward County kills more dogs as “owner requested euthanasia” than the number of dogs surrendered by their owners. According to statistics uncovered by A Promise to Layla, over 4,000 cats and dogs have been killed at the Humane Society of Broward County from Aug 2016 through July 2017. Nearly 100,000 cats and dogs have been killed under current leadership. Yet, in direct contradiction to the mass killings, Broward County Humane Society imported 1,942 dogs from outside Florida to the shelter.

A debate has been scheduled to dispute the “owner request killings” as well as other concerns regarding the shelter operation.  It will be held on October 26, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at Florida Atlantic University in the Liberal Arts Auditorium, 3200 College Avenue, Davie, Florida 33314.

The debate will also feature special guest speaker Phil Peckinpaugh, Director of the Muncie Animal Care Services in Muncie, Indiana. He has successfully transformed his shelter from a 50% live release rate to 95% for dogs and 97% cats.  This is phenomenal and proves it can be done if the will, motivation and caring for the animals is there.

For more information on the debate or to RSVP please visit the website

petition has also been launched requesting the immediate resignation of CEO Christopher Agostino of the Humane Society of Broward County, and a suitable replacement be hired.

Broward County’s municipal shelter has been under scrutiny in recent weeks as well.

On November 15, 2016, Broward County Animal Care and Adoption opened a brand new 40,000 square foot shelter with space to house 500 cats and dogs. According to then Executive Director Thomas Adair, this was the first step in achieving the long-term goal of becoming a no-kill shelter. But things have gone awry since the $16.5 million facility opened. Allegations of inhumane conditions, wrongful killings of healthy shelter animals and altering of records have caused Executive Director Thomas Adair to resign his position.

According to a story in the Sun Sentinel on October 22, the kennel drain grates in the dog kennels are ripping off their nails leaving them bleeding and in pain. No one knows exactly how many dogs were hurt because the injuries are not tracked. However, information obtained through public records, indicate this problem goes back to the shelter opening, yet nothing had been done to correct it.

Shelter spokesperson Lisa Mendheim stated the problem was fixed months ago, however a recent visit to the facility has confirmed the dangerous grates are still in place, and Mendheim’s supervisors gave contradictory information saying the grates have not been replaced. However, an even greater injustice has been inflicted upon the animals of Broward County; the killing of healthy pets under the guise of “owner request” and altering the records to reflect this.

According to a September 25,  WPLG-channel 10 news report, Broward Animal Care Executive Director Thomas Adair resigned his position. The resignation came after allegations that he and other county employees changed dog and cat death records to appear as if the owners wanted their pets euthanized when they really wanted them to be adopted out. However, Channel 10 News uncovered evidence that Adair was going into the county computer system altering the reason for killing the dogs and cats from health issues or aggressiveness to “owner requested.”

Animals put down at the owner’s request are not included in the euthanasia totals, so altering the records would promote the county’s much publicized promise of becoming a no-kill shelter.

One of the strongest pieces of evidence against Adair shows that whenever public records requests were received, Adair would go back into the county’s computer system and change the records for a second time; from owner request to the original reason given. Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief confirmed an active investigation into the animal death records for the past five years has already confirmed records were changed at the shelter although no motive has been determined.

It is truly a tragedy and a huge miscarriage of justice when animals go to what should be a safe haven for them, and they are killed under false pretense to skew statistics and make those in charge look good.

It is time to replace highly paid shelter supervisors, managers, and CEO’s with people who actually care about the welfare of animals in their care.

“Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things, man will not himself find peace.” – Albert Schweitzer

*This story first appeared in Pet Rescue Report and is reposted here with the author’s permission.

About the Author

Denise Carey-Costa is a screenwriter, journalist, author, and award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her most recent work includes the role of screenwriter and associate producer for the Hallmark channel’s upcoming feature film Keeping Christmas (Christmas 2017). She was awarded the Best Producer Award from the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards for her latest documentary Growing up with Hollywood (January 2016). Her first documentary film Tony’s Tale, Tragedy in Arizona (August 2014) was the winner of eight national film festival awards including several Audience Choice Awards. She has also written numerous children’s books promoting kindness and compassion for all creatures. Among her children’s books are: A Tale of Three Tails, Edwin’s Flight, Lucky, and Angelina’s Angel, and her non-fiction piece, Tony’s Tale Tragedy in Arizona.  She lives in Orlando, Florida, where she works with local rescue shelters. 

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