It’s a typical, sunny Saturday morning when I arrive at Pet Partners Rescue Home in southwest Miami Dade County. As I walk up to the entrance, cats of all shapes and sizes greet me running about the front yard. I ring the doorbell and after a few minutes, Bernie Alfonso, a tall, gray-haired gentleman in his mid-fifties greets me.
As founder of Pet Partners Rescue Home, Alfonso has made it his duty to take care of cats that have been abandoned. Alfonso takes us on a tour of the grounds. As we walk around the side yard, he opens up a tall, wooden door and we enter the pet sanctuary.
In one corner of the yard, he has a wooden hut and about 13 dog houses that serve as a place for the cats to romp, rest, or just hang out. Across from the hut and cat houses, he has two chain-link kennels that serve as a place to quarantine animals until they have been socialized to the rest of the community of free-roaming cats in the sanctuary. At last count, Alfonso had 84 cats, four dogs, one rabbit, and a goat. Sensing my surprise at seeing a goat in the sanctuary he says,
“Yes, there is no animal that I would not take in. I even take in birds,” he says, “If it’s a living creature, it’s welcome.”
Alfonso started Pet Partners Rescue Home in Feb. 2010 because he saw a necessity. He adds,
“Knowing that these animals face death by shelter, I had to do something. Euthanasia is the main cause of death of healthy and treatable animals in the U.S.”
Over-population is a growing problem in local shelters and many resort to euthanasia. Alfonso’s tone becomes stern when he speaks of this practice,
“Many animal shelters claim that they are no-kill shelters; however, many of the animals they euthanize are healthy, treatable animals,” he said. “It’s criminal what is being done to these animals. If you inject an animal with a drug, you are killing the animal. One cannot simply euthanize treatable, healthy animals.”
Pet Partners Rescue Home is determined to make a difference in the lives of healthy, treatable animals but the organization faces some obstacles. Fundraising and a lack of foster homes makes matters difficult. Alfonso cannot take in all the animals brought to his shelter and a network of foster parents would help further Pet Partners Rescue Home’s mission to save homeless pets from destruction by providing them with a home until they can be adopted.
“In these economic times, donations from local residents are few and far between; however, pet food companies have donated food, litter, and basic medications,” he says. “This is a labor of love. Taking care of the pets in the sanctuary is a lot of work. They must be fed, vaccinated, and the facilities need cleaning and maintenance. A dedicated network of foster parents would help immensely.”
Pet Partners Rescue Home has plans to expand its network of foster parents so they can help more cats find forever homes and initiate a fundraising campaign later this year to increase donations. To adopt a cat or dog one must fill out an application and meet the terms of Pet Partners Rescue Home contract. Additionally, only cats and dogs that are spayed and neutered are released for adoption. There is no adoption fee.
“We refuse to charge to help an animal. However, donations are graciously appreciated,” Alfonso says.
Pet Partners Rescue Home is located at 9555 SW 42nd St. Miami, FL 33165. For adoptions or to surrender a homeless animal please call 305-772-1295 or the Pet Partners Rescue Home Hotline at 305-772-1295. For additional information, visit www.petpartnersrescuehome.com