Shelter Reform Action Committee History
In 1994 the Animal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) refused to renew its contract with the City's Department of Health (DOH) to run NYC's animal shelter system.
The ASPCA cited chronic underfunding by the DOH.
In response Mayor Rudolph Giuiliani and the DOH created an entity called "Center for Animal Care & Control" (later shortened to "Animal Care & Control") to take over servicing that contract. The City claimed the AC&C was an "independent" charity, but its corporate structure ensured that the humane treatment of animals would never be a priority.
In response a group of animal advocates created "Shelter Reform Action Committee" to spread the alarm.
As SRAC predicted, through the years the AC&C has suffered from many "lacks": lack of funding, lack of space, lack of skilled and committed leadership, lack of transparency, and lack of public confidence and support.
The Original SRAC Board
The original executive committee consisted of: Gary Kaskel (co-chair), Marie Mar (co-chair), Julie Van Ness (treasurer) and
Barbara Stagno (secretary). Other founding members included Livi French, Patty Adjamine and Carol Caver.
Together these founding members reflected dozens and dozens of years serving as animal advocates and/or rescuers.
Over the years SRAC has succeeded in opening up AC&C Board Meetings to the public, exposing mismanagement, dysfunction and crippling conflicts of interests, hastening the exit of various incompetents from AC&C management, and educating the public about animal welfare conditions both inside and outside the AC&C shelter walls.
SRAC has also served as an invaluable clearinghouse of information for individuals and groups interested in the welfare of NYC's animals.
What Still Needs to Be Done
NYC's animal shelter system should have as its central goal the humane care of the City's homeless pet population. Without that core purpose it cannot hope to attract the skilled leadership and needed funding to run what this great city deserves: a world class shelter system.
Shelter conditions are exacerbated by problems originating outside the shelter walls:
-- Far more support is needed to provide Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) services for feral cats. Without TNR New York City cannot hope to humanely stem the tsunami of kittens that flood AC&C shelters every year.
-- New York City public schools fail to teach humane education thereby ensuring that generation after generation of children grow up without being taught empathy for animals and the core responsibilities of being a pet owner.
-- Responsible pet owners face arbitrary rules limiting or barring the number or kind of pets they may own, often forcing them to relinquish their pets.
-- Animal cruelty continues to plague NYC, due in part to the lack of humane education as well as effective enforcement of anti-cruelty laws.
-- Millions of dollars in potential funding for the shelter system are lost due to failure to encourage and enforce dog licensing.
-- NYC pet shops continue to profit from the sale of "puppy mill" animals, many of which (or their progeny) end up at the AC&C or compete with AC&C animals seeking new homes.
AC&C's animal population is a reflection of all of those failures.
Creating a humane and progressive shelter system involves two simultaneous steps: educating the public about the problems contributing to animal homelessness while providing concrete solutions to those very problems.
That has been been SRAC's focus over the years.
Will you help in our efforts?