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The Doggie-Doom Disparity

An animal-euthanasia-free NYC is further off than promised. Let the growling begin.

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The mayor’s alliance for NYC’s Animals, a pet project of Mayor Bloomberg’s, is an umbrella group of rescue organizations created in December 2002 with the stated goal of “No Kill 2008”: eliminating euthanasia of healthy animals in the city by next year. It’s not going to happen. The city killed 17,966 animals in 2006 and is not on track to be anywhere near zero in ’08. Now there’s backtracking on the 2008 agenda, which was trumpeted in a press release when the alliance was created. “That was never a policy of the mayor,” says Bloomberg spokesman Jason Post. “The story of euthanasia in the Bloomberg administration is a happy one. Euthanasia is down 37 percent since 2003.” Ed Sayres, the president of the ASPCA, the alliance’s primary spay/neuter organization, says, “Our timeline is 2010.” Jane Hoffman, the president of the Mayor’s Alliance, says, “The goal really has been 2015. We have never used 2008 as a start date.” (On the alliance’s Website, Hoffman stated otherwise: “In December 2002, City Hall and the Mayor’s Alliance signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding. The goal is to create a no-kill city by the year 2008.”)

So what happened? Animal workers unanimously point to former Animal Care and Control director Ed Boks, who served from 2003 to ’05. One alliance member snipes, “Boks’s programs had catchy names, but they had no substance and weren’t sustainable.” Boks is remembered for his attempt to address the overwhelming number of pit bulls (over 6,000 per year) coming into ACC by renaming the breed “New Yorkies”—much to the ire of Yorkshire-terrier owners. “It’s unfortunate that in the animal-welfare arena, it’s so easy to throw stones rather than take responsibility,” says Boks. “The problem isn’t that the programs failed but that the city failed the programs.” The city declined to renew Boks’s 2006 contract. Boks’s replacement, the well-liked Mary Martin, won’t be solving things either—she’ll be resigning in March. “New York City is a tough place to work,” says Hoffman.

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