NY Daily News, Friday, February 13, 1998
Animal shelters big strayed on own pet licenseby LISA REIN
Daily News Staff Writer
The chief of the city's troubled animal-shelter system failed to license her Labrador retriever until she had been on the job at least five months, flouting city law, the Daily News has learned.
Marilyn Haggerty-Blohm, acting head of the Center for Animal Care and Control, could have been socked with a fine as high as $2,000 for the violation, although such fines rarely are collected.
Mayor Giuliani recently has crusaded for New Yorkers to license their pets and ordered police sweeps of unlicensed dogs. He also has howled at dog owners who don't comply as irresponsible.
As recently as three months ago, the $90,640-a-year boss also had not neutered her 5-year-old Lab, Cash. That's not illegal, but it violates the spay-neuter poli cy pushed by the center to control the population of stray cats and dogs. Haggerty-Blohm said the dog is now neutered.
A computer check of the city Health Department's list of 85,000 licensed dogs -- provided Wednesday by workers in the licensing office -- showed that no license had been issued under Haggerty-Blohm's name or that of her husband, John.
But after inquiries from The News, Health Department spokesman Fred Winters said Haggerty-Blohm applied for and was issued a license for an unneutered dog in November -- five months after she took over the center.
The agency cares for an estimated 60,000 stray dogs and cats a year. Animal advocates and the City Council have criticized the center over allegations of mismanagement, fiscal problems and excessive euthanasia of strays at its five shelters.
Winters said Haggerty-Blohm initially had submitted a license application and check for $11.50 to a "very high-level" health offficial in August, who failed to process the paper work.
Winters provided The News with a license application dated in November, but not the earlier one he said Haggerty-Blohm made.
Winters could not provide a copy of the license, the date it was issued or proof of payment.
When asked why her dog was not licensed, Haggerty-Blohm at first insisted Cash had had a license and tag since last spring.
She said Cash "had a license before" that lapsed and was not renewed. But she was not specific about when it was in effect-and neither she nor health officials provided any proof.
Haggerty-Blohm is expected to be named permanent agency head this winter. She has held senior city government jobs for 13 years. Most recently, she was deputy director in the mayor's Offfice of Operations.
"Anybody needs to be licensed if they have a dog and certainly a city offficial should know that," said Elinor Molbegott, the attorney for the Humane Soci ety of New York. "When city officials don't bother to get a license, it doesn't set a good example."