In 1894, the ASPCA agreed to take charge of the "care and control" of NYC's homeless dogs and cats. To facilitate this, NY State passed a special law allowing mayors of major cities the power to designate an agency to deal with "lost, strayed or homeless animals."
In 1972, the ASPCA's then board member Gretchen Wyler sued the ASPCA for financial irregularities and cruelty to animals. The ASPCA settled with Wyler and, for the first time, sought financial aid from NYC. In 1976, Mayor of New York Abe Beame assigned the City's Department of Health (DOH) to administer the ASPCA and set the annual budget.
In 1994, the ASPCA formally resigned from performing care and control services claiming that operating a "high kill" shelter was tarnishing its reputation, and that the city's funding was inadequate.
Mayor Giuliani's office responded by creating the "Center for Animal Care and Control" (CACC), a 501(c)(3) entity, to assume responsibility for the City's homeless pet population. While ACC is technically a stand-alone nonprofit corporation, DOH controls every aspect of ACC's existence: drafting its by-laws, selecting its executive directors and directors, setting its budget, and imposing various requirements. Despite its nominally private status, the ACC is subject to FOIA, in part because it is a "volunteer organization on which a local government relies for the performance of an essential public service" and the City of New York (in the form of DOH) "exercises a great deal of control over its operations and financial affairs," including, but not limited to, the composition of the ACC's board of directors (see Van Ness v ACC, Index No. 103410/97 [Sup. Ct. NY Cty 1999]). (Also see Shelter Reform Action Committee for history.)
The DOH mandate is to safeguard the "public" (i.e., human) health.
The current contract between NYCACC and DOH is visible at: http://www.shelterreform.org/files/2010AugContract.pdf.
Per the contract, DOH has "the power and duty to administer Departmental programs relating to the impact of animals on public health," and ACC was created, in part, "for the public purpose of seizing animals deemed to be a threat to the public health, providing and operating facilities to shelter, hold, examine, test, treat, spay, neuter, place for adoption, assure humane care and disposition of and otherwise control animals which the [ACC] has seized or accepted for shelter" (2011 contract, p. 1).
Funding: DOH funds ACC. ACC will receive $35,793,710 for the five-year period from July 2010 to July 2015, or $7,158,742 per year.
Mayor's Alliance, Maddie's Fund, and New Hope:
Please see the FAQ for this information.
ACC Board Members and Titles
Dr. Thomas Farley, Chairman (also the Commissioner of DOH)
Adrian Benepe, Director
John M. B. O'Connor, Director
David Colon, Director
Patrick Nolan, Director
Bruce Doniger, Treasurer
Jay Kuhlman, DVM, Secretary
Executive Team Members
Julie Bank, Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.org; p: 212-442-2059; f: 212-442-2066)
Dr. Stephanie Janeczko, Director of Operations (resigned June 13, 2011)
Risa Weinstock, Director of Administration/General Counsel
Richard Gentles, Director of Development and Communications (email@example.com)
The above individuals can also be reached by mail:
Animal Care & Control of NYC
11 Park Place, Suite 805
New York, NY 10007
ACC holds board meetings that are open to the public approximately twice per year, in January and June.
However, controversy ensued at the last meeting (June 21, 2011) concerning, among other things, the fact that ACC turned away members of the public.
Dog and cat statistics according to ACC were as follows for the period from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011:
Total intakes: 32,396
Total adoptions ("includes animals transferred to New Hope partners"): 20,893
Total killed (this does not include "owner"-requested kills, kills for "illness," "injury," or "aggression"*): 8,271
Total returned to "owner": 1,495
*ACC notes that it "only performs Owner Requested Euthanasia to relieve the suffering of a pet when the pet's life has seriously deteriorated due to illness or injury and no other remedy is possible. Aggressive animals are also euthanized. Healthy, well tempered pets are not euthanized on demand."
Thus, there were 1,737 dogs and cats taken in who were unaccounted for in these statistics. Presumably these animals were surrendered by guardians who requested that they be killed, were "aggressive," or were ill or injured. It is unclear how ACC determines what kind of illness or injury should result in a death sentence. It is also unclear how ACC determines animal temperament.
For "others" (i.e., animals other than dogs or cats), the figures are as follows:
Total intakes: 2,482
Total adoptions: 1,584
Total killed (this does not include "owner"-requested kills, kills for "illness," "injury," or "aggression"**): 576
Total returned to "owner": 46
**Thus, there were 276 animals other than dogs or cats taken in who were unaccounted for in these statistics. Presumably these animals were surrendered by guardians who requested that they be killed, were "aggressive," or were ill or injured. Again, It is unclear how ACC determines what kind of illness or injury should result in a death sentence, and it is unclear how ACC determines animal temperament.
Other Recent Controversy:
In addition to the controversy surrounding the lack of access to ACC's most recent board meeting, ACC has come under fire recently in several areas:
Allegations of neglect: Several months ago, WABC Eyewitness Investigation carried a story about the deplorable conditions in the Manhattan ACC.
Budget cuts: DOH cut ACC's budget by about $1.5 million dollars this year. The reporter for this article noted: "New York City is downright miserly when it comes to funding for Animal Care and Control. It allocates one of the lowest per capita rates in the nation for animal control—85 cents per resident. National animal control recommendations suggest 4 to 7 dollars per capita to provide appropriate animal services." (Id.) As a result of these budget cuts, ACC has terminated their lost-and-found system (so they will no longer help reunite guardians with their lost pets) and reduced their field operations, leaving strays and abandoned animals to fend for themselves in the city streets. According to Shelter Reform Action Committee (SRAC), these services were supposed to be "mandatory" under ACC's contract with the city.
However, according to SRAC and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, budget cuts are only the symptom of a deeper, structural problem with ACC: the fact that it is funded and administered by DOH. Stringer notes: "AC&C is controlled by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, an agency whose core focus is the welfare of people, not animals. This institutional limitation causes AC&C's budget to shrink every year. AC&C and its small, seven-member board lacks both the independence and fund-raising capabilities that would help it fulfill its important mission." (emphasis added) (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-stringer/protecting-new-yorks-anim_b_928513.html) He and SRAC advocate a "top to bottom" restructuring of ACC so that it can fulfill its mission. Unsurprisingly, DOH responded unfavorably to Stringer's analysis and proposal (http://www.shelterreform.org/ACCvsCPConservancy.html).
ACC's killing (AKA "euthanasia") policies: As noted above, ACC excludes several categories of animals from its kill tally. While this makes ACC's kill rate look less onerous, what it means is that many animals' deaths are completely invisible to the public. Recently, the Examiner shed light on another excluded category--near full term animals. The story concerned the aborting of eight near full term puppies during a spay operation. The puppies were apparently removed from the mother alive, and then killed. The reporter notes:"Everyone needs to understand this: aborting puppies this late in Ginger's pregnancy means that each of these eight puppies was old enough to survive on its own. That means the ACC cut Ginger open, took out each of the eight squirming puppies, one by one, and gave each puppy the same injection that they use to kill grown dogs every other day of the year. Those are eight lives who would have had rescue groups fighting to take them. Instead, they are eight forgotten bodies that the ACC will not include in its daily tally of killed dogs." (emphasis in original)
Volunteer and employee policies: ACC's volunteer policies are also controversial. ACC has come under fire recently for terminating volunteers who express disagreement with the organization. Additionally, SRAC notes that the volunteer program is poorly run and does little either ensure that volunteers will be prepared and effective. Nor does ACC's treatment of employees appear much better.
What's Next? Proposed Shelter Reform Legislation:
The COMPANION ANIMAL ACCESS AND RESCUE BILL (CAARA) is proposed legislation which would, if passed, allow "qualified" rescue groups to pull animals from a shelter (such as the ACC). Equally important, CAARA would also set out basic minimum standards of care for shelter animals. CAARA was introduced in the NY Senate in May, 2011, by Assemblyperson Micah Kellner under bill # A7312-2011. You can read the text of the bill here: http://m.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/A7312-2011.
As noted above, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has called for ACC to be decoupled from the administrative umbrella of DOH, and restructured "into a quasi-independent, not-for-profit with a large, diverse board that can bring both new resources and new expertise to the city's animal welfare system."