New York Post, Sunday, August 2, 1998
Pet shelter tagged for no-license adoptions
By TOM TOPOUSIS
The city's animal shelter handed over 3,649 dogs for adoption last year without making the new owners get licenses as required by law, The Post has learned.
The Center for Animal Care and Control's practice is dumb founding -- since the agency was created three years ago specifically to manage the city's stray animal population.
Auditors for Comptroller Alan Hevesi said the licensing lapse could result in more unclaimed dogs because strays without tags are tougher to reunite with their owners.
"CACC inappropriately allowed individuals to adopt 3,649 unlicensed dogs from the shelter facilities," Hevesi's auditors wrote, charging the agency with violating its $5.1 million contract with the city Health Department.
Kyle Burkhart, a spokesman at the not-for-profit CACC, said at first that the agency wasn't responsible for dog licenses.
When told its city contract says otherwise, Burkhart was quick to bite the hand that feeds the CACC -- blaming the Health Department for failing to provide the shelter with forms and postage to process licenses.
"We sent the Department of Health a letter on July 14  asking that they supply us with the applications and postage. They did not do that until April of this year," said Burkhart.
A spokeswoman for the Health Department did not return several phone calls.
The licensing snafu infuriated City Councilwoman Kathryn Freed (D-Manhattan), a frequent critic of the CACC, a quasi-city agency that has operated the city's animal shelters since 1996.
"They just don't know what they're doing," said Freed. "They're creating a problem in stead of solving one."
Freed said the failure to issue dog licenses is just the latest problem at the shelters. A City Council investigation last year blasted the CACC for shoddy management and what was called one of the highest rates of euthanasia in the nation.
"From the very beginning, this agency has been a disaster and a black eye for the administration," fumed Freed. "It's like the keystone canines."
The CACC runs three shelters and two intake centers. Last year, 42,500 of the 62,000 strays taken to the shelters were killed The rest were adopted or returned to their owners.
"That's an acceptable number if you look at cities nationwide," said Burkhart.
Hevesi's audit, which was obtained by The Post, also blasted the agency for spending $42,000 a year to lease a parking lot near its Brooklyn shelter when the city already provides it with a free parking lot.
Auditors found that a second lot was needed for customers be cause the city lot was being used for employee parking -- a waste of money that "would be better spent on items directly related to caring for the animals," the auditors wrote.