Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reform of Animal Care & Control

It's been a while since my last post but this NY 1 article/video caught my eye.

The City really needs to do some different and creative to get in front of this issue.  The status quo of a crowded shelters with long euthanasia lists for healthy and adoptable animals is just not acceptable.  In these times of budgetary constraints animals, not surpringly, lose out to other priorities, like not laying off teachers or police officers, or closing down more firehouses.  That being said, this doesn't mean that we, as a City of people (not just as a government) can't do more with less, and do more by doing what we do better.  Aside from establishing ACC as an independent or non-profit agency so it doesn't get marginalized within a large agency with other major priorities, the City can do more to involve people in helping the animals through better public education and providing incentives.

A strong early intervention program targetted into the city's schools, both public and private, could go a long way to preventing the proliferation of animal births due to uneducated or irresponsible pet owners, and to reduce the continued reliance by city residents on pet stores and puppy mills that mass produce pets while needy animals are euthanized. Every pet purchase is an opportunity lost to ease the dangerous overcrowding of our shelters and rescues.  The City should take at least a symbolic stand against puppy mills and the pets stores who support them.  One way that this could be done, and which would be similar to what the City has done to stores that sell tobacco, is to require stores that sell animals to prominently post a sign that advises customers to consider adopting a pet from ACC or other rescue groups, and to have brochures on hand for customers that give them contact information for such agencies.

The City should also incentivize a strong foster and adoption program by providing city income tax deductions, or even a standard credit, for foster and adoption expenses associated with shelter animals.  Such a law should make expenses of caring for a pet (food & medical care) tax deductible for several years for up to two pets.  This would encourage responsible adoption of pets and help ease crowding in our shelters.  It would also probably pay for itself, at least to some extent, through savings to ACC.

If we get more creative on this issue, and more active, we can do a lot more to help these animals by creating a more capable system that taps into the tremendous resources and compassion of the City's millions of residents.