If it can make it there, it can make it anywhere
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 1993:
NEW YORK, N.Y.––Richard Avanzino of the
San Francisco SPCA is quick to point out that he hasn’t
announced his plan to end population control euthanasia
as a blueprint for anyone anywhere else. He explains
carefully that it is intended as an experiment, taking
advantage of the unique conditions in San Francisco, and
that other cities should in turn learn by the San Francisco
experience before attempting anything similar.
Nonetheless, there could be implications for
New York City. Acknowledging the example of the
SFSPCA, the American SPCA announced last April that
it would cease providing animal control service to New
York City in November 1994, exactly 100 years after it
took on the job. Like the SFSPCA, the ASPCA will then
focus upon arranging adoptions, neutering, humane edu-
cation, and improving landlord/pet keeper relations.
The demographics of New York City and San
Francisco are comparable. New York City has a popula-
tion density of 23,700 people per square mile, the most in
the U.S., 59% of whom belong to racial minorities, and
per capita income of $22,150. San Francisco has the fifth
greatest population density in the U.S., at 15,500 per
square mile, 55% of whom belong to racial minorities,
and per capita income of $22,450. New York City has .42
pets per resident, 15,432 per square mile; San Francisco
has .53, 8,373 per square mile.
Despite the stunning pet population density,
New York does not appear to have a remarkable number
of homeless animals. New Yorkers for Companion
Animals recently rescued 28 cats and six dogs in a nine-
month concerted effort to capture all homeless animals on
two representative blocks of Harlem. Assuming the num-
ber of animals NYCA missed roughly equals the number
of animals from other blocks they caught, and projecting
the findings to the 4,000-block whole of Manhattan and
the Bronx, the total homeless animal population of those
two borroughs would be 56,000 cats, equal to 9% of the
owned cat population, and 12,000 dogs, equal to 2.5% of
the owned dog population.
Comparing these numbers to the number of
ASPCA animal control pickups indicates that animal con-
trol is impounding about one homeless cat in 50 and one
homeless dog in three. Available data from other cities
suggests that these figures are within the U.S. metropoli-
tan norms. In New York, however, as in most cities,
animal pickups account for only a fraction of the incom-
ing animals, most of whom arrive via guardian surrender.
Adding Manhattan/Bronx surrenders to the equation sug-
gests that 10% of the total Manhattan/Bronx cat popula-
tion and 3.9% of the dog population become homeless in
any given eight-to-nine-month period, of whom the
ASPCA handles 15.5% of the cats and 61% of the dogs.
Projecting the figures out over a year, about
85,000 cats and 25,000 dogs from Manhattan and the
Bronx might need sheltering at some point. As recently as
15 years ago, the ASPCA reportedly euthanized that
many Manhattan/Bronx animals per year, but in 1992 it
euthanized only 33,857 from all five borroughs combined.
Thus the number of euthanasias in New York per capita
now is virtually the same––two per hundred residents––as
the number in San Francisco when the SFSPCA gave up
its pound contract.