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09/26/06 UPDATE: Read the speech given on 09/22/06 at the AC&C Board meeting - versions doc html pdf


Since the turn of the 20th Century, when it became customary to keep domesticated dogs and cats, government has been unable to provide any support to people who found themselves forced to give up their animals due to personal reasons. The only service government was able to provide was to accept the animal and euthanize it. This was considered the "humane" way of "solving" this problem for the past 100 years.When the humane and governmental communities began to finally collaborate on truly "solving" the pet overpopulation problem instead of simply putting a bigger and bigger band aid on the continually escalating crisis (as evidenced by the increase of the animal control budget in New York City from $725,000 in 1974 to the currently allocated $7 million), amazing results bared fruit. One was the increase in adoptions, by as much as 100%. Another was a decrease in euthanasia rates, by as much as 15%. Preventative programs such as mandatory spay and neuter, microchipping, software based management of the animal control program, the internet's immediate dissemination of information all contributed to these quick statistical successes. However, it became obvious that something was still missing. Historically very little support has been provided to animal guardians. When the human family of the pet animal goes through a bumpy time in life, it too often leads to the animal being surrendered to the municipal animal shelter, where most animals get euthanized.


The Safety Net Program was thus born. Its goal is to prevent surrenders by solving the issue which is causing the pet guardian to take the drastic action of surrendering the beloved family pet. How can this be done you ask? By a variety of ways. For instance, the pet owner who is moving may be relocating to a new residence for a transitory period of time. If super low-cost boarding was available for the cost of a sandwich a day, the pet owner who truly does not wish to surrender their pet may be willing to board the animal for a few months until the permanent new home, which does allow pets, is available. Or perhaps the person who comes to animal control with animal in hand, because the landlord is suddenly prohibiting the animal from living in the apartment, is unaware that having kept the pet more than 90 days he/she has gained the legal right to keep the pet lifetime without any retaliatory actions. In such a case free legal representation may go a long way in empowering fearful tenants of possible eviction. Or the person who has assumed l that the constant sneezing of a child in the house is as a result of an allergy to the family pet. In this case, perhaps a free allergy test for pets could medically determine whether or not allergy is really the issue. And even the person who brings an animal to the AC&C because the animal is sick, and spending hundreds of dollars at the veterinarian is simply not a budgetary option, may keep the animal if a low cost option was available. Providing an emergency veterinary loan, which is re-payable at a low $10 per month rate, without any interest at all, gets the animal the treatment it needs so it could continue to live with its guardian instead of causing the city to spend $175 to accept, process, and euthanize or find a home for it.



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