This week, something remarkable happened for surrendered and abandoned companion animals. The commission in Miami-Dade County in Florida approved a shelter animal plan which is nothing short of revolutionary. With the new plan, up to 20 million dollars could be raised annually to cover costs associated with widely offered spaying and neutering services, public education on responsible companion animal care, and additional veterinary services for shelter animals. The result? The new plan could save 20,000 lives and make the county shelter very low or even no-kill. The goal is to increase the “save rate” to 90% and to drastically reduce the number of animals who end up in the shelter in the first place.

The coolest part of this program? It was voted on by the taxpayers, who voluntarily agreed to an increase in property tax in order to fund this innovative plan. The citizens of Miami-Dade, despite all of the economic woes of the past few years, chose to put lives first – they made their choice clear at the ballot box with a 65% “yes” vote.

If this plan meets hopes and expectations, it could be a new model for cash-strapped cities and towns who very much want to save lives but feel they have run out of option. As it becomes refined over time, it could serve as a good example for other municipalities to follow. Hopefully, people in other cities and towns have the same will and desire as the people of Miami-Dade to put animals first and to be willing to invest a few additional dollars to save a lot of lives.

It is a great day for humane leadership – and this time, it was the people themselves who took the lead.

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