Thank You Fearless Followers!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Dog owners in Miami Dade County Beware!

WARNING: This is not an inspirational piece! However, I had to write it anyway. My blog includes the words "seeking courage" too, so I think it is quite appropriate that I involve myself in a little community activism.

According to personnel at the Animal Services division of Miami Dade County and the (311) county information services, Miami Dade County WILL NO LONGER provide written warning or dog tag renewal notices to dog owners. What does this mean? Quiet simply, if you do not remember to renew your dog's tag, you will pay the county $160.oo or more depending on the violation and how many dogs you own. "Irresponsible and law breaking" dog owners will no longer receive the courtesy of "fair warning" as they do with other county laws and responsibilities.

Code section 5-8 reference 953 of the Miami Dade County Code (read Chapter 5, article 2, section 5-8, no mention of the change here)allows the county to issue violation notices requiring payment of $150.00 with a surcharge of $10.00 which is pursuant to County Ordinance 99-55. In addition, the county will place a lien on your property for the amount of the violation.
You WILL receive a notice of expiration and renewal for your car's tag, your driver's license and your property taxes, but do not expect the same courtesy when it comes to your beloved dog. Please tell everyone you love and know of this upcoming policy.

The state of Florida is in crisis! Hungry for tax dollars county, city and state officials find themselves scrambling for alternatives.
Governor Charlie Crist has held a firm position on NOT raising property taxes and instead has lobbied along with other city and county commissioners to lower our property taxes. However, the city and county governments claim to be suffering and so must find the revenue somewhere. The Miami Dade County commission therefore approved an ordinance that would not only set a high penalty for dog owners who fail to renew dog tags on time but would almost certainly guarantee a steady flow of income for the county. How many violation notices has the county sent out already this year? How much revenue has the county collected? Better yet, how much will they collect next year when warning notices cease for every single person in the county?

Several staff members at 311, an information service offered by the county, and personnel at Animal Services informed me during the week of April 21, 2008 that "it" was the law and that there was nothing they could do. My thoughts were "it may be the law but that does not make it right."

Now, you may ask why am I so worked up about this? I fell victim to this ordinance when I failed to act responsibly and renew my dog's tag prior to its expiration date. So, yes I paid $160.00 for failing to know that it had expired. You see I failed to post a note on my refrigerator door to remind me. I failed to "assume" that the county would send me a notice. I failed to remember where I live, for this is definitely not anything like Kansas. Shame on me! I am one of those "fools" who needs a little reminder in the mail before my car tag, property taxes and driver's license expires. Any "fools" out there like me? Do any of you expect your city and county governments to notify you of such renewals? Should we all just stop expecting common courtesy because the "law" is not required to be courteous? Help me here, for I am a bit lost. Who does the government serve? Oh, I remember...the people!

In the next few weeks I will write letters, make phone calls and maybe even manage to sit face to face with one of those individuals who signed this "ordinance" into law without regard for his or her constituents. That's fine, for I have the time to "waste." But what will all those older folks who have two or three dogs do when they receive a bill from the county of $320.00-480.00? The violation notice will state that they can appeal, but if they read further it will also state that if they lose their appeal they will be charged court costs in addition to the violation amount. If these folks have a car, and I do mean if, and can drive down to Homestead, Florida and spend the day in court because they don't work and are living on a small retirement and they expect to win their case, then I guess this "activity" will all be worth it for them. I just wonder what will happen to the ones who don't have a car, don't have the money or lack the wisdom to ask questions or who remain oblivious to the news and don't get a chance to read my blog. How many people will tap into their psychic abilities and just "know" what to do? Who will fall victim to this "penalty" without warning? The rich and informed? Or the poor and ill informed citizens of this county?

I am all for personal responsibility, and know life is NOT fair and therefore don't expect it to be; however, knowing what I know now, my silence in this matter would only make me a culprit to a poorly thought out ordinance.

In an attempt to compensate for the loss of revenues in one area, I suppose the county has found another way to milk the citizens since our property taxes are just not high enough. We all need to go out and find second and third jobs to pay more in property taxes so that every one can be happy and satisfied. Homeowners who own modest homes "only" pay $5,000-$10,000 in property tax a year; that is if they are one of the lucky ones. Since our property taxes are "so low" I propose the county double them, so they can then build the Marlins baseball team a new stadium overlooking the bay. Any money left over should then be used to build the team their own training facility nearby complete with swimming pool, sauna, massage room and high tech exercise equipment so they can go out and win the World Series.

When I am disappointed or frustrated, I write. My indignation surpasses what my words can possibly express, and I know my words may accomplish nothing but aggravate a few "important" people in my community. Once again, my beliefs have been confirmed. If you do not educate yourself, you have no power and you are slave to the ones with the power. An ignorant population is always more easily controlled and manipulated by malignant intentions disguised as law.


  1. I can understand your frustration..I too depend on the reminder in the mail.
    Unless this lack of notification gets rectified, you would probably do well to try to make note of associating dog licensing with 'tax time'. At least in my neck of the woods, both occur almost simultaneously.
    I wish you well in your endeavor to try to change things back to how they were..but don't drive yourself crazy.. (you know what they say about fighting City Hall.)
    Try to have a great day anyway :)

  2. I too understand your frustration. Here where I live in GA, I've heard a new law they are trying to pass that will prohibit obtaining a "move permit" for mobile homes older than 15 years. I understand the desire to eliminate the older mobile homes, but to not allow people to get a move permit is not fair to those who own trailers they've taken care of. They won't be able to sell or give them away because they won't be able to be moved. It's like taking away what they own by telling them it is worthless. Not fair. But they are trying to up their property tax base.

  3. It takes courage to publish your belifs and you have done so beautifully! And I do think that there are times you must fight city hall and that there are times you will win.

  4. Well, I'm no lawyer, but, if you state that the county will "No longer provide written warning" that means that up until the current pet law changes that were in effect until this past week...they were beholden to notify us by written warning. If they did not, then it seems that you can legally challenge their now wanting to "punish" your lack of complying with the rules, when in fact they did not comply with the notification requirements. And all this just because they're hungry for funds.

    Despite many people probably saying "it's not the animals fault" this aggressive and greedy behavior as so clearly demonstrated by MDC Animal Services is serving only (at least in my case) for me to absolutely REFUSE to EVER again consider adopting a dog from MDC. I will not be held hostage to their mandates of them clearly wanting to gouge me for money, and then have them crying crocodile tears in begging me to adopt a pet...because the alternative is "just to HORRIBLE to imagine". Well, imagine this...the $300+ that you are bullying away from me, is the last money/donation that I will ever consider for the MDC Animal Services. This can be considered a "what came first the chicken or the egg" scenario, but you don't send out such exhorbitant notices - ESPECIALLY at this time - and then expect people to not react negatively.

    You reap what you sow and you, MDC Animal Services, have soured many of us.

  5. Section 5-8 (c) clearly states:

    (c) No penalty shall apply for the violation of this section unless notice is issued to the responsible party regarding the violation and the responsible party fails to satisfy the requirements of this section within thirty (30) days of the issuance of the notice.

    If the MDC Animal Services (or whatever department is responsible for said notifications) cannot provide proof of sending you a notification, then you can LEGALLY argue that you only failed to pay due to MDC Animal Services failing to notify you (as required by Section 5-8(c))

    The above argument is valid only up until last week, as of this week, they have obviously modified the code so that they are no longer required to notify you.

    No doubt this "notification obligation" change has been made to the code because a sufficient number of people have managed to argue their case (no doub t successfully) as to MDCAS not complying with the proper notification process.

    So I suggest that anybody who has been NOW notified, but not so as was required by law, that you protest accordingly.

  6. To anonymous

    I am comforted in knowing that others feel similar outrage over this matter. The only thing I could do to "feel better" and let others know what the county was quietly working on was to write this post.

    I paid the fine and sent an email to the collection supervisor at Animal Services expressing my concerns. He never replied. I hope you and others join me in writing letters to the county commission, county mayor and the news media.
    An investigative reporter is what we need, so he or she can ask lots and lots of questions.

    Words are powerful...people are powerful...

  7. to Fearless: Carmen Cafiero(sp?) lives for this type of defense of the (do forgive the pun) "underdog". You would not in the least be brushed away by her if this were to be presented to her in a logical, pragmatic and legally favorable sense.

    Your (everybody's) logical argument is that prior to the change in the law, the MDCAS were REQUIRED by law (ordinance) to notify of the renewal. Now they've changed it so they are no longer required to notify of the renewal date. Erego, by law, MDCAS has no basis upon which to now demand payment of fines to which they never notified there were any up to and including the date until the ordinance/law was they were required to do so.

    End result? (in particular if you get Howard Finkelstein or Carmen involved) is that with so many people getting these fines, the MDCAS will now likely offer a "forgiveness" or "amnesty" period to everybody to come in to registered/tag/update their pet for the one time fee - and wherever it is that you comply with the regulation, the MDCAS will make sure that you are now handed a bright pink flyer that screams "TTENTION: Pursuant to recent changes in the ordinance......"

  8. I also got a violation last week. I will be contesting it because the ordinance clearly says "no penalty shall apply... (30 days notice). My questions is that some of you have said that the ordinance has changed. Where can i find that, or are you guys going by what Animal Services has told you?

    Lastly, if i win, i will let you guys know.

  9. guys, where do you see that the ordinance has changed? I still see that it requires notice.

  10. To Anonymous

    I have not found the "new ordinance" and trust me I have looked and asked questions at the Animal Services office. I was told by several employees that the ordinance had been changed to "exclude" the section that entitles us to a notice. The problem is that "notices" were not sent out to many of us prior to the ordinance change. I "assume" the county, in need of revenue would make more $money$ by removing section (c) and if you visit Animal Services you "will notice" just how beneficial it has been for the county "not to send out these notices." I ASK THAT EVERYONE WRITE THE COUNTY COMMISSION AND MAYOR'S OFFICE OR SEND EMAILS AS I HAVE. THE PUBLIC IS COMPLETELY UNAWARE AND when threatened with a lean on your property...well of course few will question the decision or the motives behind such ordinance.

  11. to all:

    the prior Chapter V of the Miami Dade County Code (if they have not updated it over the weekend) can be found at: - look for dade county, scroll to Article II - Chapter V. In reading, it was last enacted December 18, 2007. NOtification requirements are listed in Section 5-8.

    There is a CLEAR assumption that since revenue has diminished considerably, and that the 12/18/07 ordinance did not eliminate the need for notice (as outlined in Section 5-8), on May 12, 2008, the ordinance was revised YET AGAIN, to now EXCLUDE the notification process. You can get access a copy of the NEW Chapter V (which now conveniently excludes the notification requirement) at It is a 47 page document listed as a "Re-Write" - you WILL have to wade through it to find that they've eliminated the notice requirement.

    That is the most that I can provide. The rest you have to put a little elbow grease into it.


    Section 5-8 (c): No penalty shall apply for the violation fo this section unless notice IS [emphasis added] issued to the responsible party regarding the violation and the responsible party fails to satisfy the requirements of this section within thirty (30) days of the issuance of the notice

    NEW REQUIREMENT: (Now under Section 5-7)

    (e)(1) The Department MAY [emphasis added] issue a courtesy notice before the dog is due for registration or the license tag is due for renewal. It is provided, however, that issuance of a courtesy notice shall not be deemed to be a prerequisite to enforcement of the provisions of this sections.

    Now YOU figure out just how manipulative they've made the wording of the ordinances to make sure you have no argument and will pay for fear of "losing your home"

  13. Where did you get the new section of the ordinance? i would like to look it up. Also, when did that pass?


  15. To all those needing a copy of the ordinances: Go to the 17th Floor of the Stephen Clark Building downtown, as you get out of the elevator, straight ahead a little to the left is a door, to which the receptionist behind the door can see you through the window, she'll buzz you in.

    The second cubicle to the right (I believe his name is either Keith or Kevin) is the person that can make a copy - FREE OF CHARGE - of the OLD ordinance if you ask just for Animal Ordinance 5-6 through 5-8 - its about 3 pages. Also ask him to make a copy of the NEW ordinance 5-6 through 5-8 (which has not yet been finalized, but barring any "protests" it will be approved at the next Commission meeting - it is about 5 pages)

    Look at your notices of violations and compare the violation dates with the Ordinance requirements, and you will note that prior to May 2008, the Animal Services were REQUIRED "MUST" have notified you of the violation - clearly they never did. When the new ordinance goes into effect (likely June 2008) they now MAY issue a courtesy notice of the violation, but are not obligated to do so AND you have no recourse but to pay the fine if they did not notify you.


    Oh yes, they're open M-F 8 to 4

  16. Fearless and All - Excellent News!

    It seems that due to a certain backlash, Animal Services is now softening a bit on their "stance" regarding the citations they have issued. Please verify with today's Miami Herald - Action Line which addresses specifically this topic.

    I draw your attention to the last column bullet point three:
    "Now....if you got your dog's shot/tags up-to-date within 30 days of the citations issuance, the department "should" (vague word, but still arguable) clear it up by phone, fax or if you visit in person. You shouldn't have been told that you must either pay the fine or file an appeal in order to get it dismissed."

    There you have it folks, get a copy of the article in today's MH, take it to AS and have those citations dismissed. It's clear that many, many people have called, complained and no doubt requested hearings to the point that it has become unmanageable for the department.

    Fearless, you said in your original blog that the word of the people is powerful.......

    thus...... WORD...

    P.S. - May I pat myself on the back now? :)


  18. This entire law sucks! I have 3 dogs and all have been vaccinated every year, two are 16 years old. I missed one of them because of course they are on different dates, but did get my dog vaccinated a month later. Why should i pay $160 when for 16 years I have vaccinated my dogs and the poor 16 year old does not even get out any more. This $160 is such an exaggerated amount too. I absolutely hate the county and everyone who works for them as a result of this stupid fine. I will never again contribute to helping them because they are abusive. If I find a class action law suit to change this law, I will give all the monies to that instead of these rip-off-artists.


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