Monday, November 9, 2009

Dark Days in New York City

Very dark day for animals in New York City.

First, there is the story all over the local news about a woman in Long Island who allegedly stole neighbor's pets, tortured and killed the animals and buried the bodies in her back yard. The woman was reported and turned in by one of her own sons who referred to the home as a "concentration camp for animals." Several live dogs in poor condition were confiscated from the home, in addition to numerous dead animals dug up from the property.

So far, the woman is only charged with misdemeanor animal abuse and is already out of jail. Depending upon what autopsies on the dead animal reveal, the woman could potentially be charged with a felony.

The reason for highlighting this story is to illustrate the actual responsibility in owning pets, one of which is to insure to the best of one's abilities, the animal's SAFETY at all times.

Opening one's doors and allowing the family cat to wander all over the neighborhood is NOT looking after the pet's safety. Nor, is leaving the family dog unattended in an insecure yard.

One of the neighbors of the accused woman complains that over the past year, "Three of our family pets have disappeared!" (one Chihuahua mix and two cats).

One has to wonder why this family did not get a clue after the FIRST pet "disappeared" and learned to keep the other animals inside and safely protected?

Whether the animals were killed by cars, ended up dying as "strays" in the local pound or were actually stolen and killed by the mentally deranged and criminal neighbor really doesn't make a difference to the pets who presumably are now dead -- the main cause being owner failure to properly protect.

There is, of course no law mandating that pet owners are required to properly protect pets for the animals' safety. But, if we truly love and care about our animals, then safety should be a top priority as it is with our children. We need to consider the world we live in. While most normal people would not deliberately harm a cat or dog, there are always those who may, out of maliciousness, neighbor dispute or mental defect, hurt or kill a wandering pet cat or steal an unprotected dog from in front of a store or in a back yard.

Safety and protection are not things to be assumed or taken for granted. We actually have to take responsibility for them.

The other reason its a "dark day for NYC animals" are the Euth lists from our city shelter system today.

45 cats and more than 20 dogs, including several small dogs and numerous non-pits. A number of animals on the death list for admitted (lack of) "space."

As noted in this blog numerous times, it is rare that the shelters actually have to admit to killing adoptable animals for "space" because almost every cat and dog entering the overcrowded, poorly ventilated and inadequate NYC Animal Control shelter system is destined to become sick within days of arrival.

Thus, the most common reason for putting down otherwise healthy cats and dogs is (shelter acquired) "illness." (Usually treatable Upper Respiratory Infections.)

The other reason commonly cited for destroying animals is "Behavior."

However, it is so difficult to properly assess animals for "behavior" in an overcrowded, stressful and overly taxed city shelter system that the "Behavior" label has become almost meaningless in terms of "evaluating" or guessing how the cats and dogs might behave in a home situation.

Fact is, most animals abandoned to or first arriving at city shelters are frightened, nervous, insecure, confused and disoriented. Many dogs and cats, if allowed time and a fairly peaceful environment will calm down after a few days in which a "Behavior Test" might hold some value. Unfortunately, due to the crowding and lack of space, most dogs arriving at the AC&C are "SAFER tested" only a day or two after arriving. Test results under those stress circumstances need to be seriously suspect and quite frankly, have little if any value at all.

It is this writer's view that the "Behavior Evaluations" as currently conducted in our city shelters serve more as palatable excuse for putting animals down than actual predictors of behavior and temperament in a home.

After all, it is far more acceptable to the public and the press to say we are putting animals down for poor "behavior" than to admit we are destroying thousands of cats and dogs a year simply because the city doesn't want to build more shelters to properly care for, accommodate and correctly evaluate the animals.

I called the New Hope number this morning in attempt to pull two of the smaller dogs off the kill list. But, I called after the specified and required time of 6 AM.

I have to hope that the dogs were either pulled by another rescue or that my call came in time to save them.

But, even if the latter case, the fact is, I don't have immediate foster or potential adoptive homes to send the dogs to. My only option would be boarding and we already have a number of dogs in boarding for many months.

Another criticism of the way our city animal shelter system is currently operating:

They put far too much pressure on and rely almost exclusively on animal rescue groups to "solve" a problem that the public creates and city officials have dismally failed to humanely and properly address.

We (ideally) need fully functioning and humane animal control shelters in every borough -- or even just ONE in any borough of NYC.

Sadly, we don't even have that. -- PCA


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