April 16, 2011

Mayor Michael Bloomberg City Hall New York, NY 10007 Dear Mayor Bloomberg: As a taxpayer, animal lover, and voter, I am outraged by the City Council’s failure to advocate for the welfare of homeless animals in New York City, and particularly disappointed with Speaker Christine Quinn. I am writing today to ask that immediate action be taken on the following issues that directly affect the quality of life for millions of companion animals and the people who care about them. Animal Care and Control (AC&C) of New York City, which takes in over 40,000 animals each year, is currently facing an unprecedented crisis. After 15 years of being underfunded by the DOH, the AC&C now suffers under draconian budget cuts, which far outpace any other entity dependent on City funding. Animals are languishing in disease ridden cages, not being walked, held, petted, or socialized, shut off from public view, and being denied even basic medical treatment. The shelter has “run out” of canned food at least twice in the past six months. Staff numbers have been slashed, so that maintaining an acceptable level of hygiene and care becomes impossible. Volunteer attendance is too low to close the gap, and local rescuers are scrambling to carry the weight of a system that literally starts killing companion animals the moment they walk through the door. This, while the Department of Health shamelessly violates NYC Administrative code § 17-801, which requires New York City to build full-service shelters in each of the five boroughs. There are currently no full-service animal shelters in the Bronx or in Queens, despite overcrowding that leads to nightly euthanasia lists packed with adoptable animals general public doesn’t know about. Are these borough residents not worth the same service you provide to Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island? In addition, the Council never challenged the DOH’s cuts to the AC&C’s budget. This allowed the AC&C’s new Executive Director (with the DOH’s hearty approval) to jettison what had been previously “mandated” services, such as by (a) eliminating its Lost and Found reporting system that worked to reunite owners with their lost pets, (b) dramatically curtailing the AC&C’s field operations by no longer rescuing thousands of cats from the streets, and (c) closing down its telephone system to calls from the public. NYC now spends less than 84 cents per capita on animal control. Experts from leading humane organizations suggest $4-$8/per capita as a minimum. New York City now has the dishonor of having one of the most poorly funded municipal animal programs in the United States. Is this the best we can do as the “Greatest City in the World”? These animals are not just unwanted waste or “mangy strays.” These shelters are filled with animals whose owners failed them, by either tragic circumstance or irresponsibility, and

since New York City has helped create the problem with hostile housing laws and lack of humane education in schools (thanks to Speaker Quinn, who derailed a proposed bill), New York City has an obligation to address the problem with progressive, life affirming solutions. Please (a) ask Comptroller Liu to commence an audit of Animal Care and Control, and (b) commence your own investigation of the Department of Health’s irresponsible and shameful stewardship of the ACC. AC&C Board members should all be replaced with people who are qualified, motivated, can attract needed donations, and have a genuine passion for animal welfare. Animal shelters and agencies like North Shore Animal League and the ASPCA have Directors on their boards who know how to bring in funds and guarantee the basic comfort and health of animals, and the conditions of their shelters show it. Why should AC&C be saddled with bureaucratic flunkies and rubberstamps for Mayor Bloomberg and the DOH? AC&C is supposed to be an independent charity, but it’s simply an ignored stepchild of the DOH. You can change that. You can demand proper leadership and management of the AC&C. The animals do not vote, but I do, and I’ll be paying attention. Sincerely,

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