TABLE OF CONTENTS
Executive Summary Part 1
Introduction Part 1
Methodology Part 1
Background Part 2
Findings and Recommendations Part 2
-- Organizational Culture/Structure Part 3
-- Spay/Neuter Policies and Practices Part 3
-- Adoption Policies and Practices Part 3
-- Facility Locations and Hours of Operation Part 4
-- Facility Conditions and Animal Care Part 4
-- Public and Community Relations Part 4
-- Use of Volunteers Part 4
-- Record Keeping Systems Part 5
-- Funding for Animal Care and Control Part 5
Conclusion Part 5
Attachments Part 5
New York City has a population of approximately 7.3 million people and more than two million pets.
Many of us have dogs, cats, and other animals as pets because they provide much-needed
companionship in a hectic city. Our pets' unquestioning loyalty and affection can lead to lifelong
bonds as strong as those we develop with family and close friends.
Sadly, the loyalty and affection pets give is not always returned. Many people abandon their pets
when ownership becomes inconvenient--when they move or when the animal outgrows the cute
puppy or kitten stage. Some people abandon their pets when they need costly veterinary care.
Others lose their pets. When pets are abandoned or lost, New York City's Center for Animal Care
and Control (CACC) is responsible for providing shelter. Approximately 63,000 dogs, cats and other
animals entered the CACC's shelter system in 1996--an average of more than 170 animals per day.
Few ever found a loving home again.
In fact, more than 45,000 of the animals which entered the CACC's shelters in 1996 were killed--an
average of more than 120 animals per day. After a mandatory 48 hour holding period in the shelter
system, animals who are not reunited with their owners, for whom there is not sufficient cage
space, or who are labeled "unadoptable" because they are sick, old, or unattractive, are given a
lethal injection of sodium pentobarbital. After they die, their bodies are stacked in a carcass freezer
to be transported out of the City and cremated.
This massive loss of animal life is especially tragic because it is largely preventable. Other
municipalities have developed comprehensive and innovative approaches to animal care and
control which have reduced the animal overpopulation, increased adoptions, and rendered
euthanasia and option which is used less and less often.
In 1993, when the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) announced that
it would no longer provide animal care and control services, the City was presented with the
opportunity to institute policies and programs which would increase adoptions and reduce the high
rate of euthanasia which then existed. In August 1994, the City established a new not-for-profit, the
CACC, which assumed responsibility for animal care and control services pursuant to a contract
with the Department of Health (DOH).
Unfortunately, the CACC was, in many respects, dead on arrival. The City purchased two shelters for
its use--one which had been poorly constructed and the other in need of significant renovation.
Neither of the shelters are located in areas conducive to the promotion of adoptions, and the level
of City funding provided to the CACC is low in comparison to other municipalities nationwide.
The problems with the CACC shelters' infrastructure, the location of its facilities and the level of
funding were immediately compounded by the City's decision to hire an individual with no direct
experience running an animal shelter as the CACC's Executive Director. Under the leadership of
this individual, and a Board of Directors controlled by three New York City Commissioners, the
CACC has been unable to articulate or to implement a comprehensive animal care and control
program. Moreover, the Executive Director's leadership allegedly fostered an organizational
culture which alienated individuals and groups important to the CACC's success and has been
marked by high staff turnover.
In October 1996, Kathryn Freed, Chair of the New York City Council's Committee on Contracts,
requested a comprehensive performance review of the CACC, pursuant to its contract with the City.
The Council's review revealed serious operational and administrative problems with the CACC. The
conclusions drawn in this report are based on Council staff's assessment of the accessibility of the
CACC's facilities and services, conditions in the shelters, animal care, adoption and spay/neuter
policies and practices, and the CACC's record keeping system. These areas are crucial to the
provision of direct services by the CACC. Council staff also reviewed the scope of the CACC's
public and community relations efforts and its recruitment and use of volunteers. Finally, the
Council assessed the effectiveness of the CACC's management and its Board of Directors.
This review reveals that, although the CACC's name implies that it provides care to animals, it does
little more than ensure that the majority of the animals it receives are euthanized shortly after the
mandatory 48 hour holding period expires. Specific findings concerning the CACC's operations and
recommendations for improvement include the following:
The CACC has a high staff turnover rate.
The CACC's management has failed to timely implement employee training and support programs.
The CACC is isolated from organizations and individuals with similar missions.
The City Commissioners who serve on the Board of Directors have disproportionate control over
the CACC's policies and practices.
A new Executive Director with extensive shelter experience and a national reputation should be
selected as soon as possible.
The Board of Directors should review the qualifications and job performance of all senior managers.
The CACC should develop and implement employee and volunteer training and support programs.
The CACC should develop cooperative relationships with organizations and individuals with similar
The CACC's By-Laws should be amended to provide that appointed Directors serve for fixed terms
which are staggered, so as to provide continuity. These Directors should only be removed for
cause, by a two-thirds, plus one, vote of the Board of Directors.
The CACC's By-Laws should be amended to provide all Directors on the Board an equal vote in
selecting the CACC's management. Specifically, the provision that certain actions by the Board
require the vote of all three of the ex officio directors, should be eliminated.
The City should immediately engage an independent entity to perform the pre-termination contract
review, and all future performance evaluations required by the PPB.
The City should create an Advisory Committee composed of local veterinarians, professionals in
animal-related fields, advocates and rescuers, and representatives of pet-related commercial
businesses. The Committee would assist the CACC's management and its Board of Directors with all
aspects of shelter policy and could also assume a large role in special projects and in establishing
public and community relations and volunteer programs.
SPAY/NEUTER POLICIES AND PRACTICES
The CACC continues to release unspayed/unneutered animals to the public through its adoption
The CACC does not have the capacity to perform a large number of spays/neuters in-house.
The CACC only achieved a 52% redemption rate of the certificates it distributed entitling new
owners to free spay/neutering of their pets in 1996.
The CACC performs minimal follow-up to determine if a new owner has complied with the provision
of the CACC adoption contract which requires a newly adopted pet to be spayed/neutered.
The ASPCA Clinic, which provided spay/neuter and other veterinary medical services, was ordered
to vacate the Brooklyn Shelter effective April 1, 1997, to accommodate renovations.
The CACC should:
Meet its contractual obligation to spay/neuter animals prior to adoption.
Open its own in-house spay/neuter clinic, or send adopted animals directly to a contracted vendor
or participating veterinarian before releasing them to the public.
Arrange for training of local veterinarians in early spay/neuter procedures and perform this
procedure itself if it opens an in-house spay/neuter clinic.
Reinstate the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Clinic in the
Brooklyn Shelter as soon as the renovations are complete-- unless it plans to open its own
in-house spay/neuter clinic.
ADOPTION POLICIES AND PRACTICES
Less than one in five animals that the CACC receives finds a new home.
The CACC's adoption rate of 18% in 1996 was significantly lower than the national average of 24%. If
the CACC had met the national average, it would have euthanized 4,022 fewer animals in 1996.
Approximately 38% (4,302) of CACC's "adoptions" in 1996 were actually transfers to other animal
shelters, which in turn offered the animals for adoption to the public.
The CACC has failed to implement effective health and grooming protocols.
The CACC should:
Develop a comprehensive plan to significantly increase its adoption rate so that it meets , if not
exceeds, the national average.
Establish effective programs to improve the health and grooming of animals.
FACILITY LOCATIONS AND HOURS OF OPERATION
The CACC's East Harlem and East New York Shelters and Staten Island, Bronx, and Queens
Receiving Facilities are located in areas lacking significant pedestrian traffic, access to public
transportation, and in some instances, adequate parking.
The CACC's weekday adoption hours are typically restricted to normal business hours. This
schedule makes bringing an animal to or adopting a pet from the CACC difficult, if not impossible,
for most New Yorkers.
The CACC should:
Consider leasing alternate space for its Bronx and Queens Receiving Facilities, which should offer
significant pedestrian traffic, convenient access to public transportation, and adequate parking.
Re-evaluate their hours for adoption in order to maximize their accessibility to potential adopters.
Establish more partnerships with pet stores to offer off-site adoptions, both during the week and on
weekends, in each of the City's five boroughs.
FACILITY CONDITIONS AND ANIMAL CARE
The Manhattan Shelter, although only four years old, has drains which clog, floors which are
improperly pitched and a heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system in constant need of
The Brooklyn Shelter is in need of a major renovation. It is a 30 year old facility which is noisy and
has a poorly functioning HVAC system.
Animals in the CACC's shelters sometimes do not receive sufficient water and are occasionally kept
in cages soiled with urine and feces.
The City should undertake a critical review of the Manhattan and Brooklyn Shelters and determine
whether new shelter and adoption facilities which meet appropriate standards for humane animal
treatment should be acquired. If the City decides that new facilities are not needed, then it should
repair and renovate the Manhattan and Brooklyn Shelters so that they meet appropriate standards
for humane animal treatment.
DOH must actively monitor the CACC's provision of shelter, food, water, and medical treatment to
PUBLIC AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS
The CACC has conducted limited public and community relations efforts. In particular, it has failed to
adequately inform the public and other City agencies of its services, locations, hours of operation,
and telephone numbers.
The CACC does not allocate sufficient resources to public and community relations, does not avail
itself of free advertisements with the local media and fails to utilize volunteers to assist in
community outreach and education.
The CACC should:
Mount an extensive public relations campaign, including local television and radio station public
service announcements which inform the public of the CACC's responsibility for animal care and
control in the City.
Conduct an extensive outreach effort to inform all relevant City agencies of its services, locations,
hours of operation, and telephone numbers.
USE OF VOLUNTEERS
The CACC's ratio of volunteers to paid staff is significantly lower than in other shelters in New York
City and around the country.
The CACC uses most of the volunteers it does have to walk dogs. While some volunteers also help
with adoptions, overall, the CACC's volunteers have fewer responsibilities than their counterparts
in other shelters.
The CACC does not have a formal internship program for undergraduate and graduate students
pursuing degrees in animal-related fields at local institutions.
The CACC should:
Increase the number of volunteers at its various facilities.
Redesign all aspects of its volunteer program, including, but not limited to, outreach, eligibility
requirements, training, and duties.
Further develop and implement an internship program in conjunction with educational institutions
which offer undergraduate and graduate programs in animal related fields, as well as in
management, business and public policy.
RECORD KEEPING SYSTEMS
The CACC's paper-based record keeping system has contributed to its inability to develop and
implement sound policies and practices, and to deliver effective animal care and control services.
More than two years after the CACC's Board of Directors acknowledged the need for a
computerized record keeping system, the City still has failed to provide it with a fully-operational
The City should make all necessary modifications to the "Chameleon CMS" computerized record
keeping system, and provide sufficient training to the CACC's staff and make the system fully
operational by July 1, 1997.
The CACC should utilize the "Chameleon CMS" to analyze the information it gathers on each animal
handled to identify significant issues and trends--and thereby improve its delivery of animal care
and control services.
FUNDING FOR ANIMAL CARE AND CONTROL
The City's level of funding for animal care and control is significantly lower than the national
average, lower than that allocated to other large municipal shelters and lower than the level
recommended by the Humane Society of the United States.
The CACC has raised little funding from private sources.
The level of City funding for animal care and control should be reevaluated once the CACC
demonstrates that it can develop and successfully implement a comprehensive and humane animal
care and control program.
The CACC should design and implement a plan to raise funds from donors interested in improving
the welfare of animals.
The CACC should consider opening pet supply stores in all of its shelters.
Click Here To Go To Part 2
The following is the complete text of the 61-page City Council report on the Center for Animal
Care and Control following its eight-month investigation. For a hard copy of this report, free
of charge, call (212) 788-6882.
The Council of the City of New York
Hon. Peter F. Vallone, Speaker
DYING FOR HOMES:
ANIMAL CARE AND CONTROL
IN NEW YORK CITY
A Staff Report to
The Committee on Contracts
Hon. Kathryn E. Freed, Chair
Hon. Kenneth Fisher
Hon. A. Gifford Miller
Hon. Antonio Pagan
Hon. Adam C. Powell IV
Hon. Al Stabile
Hon. Lawrence A. Warden
Hon. Juanita E. Watkins
Hon. Thomas White Jr.
OFFICE OF OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATION
Le S. Chen
Peter Del Toro
WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF:
Counsel, Committee on Contracts