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Come on and Rescue Me

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The CACC's adoption services staff, run by Jody Jones, operates a special rescue program, a safety net before the last resort, euthanasia. Animals are given to a wide variety of independent rescuers (every purebred, for instance, has a group of devotees) and private organizations, including the well-known North Shore Animal League and the ASPCA.

Smaller groups, such as B.A.R.C. (Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition) and City Critters Incorporated, also take animals. B.A.R.C. is in Williamsburg (253 Wythe Avenue; 718-486-7489). The Critters dogs and cats are available for adoption at the Barking Zoo pet store (238 Third Avenue, near 19th Street; 228-4848) on Sunday afternoons, and seven days a week at Metropets (594 Ninth Avenue, near 42nd Street; 757-2924), or by appointment (691-2053).

These organizations -- and there are many others -- are run on shoestring budgets by dedicated volunteers who generally work out of their own homes. They must raise thousands of dollars annually. The animals are vetted and sheltered until they are carefully placed in new homes, even if that takes years. Rescuers do not euthanize unless an animal is terminally ill and suffering.

The CACC cuts off rescuers who become notorious for taking in more animals than they can afford to care for, but there are also many rescuers who reject the agency.

"When we get there," a cat rescuer told me in a phone interview, "the animals we have come for aren't ready, or they can't be found, and they try to give us a completely different batch -- after they make us wait for two hours and then charge us $15 for every animal we take."

The animals given to rescuers are not sterilized and are always in need of medical attention. (Virtually every animal that goes through the system ends up with an upper-respiratory infection, or kennel cough, which is easily cured with antibiotics.) Rescuers have enormous veterinarian bills.

"What they don't realize," says Holly Staver of City Critters, "is that we don't need animals. We take them from the CACC to help them out."


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