Staten Island Advance, Tuesday, January 15, 2002
Adopting a pet will cost more
City's shelter agency raises fees and starts charging rescue groups as well
BY REGINALD PATRICK
ADVANCE CITY HALL BUREAU
The city's animal control agency has boosted pet-adoption fees, and has even begun charging animal rescue groups a
fee for each stray they save from city shelters. The moves could lead to more animals being euthanized, animal activists
The Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC) boosted fees for people who directly adopt pets at city shelters -- from
$100 to $125 for purebreds, and from $60 to $100 for mixed breeds. This could have a chilling effect on adoptions,
"Their approach is totally counter-productive," said Manhattan resident Gary Kaskel, of the Shelter Reform Action
Committee. "It's penny wise and pound foolish, and it will cost animals their lives."
But it's the new fee for rescue groups -- $25 to $40 per released animal -- that really rankled activists.
"CACC is in the business of killing a lot of animals unnecessarily," Kaskel said. "As everybody knows, it is not a common
practice for shelters to charge rescue workers fees -- because they're the people who help them move the animals.
CACC depends on the rescuers to bring their adoption numbers up. But advocates now fear that even more animals will
be killed because many struggling rescuers will not be able to absorb these new fees."
CACC insists the new charge is simply a long overdue move to partially recoup the hundreds of thousands of dollars
the agency lays out each year to have animals housed, fed, groomed, spayed and neutered, and tagged with
microchips -- to facilitate tracking lost pets -- before being placed in homes.
Doris Meyer, a spokeswoman for CACC, said the agency is "happy to have the help" of private animal rescuers -- she
calls them "animal placement" people -- but they should understand "we feel it's necessary for us to get something
When asked why CACC only started charging the fee this year, Ms. Meyer said the agency saw costs mount in 2000
when a local law went into effect requiring that animals be altered before adoption.
"And still we had a no-fee policy through 2000 and 2001," she said. "But we realized costs were rising dramatically. We
finally decided we'd have to recoup a small percentage of what we pay."
But Kaskel charged the new fee is meant to cover a City Hall budget cut of more than $600,000 from the agency. In one
of his last acts as mayor, Rudolph W. Giuliani put together a city budget revision -- later approved by the City Council in
modified form -- that slashed most agencies by about 13 percent. Ms. Meyer denied the fee was connected to any
"It's a transparent lie to say they're not charging the fees because of budget cuts," Kaskel said. "But then Doris Meyer is
not in the business of telling the truth."
In 2000, before the fees were in place, rescuers removed 8,324 dogs and cats from CACC shelters citywide, "saving
their lives, rehabilitating them and adopting them to good homes," according to Kaskel. "This represents 14 percent of
all animals adopted from the CACC. That's a 38-percent increase over 1999."
By comparison there were 5,280 direct adoptions -- where individuals came in to shelters to directly adopt animals -- in
2000, he said.
The trend is reversed on Staten Island, where individual adoptions far outnumber placements by animal-rescue groups.
Ms. Meyer said there were 1,458 adoptions by individuals in 2000 through the CACC shelter at 3139 Veterans Rd. W.
in Charleston. She said the shelter placed 132 animals in homes through several local animal rescue groups that year.
She could supply no statistics later than 2000.
The Advance was unable last night to locate any local rescue group that takes animals directly from the shelter to place
Clotilda Garguilo of Huguenot, of the Staten Island Council for Animal Welfare, said her group "has no agreement with
CACC" allowing it take animals from the shelter for adoptive placement. "There's like a 20-page agreement you have to
sign with the city to do that," she explained.
She said her group picks up strays on the streets, gives them a medical examination, then boards the cats in private
homes and the dogs in kennels while making arrangements for permanent placements. The work can be an expensive
proposition for the agency. Ms. Garguilo said veterinarian services can cost up to $200 per animal and
spaying/neutering can run from $50 to $75.
Kaskel said it is routine for rescuers to lay out hundreds per animal for medical care, shots and altering.
"Often these animals are sick with kennel cough, upper respiratory infections, and other conditions, a result of close
confinement, lack of exercise and poor ventilation," he said.
"In addition they need to be bathed and groomed, boarded and fed. Dogs and cats frequently display classic symptoms
of depression and often need to be re-socialized. The average cost of rescuing, vetting and rehabilitating is about
$250, but many rescuers have had to assume costs of thousands of dollars for sick animals."
Ms. Meyer, the CACC spokesman, said animals in the shelter system are given a rating measuring their adoptability --
in terms of physical condition, temperament and other factors -- and placement groups are charged on the basis of how
easy it would be to place the animal. "If they are so-called 'status one' animals that can be quickly placed, we charge a
group $40 for the animal," Ms. Meyer said. Less "adoptable" animals require a lower fee, and sometimes, no fee at all.
"In some cases, when it looks like it will turn out to be a long haul for the placement group or where there could be
substantial medical costs, we charge nothing," she said.