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Allegations of neglect at city animal shelter

November 24, 2010 11:20:10 AM PST
Insiders say animals under the care of Animal Care and Control are housed in deplorable conditions - cats stacked in small cages and dogs often not walked for days.

Undercover videos and photos show dogs wallowing in their own waste; Bed sheets soaked and soiled, cages caked with filth; Cat food mixed with kitty litter.

The videos and photos were taken by insiders working at Animal Care and Control, a nonprofit agency contracted by New York City's Department of Health to operate 3 animal shelters. They're located in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island.

"It's worse than anything you can imagine," one insider said.

We're hiding the identity of the workers because AC&C has threatened employees and volunteers with termination if they make negative comments about the organization.

WALLACE: So, these pictures and this video that we're seeing, is this typical?"
INSIDER: Absolutely, on a daily basis you can walk into the shelter and find these conditions in the places that aren't visible to the public.

"I'm not going to see the animals are suffering. None of the animals are being neglected or abused. Can we provide better care? Absolutely," Richard Gentles, development director, said.

AC&C's budget has been slashed one and a half million dollars by the Department of Health in the past two years. Staff and services have been drastically cut. Then, the volunteer program was frozen for months while it was revamped.

"The conditions are horrific. Horrific. I can't believe conditions like this actually exist," she said. "Now, with the budget cuts, there are no workers to take the dogs out."

We obtained dog-walking schedules that show dogs not getting out for as long as 3 days.

WALLACE: So wait. It's not unusual to have a dog not being walked for three days?
INSIDER: Not unusual.

"We want all of the dogs to be walked every day," Gentles said, admitting that it does not happen. "It's not acceptable. That's why we want volunteers to come into the volunteer program."

For the moment, workers claim if dogs aren't sick when they come in to the shelter, they soon will be.

INSIDER: The conditions are a perfect storm for breeding disease.

Like kennel cough. Once dogs get it, they're eligible for the euthanasia list. It's no better, workers claim, for cats, which are often stacked for hours in cramped intake crates.

INSIDER: We're talking about lots and lots of nursing or pregnant mothers with their newborn babies sitting in disgusting conditions.

The bottom line AC&C desperately needs donations.

If you want to donate to Animal Care and Control, you can visit www.nycacc.org or e-mail donate@nyacc.org. If you want to specify donations, you can designate Maddie's Fund for medical supplies or the Animal Care fund for equipment and supplies.

There is another great organization called Pets for Life NYC, which is a surrender prevention program dedicated to helping people resolve issues that lead them to surrender their pets to animal shelters. For more information, please visit www.humanesociety/org/pflnyc.

If you have a tip about this or any other issue you'd like investigated, please give our tipline a call at 877-TIP-NEWS. You may also e-mail us at the.investigators@abc.com and follow Jim Hoffer on Twitter at twitter.com/nycinvestigates


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