New York Daily News, Sunday, June 15, 1997
City's pet killer-critics
"Bring the animals in the front door
and carry their dead bodies out of the back door."
-- Kathryn Freed
by Bob Liff:
The city agency created to control and care for stray pets is an animal killing field wracked by management problems, lack of funds, staff turnover and inadequate space, according to animal activists and City Council investigators.
The city created the Center for Animal Care and Control 2-1/2 years ago to bring a more humane approach to the handling of tens of thousands of unwanted dogs and cats found on the street each year.
But the center has been euthanizing more than 40,000 animals a year while finding adoptive homes for no more than 18% of the strays it picks up. That's far lower than the 24% average nationally.
"Their goal seems to be to bring the animals in the front door and carry their dead bodies out of the back door," said City Councilwoman Kathryn Freed (D Manhattan).
Freed said a Council investigation confirmed the complaints of animals lovers who have charged that the center is little better than the agency it replaced, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
A recent Daily News tour of the Manhattan facility found dogs and cats in double-stacked cages in the adoption wards and cages lining the hallways.
"The center doesn't seem to be able to do anything except euthanize animals," said Freed, who will release the results of the Council investigation tomorrow.
The center was created as a nonprofit agency to assume the duties performed for 100 years by the ASPCA, which pulled out of the animal control business amid criticism.
The center receives $5 million in city funds a year, about what the ASPCA received. But it has not replaced the $2 million in private contributions the ASPCA raised each year to augment the city subsidy.
The center has been without an executive director since February, and it never fulfilled a promise to install and operate a computer system to track the animals in its care.
The agency also failed to meet its promise to spay or neuter all the animals that are adopted from its of fices. The Council found that more than 60% of the animals adopted from the center had not had the procedures -- which are deemed essential for adopted pets.
Dr. Susan Kopp, the center's chief veterinarian, called the criticism from animal activists "persecution and lies."
But Kopp conceded that lack of funding has left the center short of some medication. She said the city spends 67 cents per resident for animal control, about half the $1.36 per person spent by the average publicly run shelter.
Kopp also acknowledged that the center's 110th St. headquarters, inherited from the ASPCA, is "inadequate for the number of animals."
Half of the animals that the center lists as adopted are actually sent to no kill shelters like Long Island's North Shore Animal league. They take what CACC board member Lia Albo called "the fluffy, the cute."
That leaves the center with the least adoptable animals -- the stray pit bulls, the old and lame.
But Albo said city statistics that showed 71% of the 63,449 animals handled last year were killed are similar to the ASPCA's record.
"It could be run by Mother Teresa, or it could be run by [Libya's Moammar] Khadafy and the problem would still be there," she said.