Death at the hands of the City Agency...NYC
- Death at Hands of the City Agency
The following excerpts are from the article:Why are 3000 adoptable
animals being killed each month in NYC?
by Elizabeth Hess
October 19, 1998 issue of New York Magazine In the inelegant lobby
of the Center for Animal Care and Control, a large animal shelter on
East 110th Street, a woman is holding a puppy, about 6 months old,
on a frayed rope. The woman looks tired, like she was up half the
night, while the puppy is bouncy, ready to climb Mount Everest. "I
just found him in the street," she tells an intake clerk at the
counter. This is a line he has heard so many times before; it
probably pops up in his dreams. The dog leans against the woman's
legs as if he owns them. "What are you going to do with him?" she
asks."If we examine him and find him suitable for adoption, he'll be
available," the clerk says, without looking away from his
computer. "Otherwise, he'll be euthanized."
The woman freaks. "You're going to kill my dog?" she shouts. "How
could you kill this puppy?" The lobby is full of people who are
waiting in line to surrender the dogs they also just happened to
have found. "Hey -- you gonna kill my dog too?" one man yells at the
clerk. The word kill cuts through the air. The clerk remains
unruffled, focusing on the woman with the puppy. "We will only
euthanize the puppy if he's not suitable for adoption," he repeats.
The woman regards the dog for about five seconds before deciding to
surrender him. She signs a form, turns briskly, and marches out. She
doesn't look back. Odds are overwhelming that the puppy, a pit bull
with cropped ears â" a signal that the dog may have been bred to
fight -- will be put down as soon as the next shift begins its
routine, assembly-line euthanasia. The CACC rarely adopts out pit
bulls, especially ones with cropped ears. Many of the dogs arrive
abused and scarred from street fights, and the "people who you
wouldn't even give a mosquito to are the only adopters who want
The CACC is filled with poodles and purebred terriers, too. On any
day of the week, there are more than 100 dogs, not to mention 75 to
100 cats, available at five shelters, one in each of the city's
boroughs. On recent tours through the Manhattan and Brooklyn
facilities, I met Maine coon cats, lilac-point Siamese kittens, a
couple of Russian blues, and countless tabbies, calicoes, tuxedos,
and tigers. I saw a toy poodle, a West Highland terrier, a
longhaired dachshund, two cocker spaniels, a sheltie, two beagles,
two German shepherds, and a 5-month-old Rhodesian Ridgeback, all up
for adoption. I couldn't count the picture-perfect shaggy terriers,
for which I have a terrible weakness. There were far too many
Rottweilers and Chihuahuas; a blond, a black, and a red Chow; three
thin Dobermans; four adult boxers; an energetic golden retriever; a
yellow Labrador; and a few spotted hounds. All these animals, along
with myriad mixed-breeds, are there for public viewing seven days a
Yet the CACC gets few visitors. Most New Yorkers who want to adopt
pets don't even know it exists.
The CACC -- a four-year-old agency created when the ASPCA withdrew
from the arduous job of animal control in the city -- does virtually
nothing to promote the fact that animals are up for adoption at its
shelters. But that's only the beginning of the bad news.
Of the 4,502 dogs and cats that entered the CACC's five facilities
in June (the most recent month for which figures were made
available), 938 were adopted out -- and 3,388 were killed. Most
adoptions are to rescue agencies in March, for instance, only 18 of
220 adoptions in Manhattan were to walk-ins (2,905 animals were
euthanized). A total of about 40,000 a year is put down. Conditions
in this system are appalling in this quality-of-life-obsessed era:
Dogs sit in their own feces, most of them stacked in small cages.
Large dogs can have trouble standing up or turning around. Sick dogs
and cats often go untreated
This is an underfunded, chaotic agency that is light-years behind
the rest of the country.
The CACC has not even made it easy for New Yorkers to see the
animals, let alone adopt them. As for lost pets that get caught in
New York's Dickensian system, many are in dire trouble (are
euthanized, with little effort to locate their owners.)
"The goal is just to euthanize as quickly as possible. And make sure
the mayor's reputation isn't tarnished."
First-time visitors will be painfully aware that "the wards," as
they are called, are narrow, dirty, and badly ventilated. Cats do
better than dogs at the CACC because they can survive in small
spaces. Dogs are stacked in three-by-three-foot cages, forced to
eat, sleep, and defecate in the same small area. The staff has no
time for bathing and exercising them.
"Look at that dog," I say. "He's too big for his cage. He can't
move." There's a huge bridled dog, maybe a mastiff mix, which can't
turn around or stand up.
Strays are kept in a separate ward while they are being assessed. In
New York State, they must be held for five business days before they
are put down or put up for adoption; the city has a special
dispensation to evaluate and invariably euthanize -- strays after 48
hours. These dogs look worse than those in the adoption ward do.
There are numerous pit bulls, many of which look as if they've been
through a war. One particularly sad dog covered in scars is
unconscious; the police brought him in, having shot him with
tranquilizer darts. When he wakes up, if there's no legal dispute
over his destiny, he will be put down. The staff spends most of its
time caring for animals that will be killed.
While Gonzalez was still with the CACC, a kennel worker was fired
for hosing down a cage with steaming hot water without having first
removed the animal. "He had done it several times," said Gonzalez.
The worker was using ear protectors and couldn't hear the dog crying
out in pain.
"I would come in the morning and see kittens with goop dripping from
their eyes and noses," she told me. "They were freezing to death.
The wards are either saunas or freezers."
In the new sections, dogs and cats are housed in the same wards --
taboo in most shelters because it's far too traumatic for the cats.
The CACC has purchased glistening, stainless steel three-by-three-
foot cages -- which are triple-stacked. To be placed in the top
ones, dogs must be lifted four or five feet off the ground. Scared
dogs that keep to the back of a top cage are removed by lasso. Staff
members have told me that dogs often get their legs broken on cage
doors while being taken out. According to Batalla, "If a worker
breaks a dog's leg, the dog is euthanized."
More than 100 animals are put down every day citywide during the
summer crunch. In Manhattan, animals are selected for euthanasia
twice a day.
And it gets to people. One kennel worker took home a puppy scheduled
for euthanasia and bottle-fed it for a few days. The pup turned out
to be a lost pet and was returned to its owner; the worker was
"The city is covering up a despicable program, financed by tax
The following excerpts were extracted from the article:
"City Overwhelmed By Strays of Execution"
By Susan Edelman
October 19, 1998 issue of New York Magazine. Homeless dogs and cats
are destroyed at the chilling rate of 125 a day on a grim assembly
line of death run by the city's Center for Animal Care and Control.
Many young, healthy, adoptable pets are "put down," officials admit,
to make room for the daily influx of up to 200 stray, confiscated or
The numbers involved are staggering: The CACC took in 63,449 animals
last year -- 12 percent more than the previous year. Most -- 56,392 -
- were dogs and cats. Three-fourths of the dogs and cats -- 42,924
â" were destroyed. The CACC spends $158,000 a year to cart away and
cremate animal carcasses but just $14,000 a year on "public
education" -- which includes promoting adoption and spay-neuter
programs that could help curb animal overpopulation and cut the
death toll. Only a fraction of the stray and abandoned dogs and cats
CACC workers say it's no picnic killing pets, and they insist
they're doing the best they can to manage a crisis. Last year,
nearly 20,000 pets were dropped off by owners, despite warnings they
might be destroyed.
A typical victim of the space crunch was Max, a golden
retriever/German shepherd mix whom rested silently and peered at
visitors while his neighbors panted and barked crazily. Someone had
scribbled on the intake card on Max's cage: "great dog, friendly and
sociable." The notation kept Max alive for more than a week, but it
wasn't enough to spare him from the euthanasia needle.
The following excerpts are extracted from the article:
Four 'Tails' of Woe
By Susan Edelman
October 19, 1998 issue of New York Magazine A lethal injection of
the anesthetic pentobarbital is the end of the line for most animals
taken in by the city's Center for Animal Care and Control. "It's
very fast and very painless," said Faith Elliott, CACC spokeswoman.
(Painless for whom? If you see the animals waiting their turn, the
fear and pain of suffering are obvious.)
Daily, shelter employees decide which animals will die to make room
for more. Others are dispatched when they catch a cold or contagious
disease, which can spread like a plague through a ward's rows and
stacks of cages. "We don't have the money for the treatment. We
don't have the space for the treatment," said Denise Brown, a
Manhattan shelter director. "We have no choice."
Volunteers and others who have been around when animals are killed
at the CACC's East 110th Street shelter - several hours at a time,
early morning and late afternoon - paint a "horrible scene" of
howling dogs and "terrified" cats. "Dogs have an acute sense of
smell. A lot of them sense what's going to happen," said Patty
Adjamine, who is director of New Yorkers for Companion Animals. She
worked at the shelter in 1995 and 1996. "Most of the dogs have to be
dragged by a catch pole. Some of them fight like crazy."
When their time runs out - sometimes the day they arrive - doomed
dogs are yanked from their cages and hooked by nooses to the wall
outside the killing room and taken in one at a time. "I've seen dogs
shaking, whining crying. Sometimes they pee or poop in the hallway
just out of fear," Adjamine said.
The dead animals are piled in 4-foot -high bins, rolled into a
freezer and picked up on weekdays by trucks from the Pet Crematory
Agency in West Babylon, L.I., said manager Michael Mytko. His
company operates two animal-cremation ovens eight hours a day -
burning 600 pounds of dogs and cats an hour - for the CACC and other
The company is paid about $158,000 a year by the city Sanitation
Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living
creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of
worthless human lives." -Albert Schweitzer
"Never believe that animals suffer less than humans. Pain is the
same for them that it is for us. Even worse, because they cannot
help themselves." Dr. Louis J. Camuti
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by
the way its animals are treated. I hold that, the more helpless a
creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the
cruelty of man." Mahatma Ghandi