DOOMS DAY or MORE GRIST FOR THE MILL?
The “animal shelter” bill was signed into law the other day by Mayor Bloomberg.
It tragically succeeded in repealing the 2000 law that mandated shelters in every borough – a law that two administrations had continued to ignore, since shelters were never built in Queens and Bronx. In exchange it provided $10 million dollars in funding – funding that had been squeezed from Animal Care and Control over the years so it was essentially putting it back.
A few activists showed up to the bill signing and spoke. This is the video. Click here.
The New York City animal sheltering system has been a mess since before and after the ASPCA gave up the contract in 1994. It is a complex mix of the problematic control of the Department of Health; the fear of losing the status quo; the relationship with the ASPCA; and the establishment’s refusal to admit they were wrong for all these years. Animals continue to die and no matter what has been done – throwing money at it; having 10 people from the ASPCA testify at the bill's hearing; deals made behind closed doors -- it does not make a difference.
But some cities have been successful in significantly reducing the kill numbers and increasing adoptions – Reno, Nevada, Austin, Texas, Charlottesville, Virginia – and of course Tompkins County in upstate NY – the original. They all followed the No Kill Equation – a process developed by Nathan Winograd from the No Kill Advocacy Center.
We strongly believe that the most important thing NYC should do is to invite Nathan Winograd to come to NYC to do a shelter review and analysis and to make recommendations, which they would be wise to take. To begin with, we also believe the ACC must come out from under the Department of Health. Mr. Winograd has been very critical of the NYC system and its players – people who personally do not like him and would lobby against his participation.
This would be wrong. We need to do what is best for the animals – not for hurt feelings.
The following is the No Kill Equation that has worked so well in other cities - components that must be done in a comprehensive manner
1. A feral cat TNR program
2. High volume low cost or free spay neuter – accessible and well advertised
3. Working with rescue groups in a non threatening, non punitive manner
4. Embracing volunteers in a non threatening, non punitive manner
5. Comprehensive foster program
6. Comprehensive adoption program that is accessible, well advertised and creative
7. Pet retention – dealing with behavior, expenses and apartment rental issues
8. Medical and behavior rehabilitation
9. Public relations/community involvement – make the community want to support the shelter; the community needs to be embraced – not just those with money and power as has been done in NYC, while everyone else is ignored. In other words, listen to animal activists and rescuers. Embrace the principles of democracy. Alienating animal activists and the public just because you can does not bode well for a successful shelter system.
10. No enactment of punitive mandatory spay/neuter legislation that has been shown not to work and results in higher intake and killing.
11. A compassionate director – not necessary to have shelter experience - but must be someone who is not content to regurgitate tired clichés or hide behind the myth of “too many animals, not enough homes.” One who really wants to make a difference and save lives.
The source of this is the book Redemption by NathanJ. Winograd – about “the myth of pet overpopulation and the no kill revolution in America."
This is a link to the March 31, 2011 blog by Nathan Winograd – Thinking About the Unthinkable.
Read what Winograd has to say about New York City.
This is not a third world country. Yet, the structure of government in NYC makes it seem so. The establishment and the wealthy are listened to – the people are ignored.
But we will not give up!