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Euthanasia at NYC Animal Care & Control

December 17, 2010 2:38:31 AM PST
There's new controversy surrounding the city-contracted animal shelter, Animal Care and Control.

Eyewitness News recently reported on allegations of widespread neglect, and now, there is evidence that adoptable animals are being killed on a daily basis because of overcrowding and budget cuts by the City's Department of Health.

Kimmie the cat was just hours away from being killed, and her litter of unborn kittens was scheduled to die with her.

Thankfully, Darcy Baia of Mahopac, New York came to their rescue.

"So you took her to the vet, and the vet said?" Eyewitness News Investigative reporter Sarah Wallace asked.

"The vet said she's perfectly healthy," Baia said.

Kimmie, a stray, had ended up on the euthanasia list at New York City's Animal Care and Control, a nonprofit charity, contracted by the Department of Health to operate three shelters, in Harlem, Brooklyn and Staten Island.

"She was sneezing and had a cold and they kill for that. They were going to kill her and her babies and she was full term," Baia said.

Animals are routinely killed for upper respiratory infections that they often get in the shelter.

They're fine when they arrive.

Eyewitness News recently obtained undercover video showing widespread, disgusting conditions, as one worker put it.

Tina's capital crime was a limp.

The pit bull mix was also on the euthanasia list at AC&C before being adopted by Ann Cassano of Canarsie, Brooklyn.

"When I took her to my vet, she checked out completely and she was fine. I mean the idea that she was going to be killed because of this limp? It breaks my heart," Cassano said.

Critics charge that animals are often mislabeled as diseased or bad to justify killing them.

Charlie supposedly had a temper problem.

He ended up rescued and placed with the Stern family of Hoboken.

The bottom line is that AC&C doesn't have enough space for all the animals it takes in and doesn't have enough staff to care for them.

The Department of Health has slashed the budget $1.5 million in the past two years alone.

"How do you respond to critics who say that DOH is not concerned with the care of animals?" Sarah Wallace asked.

"They're patently wrong. We're deeply concerned about the welfare of animals and we're also concerned about protecting people from animals and the shelter system exists for both purposes," said Dan Kass, of the Department of Health.

"When there is evidence that adoptable animals are being killed on a daily basis, do you think that's acceptable?" Sarah Wallace asked.

"No, unfortunately the city is responsible for all the activities for people who own pets who don't manage them well," Kass said.

New York City is now supposed to have a full-service animal shelter in every borough, which would certainly help with the space issue; but the city is appealing the law mandating that additional shelters be built in the Bronx and Queens.

"The law has required the city of New York to build two shelters?" Wallace asked.

"I'm not going to comment on litigation right now. We don't have, the city doesn't have the resources," Kass said.

Jane Hoffman oversees a coalition of rescue groups trying desperately to get animals saved and placed in adoptive homes-using private funds.

"We have about 40,000 animals going in and if you have less staff to take care of them, you have less of a budget to take care of them, bad things are going to happen," Hoffman said.

"Treatable animals are still being killed," Wallace said.

"Yes, they will die," Hoffman said.

It's largely because of rescuers that animals are being adopted, not directly thru AC&C which has cut its services so dramatically.

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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