West Miami man ordered to give up his elderly cats

perez cats

Two of Perez’s cats in a mobile cage he has built. This is not ideal.

By Elisa Black-Taylor

West Miami resident Hans H. Perez is now facing a predicament no cat lover should ever have to go through. Hans is the owner of nine cats, whom he’s had and cared for 16 years. He is actually a cat rescuer and lives in rented accommodation.

Now thanks to a city code allowing a three cat maximum per household, Hans was ordered to give up six of his cats or face a $25 per day fine, which started on May 1st  2013 and continues. A Care2 petition to save these senior cats has been started by the Octavio Feline Foundation.

This isn’t a case of a cat caregiver being in over his head and the cats having to suffer. An animal control officer for Miami-Dade County has been out to the home, where it was determined that Perez is a responsible cat caregiver. He’s within County Code and has provided both vet references as well as references by his neighbors.

Mr. Perez has lived in West Miami for 20 years now, and has had these cats for 16 of those years.

The nine cats are all well cared for, up to date with their vetting, spay/neutered, and registered with the city. I’m not sure by the way the article reads as to whether Perez lives in the county and is having to follow a city code, or whether he resides within city limits. Perhaps someone more familiar with this dilemma can clarify this. At any rate, the fines are in place and accruing but he is not paying them. There is the possibility of an amendment to the ordinance that provides for a period of transition, which would benefit Mr Perez and his cats.

The petition, written by Carolina Araica and targeted to the city of West Miama, Chief Code Enforcement Officer Juan Pena, Mayor Eduardo H. Muhina and City Manager Yolanda Aguilar is asking for all of the cats to be allowed to live out the remainder of their lives in the only home they’ve ever known. Some have gone so far as to call the city officials cat haters, whose primary goal is to rid the city of all cats.

The Miami-Dade shelter isn’t an option, because they wouldn’t put the cats up for adoption due to their age. And owner turn-in’s don’t get any time to be adopted, meaning the cats could be euthanized as soon as they come into the shelter. Miami-Dade kills 90% of turn-in’s.

This sounds like a case where government interference is just plain wrong. It would be different if a crime was being committed, such as neglect or animal hoarding. Even animal control has vouched for the cats being cared for and in good condition. Doesn’t local government have anything better to do than to harass a gentleman who has given a great life to his companions?

Here’s some contact info, should anyone wish to make their feelings known.

  • Chief Code Enforcement Officer Juan Pena (305)266-1122 (Main) or (305)266-4214 (Juan Pena)
  • Mayor Eduardo H. Muhina email cw********@be*******.net or (305)266-1122
  • City Manager Yolanda Aguilar (305)266-1122


Note from Michael: the picture is published her under fair use principles. It is small and a link to the Miami Herald is provided thereby benefiting the newspaper.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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17 Responses

  1. Carolyn says:

    Hans H Perez, I am praying that these moronic “officials” will come to their senses and leave you and your cats ALONE! Are they REALLY this cold and heartless? It is one thing if someone is “hoarding” animals or if the animals are in poor health or living in unsafe, unhealthy, or dangerous conditions. From what I have read, this is not the case by a long stretch with you. Your cats are loved and cared for.
    PLEASE, Miami, do not bleed this man dry with fines and PLEASE do not take his precious cats from him! Let them stay with the man who loves and cares for them so well until the natural end of their lives. It is the ONLY humane and compassionate solution to what you so erroneously view as a “problem.”

  2. Leah says:

    I just makes me feel that this law which is so strict has been made by cat haters FOR cat haters!!! Its just horrible 🙁 I hope that a cat lover who has pleanty of money comes forward and pays the fines so he can keep his cats If I had the money I would.

  3. Marc says:

    Another case of the law being unable to cover the right situations only. It’s very sad indeed. If only the man could just move the hell out of there. There should be an additional circumstance added into law that allows for more cats or dogs if its clearly not causing a problem – and it could be argued because of the problem of stray animals. There’s the motivation to allow more animals to a person wherever possible.

  4. Dee (Florida) says:

    It feels more and more like Nazi Germany here. Some day, authorities will be armed and break down doors to make a “cat count”.

    Nobody cares about a “kid count” of those folks that suck the taxpayers dry taking care of them.

    Even if Dade County doesn’t rescind this insane ordinance, people should be grandfathered in.

    • Michael says:

      I hate to say it but the UK has gone a similar route with the police preventing freedom of speech and from an outsider’s point of view the US looks less democratic than it ever did. I think it is the economic pressures and security pressures that cause people to become more hostile.

      This ordinance needs amending to make it more sensible.

  5. 25 $/Day fine for each cat * 6 cats = 150 US $’S!.Since he has had these cats for 16 years means that a few of these cats could be very old nearing the end of their average life-span.An exception could be made in Hans H. Perez’s case and at least be exempted for the present 6 cats he has owned since 16 years.He is funding the entire upkeep of his cats and if the cats are not a nuisance to his co-tenants then there is no reason he shouldn’t keep them.The American pet Laws could be really cruel and ridiculous at times, especially to citizens from developing Country’s.

  6. Harvey Harrison says:

    I wonder if a charge of ” cause of animal cruelty” could be made against the authorities enforcing that rule, as follows.
    Implementing that rule would cause bodily harm or death to the cats involved. This is clear because of the situation at Miami Dade Shelter and the lack of considerations for the well-being of the cats.
    As usual the law is an Ass, and the people who enforce it are Ass-holes.

  7. Barbara says:

    How cruel to expect him to choose three cats to keep and six to part with, surely the law would have been better to allow existing pets to remain for their lifetime and not be replaced. Like you Elisa I wouldn’t do it, I’d move before I’d part with a single one of them. I’ve found the petition on the Internet and signed, it’s here http://www.lifewithcats.tv/2013/10/15/3-petition-wants-west-miami-to-allow-man-to-keep-his-senior-cats/
    I hope someone can stop this madness

    • Michael says:

      The law makers have totally missed the point that people have a deep emotional connection with their cat(s) and that each cat has a value. They are making decisions as declawing US vets do: ignoring the emotional element of the person and the life of the cat.

  8. Elisa says:

    I understand financially it may not be possible but I’d move before I surrended those cats. He’d have to live with that decision the rest of his life.

    • Ash says:

      I would also move. Or fight it and make a huge fuss. 3 cats is not that many. A lot of people all over the country have more than 3 cats, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. When I don’t have kitten fosters, which take way more time and money, we have 8 cats here. 2 feral; 1 elderly, grumpy old man cat, and 5 younger 1-2 y/o cats. It is not that hard to take care of 8 cats. I can’t imagine why such a law, limiting the number of cats someone could own would even be needed. I am assuming there are already laws on the books for hoarding situations and/or homes where the cats are not being taken care of. I feel horrible for this man and his cats, no one should be in this type of situation if they are a responsible pet owner.

  9. Michael says:

    It is clear to me that the introduced law should have had a built-in transition period whereby people with more than 3 cats were allowed to keep them until they passed away but not replace them so that over time no one had more than 3 cats.

    This would have been sensible and humane. The current arrangement just means more loved cats being killed at shelters.

    The new ordinance is poorly drafted. It needs amending (and acting retrospectively) and in the meantime Perez should be allowed to keep his cats

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