New York Daily News, Friday, September 27, 2002
BLOOMBERG TO CITY STRAYS: TOUGH LUCK
[photo of dog with baloon caption:] "SAY IT AIN'T SO, MIKE"
NO MONEY FOR ALL-NIGHT SHELTERS TO RESCUE DOGS.
See Page 3
Tough luck, puppy
Mayor: Can't afford all-night animal shelters
By LISA L. COLANGELO
DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU
It may be a doggone shame, but Mayor Bloomberg said yesterday there's not enough cash to rescue all the city's homeless pooches.
He shrugged off a Daily News story that revealed budget cuts have forced city animal shelters to slash overnight hours placing some stray dogs and cats in danger.
"We are entering a period where unfortunately, we are going to have to do with a lot fewer services," he said at a City Hall news conference.
"If you cannot bring ... a stray animal into one of the shelters or adopt in the middle of the night, I'm sorry, that's one of the compromises we just have to make," he said.
When a reporter asked him what would happen to strays plucked from the streets by police officers in the wee hours, Bloomberg bristled.
"I'd love to help you," he said. "Now, we have to have teachers. We have to have police officers. We have to have firefighters. We have to collect the garbage. We have to provide housing under the law and court orders. We have to do a lot of things, and not having the shelters open at 3 in the morning is one of the least painful sacrifices that we are going to have to make.
His comments angered animal advocates.
"This mayor appears to have a true insensitivity to this constituency -- everything in life is not the bottom line," said Gary Kaskel of the Shelter Reform Action Committee.
Animal advocates said budget cuts have made a bad situation worse at the Center for Animal Care and Control, which has a contract with the city to handle stray animals. Its budget was sliced 13% this year -- to $7.2 million from $8.3 million.
Three shelters in Brooklyn, Staten Island and Manhattan cut their daily operations in July to 12 hours a day from 24.
People have left boxes of kittens outside the shuttered shelters. Dogs have been spotted tied to fences.
"How about enforcing the law?" asked Regina Massaro, director of the Spay Neuter Intervention Project, who has rescued hundreds of dogs in the city. "If you enforce the dog license law, you would bring in revenue. Cops should not be spending time bringing dogs to the pound."
Meanwhile, city health officials scrambled behind the scenes to find a way to keep at least one of the three shelters open around the clock.
"We are looking into 24-hour dropoff option," said Sandy Mullin, associate commissioner at the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
On Wednesday, Animal Care Executive Director Marilyn Haggerty-Blohm conceded that reduced shelter hours resulted in the deaths of some stray animals handled by police. She refused to provide details.
But Bloomberg has a heart, said Jane Hoffman, president and chairwoman of the newly formed advisory group Mayor's Alliance for N.Y.C.'s Animals.
She said the mayor made sure to appoint all new members to the Animal Care board of directors, which announced Wednesday that it is starting a nationwide search to replace Haggerty-Blohm, a Giuliani administration appointee.
"We are in a budget crunch," Hoffman said. "But we are working very hard, using the city's nonfinancial resources, to create a citywide adoption network."