Euthanasia Rates Tumble at NYC Animal Shelters After New Initiatives
New York City’s animal shelters have been reporting some positive and heartening statistics following the implementation of a number of innovative new programs since 2014 that have brought euthanasia levels way down, while boosting the number of adoptions of unwanted pets.
According to Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC; rebranded in June 2015 from Animal Care and Control), the non-profit agency that operates the city’s three animal shelters, the initiatives saw euthanasia rates drop sharply last year—down a healthy 36 per cent for dogs and 25 per cent for cats. In 2003, the facilities destroyed more than 60 per cent of the animals they took in. Today that figure is down to 13 per cent.
The agency attributes the new success to a raft of new measures, including “puppy playgroups” and mobile adoption centers, which ACC says were responsible for finding homes for 700 animals last year, helping to push total adoptions up by an encouraging 17 per cent. Armed with a fatter budget from the city, which has risen from US$7 million in 2007 to US$13 million in 2016, the agency is also looking to improve living conditions for its charges. ACC plans to open two more full-service shelters in the Bronx and Queens and to upgrade and expand its existing facilities in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Until then, conditions at the city’s shelters remain overcrowded. Last year ACC killed more than 3,000 cats and 1,000 dogs.
“Caring for 35,000 animals is an impossible task,” said ACC executive director Risa Weinstock. “We really welcome the day that those two shelters are built. In the meantime we still have those challenges. But we’ve proved that we’re an organization worth investing in.” (The New York Times)
Additional funding has also paid for ACC’s new mobile adoption centers, which drive around New York’s five boroughs bringing pets to their new families instead of waiting for people to visit the shelters. People looking to adopt can spend time with the animals and take their new pet home the same day. “This is one more tool in our tool box,” said the agency’s president and CEO Matt Bershadker. “Half the battle is getting people to the shelters. We are removing that barrier. It’s about the visibility of the animals.” (New York Post)
Behavioral experts have been hired and playgrounds added to the shelters, which allows the animal—dogs in particular—time to socialize and expend some energy outside of their kennels, invaluable, the agency says, for helping to calm the animals for potential adopters and increasing their chances of finding a home.
Counselors have also been engaged to talk with families who approach the shelters to give up their pets. ACC say its counselors have successfully persuaded 1,700 families not to abandon their pets by advising them on the availability of medical grants, low-cost boarding, or behavioral training. “So often people come in and think that’s their only option,” said Weinstock. (The New York Times)
If your family is considering taking on the responsibility of adding a new four-legged member, you might consider adopting an unwanted animal from your local shelter. Here are five good reasons to do so:
1. Buying a dog from a pet shop is usually much more expensive than adopting and you may inadvertently be supporting inhumane breeding “mills.”
2. You’ll find a great new friend: the very nature of shelters means you’ll meet a wide variety of breeds and personalities, so you’re far more likely to find the “perfect fit” for your life who will be only too grateful to find a warm, safe home.
3. Many “pre-owned” animals are already house-trained.
4. Animal shelters often include spaying or neutering, vaccinations, and microchipping in the adoption fee.
5. The joy of knowing that you have probably saved a life.
Animal Deaths Down and Adoptions Up Amid Reforms at New York Shelters (The New York Times)
Animal Care and Control launches mobile adoption center (New York Post)
Animal Care Centers of NYC