shelter pup

Miami-Dade County takes in about 30,000 cats and dogs each year and wants to make sure as many as possible can be cared for. They’ve found help from UF.

On Tuesday, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz sponsored a resolution that would extend the partnership between Miami-Dade County and UF’s College of Veterinary Medicine for another four years. This resolution will go into effect on June 14, said Olga Vega, Diaz’s director of communications.

This affiliation sponsored by Diaz proceeds from a resolution formed between UF and the county’s animal services in 2016, Vega said.

Diaz hopes by working with UF’s veterinary program the county will be able to provide service to more animals, Vega said.

Vega said UF was an evident choice for the partnership because the university is the state of Florida's only veterinary college.

Miami-Dade County Animal Services takes in about 500 dogs and cats per week, said Alex Munoz, the county’s director of animal services.

The animals are brought to their municipal animal shelter, where they are given necessary medical treatment, spayed or neutered and prepared for adoption, Munoz said.

The resolution says that every two weeks the shelter will get a new group of about six students who will participate in a mini-residency, Munoz said. The students will work with the shelter animals, learn hands-on medical care from shelter staff and participate in spaying and neutering surgical procedures.

“It’s a huge help to have the extra hands at the shelter,” Munoz said. “It also works out great because we get to help contribute to the development of future vets.”

As part of the program, Miami-Dade County pays the university $120,958 annually.

UF College of Veterinary Medicine Interim Dean and Executive Associate Dean Tom Vickroy said the money is used to help house the students when they are working at the shelter and helps pay the salary of a permanent staff member the college hired at the shelter to act as a liason.

He went on to say the program has gone a long way to helping the college achieve its mission of teaching and training students for their future careers in the field.

The college is excited to continue its relationship with the shelter, he said.

“It’s a wonderful program,” Vickroy said. “All the students who go really enjoy it.”