Our Town, January 12, 1995
Animal Activists: City is 'Inhumane'
by Chris Erikson
Animal rights activists greeted the brand new Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC) with bared fangs last week, charging that the group, which began working under city contract Saturday, is perpetuating the city's "inhumane" approach to animal population control.
The Coalition for New York City Animals, which comprises dozens of animal activist groups, charged that the CACC will continue the "impound and kill" approach of the ASPCA, which for over a century has been in charge of the city's animal control efforts.
That approach, critics say, emphasizes killing stray animals rather than focusing on adoption and prevention through low-cost spay/neuter programs. As a result, critics charge that New York City, which killed over 46,000 animals last year, is lagging behind other cities which have taken initiatives to reduce their unwanted animal populations.
"They've had a pick-up-and-kill philosophy for many years. Our philosophy is, let's spay and neuter," said Frances Carlisle of the Coalition for New York City Animals." 46,000 is just too many. We're way behind other cities, and there's just no excuse for it. We need a new way of thinking."
Animal activists point to San Francisco as an example-having instituted a comprehensive spay/neuter program, the city now kills fewer than 4,000 dogs and cats a year, down from a high of 65,000, according to the Coalition.
By focusing on birth control and adoption, the CACC would reduce costs over the long haul, while reducing animal suffering, animal activists say. Instead, the CACC is planning to continue in essentially the same vein as theASPCA, which failed to initiate low-cost spay/neuter programs, and achieved an average adoption rate of only 17 to 18 percent over the last five years, according to the Coalition.
"If you look over the new budget, there's almost no money spent on spaying and neutering, and adoptions; it's almost all for euthanasia," said City Councilwoman Kathryn Freed, an outspoken advocate of animal rights. "A 17 percent adoption rate is hideous. We absolutely cannot continue to accept this," she said.
Freed has introduced a bill that would institute mandatory spaying and neutering for all city dogs and cats over 6 months old, with certain exceptions. "The emphasis has got to be on having less unwanted animals," she said. "It's the easiest way to control the animal population," said Freed. "We have to make New York City a humane city, as opposed to a city that continues to ignore or kill its animals."
But a spokeswoman for the CACC, Cybele Fisher, said critics are jumping the gun, and promised that the group will be making some important changes, including more aggressive spay/neuter and adoption campaigns.
"We're only four days old. We have a lot of new ideas," she said. "We think the program is innovative and we think we're headed in the right direction."