There’s a big problem at animal shelters across South Florida – literally.
Larger dogs, like pit bulls, pit bull mixes and German Shepherds, often struggle to find pet owners, said Lisa Mendheim of Broward County Animal Rescue. Many people are wary of adopting bigger canines due to negative stereotypes about the creatures and the restrictions many condos and apartment buildings place on them.
Roughly 50 to 70 percent of dogs at Broward County Animal Rescue are considered large, Mendheim said. They also tend to stay at the shelter for longer periods of time.
In several cases, these dogs -- which also include rottweilers -- are brought to animal shelters for reasons outside of their control.
“Many of these pets end up at shelter doors because of circumstances,” said Mendheim. “We have people crying here because they had to surrender their pet.”
Pet owners are often forced to part ways with their large dogs because of an upcoming move to an apartment or condo that has size restrictions. A lot of developments in South Florida don’t allow for dogs that weigh more than 40 pounds.
The issue spans to other parts of South Florida, like Miami-Dade County. Jossie Aguirre, of the Humane Society of Greater Miami, echoes Mendheim’s message.
The ban on pit bulls in Miami-Dade County presents an additional challenge. Mendheim said a large portion of dogs at Broward County Animal Rescue are pit bulls, due to the ban in Miami-Dade. If someone in Miami-Dade owns or keeps a pit bull, they will face a $500 fine and the animal will be court-ordered to location outside of the county.
There are other reasons people opt to adopt smaller dogs – such as financial issues or having small children around – but condo association requirements seem to be the main reason why people stray away, Mendheim said.
“They’re limited by the HCA or condo association,” she said. “That combined with preconceived notions about pit bulls and larger dogs...it is challenging.”
If you want a new pet and are interested and able to adopt a larger dog, visit nbc6.com/cleartheshelters for information on our adoption initiative.