Hope for no-kill animal control in NYC–but chaos elsewhere
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 2004:
NEW YORK CITY, TRENTON, PHILADELPHIA, ST. LOUIS,
MIAMI–“The black hats have increased adoptions 99.6%, reduced
euthanasia 14%, and fewer animals died in New York City during the
last 12 months than in any other one-year period in city history,
just 25,000,” Animal Care & Control of New York City director Ed
Boks e-mailed to ANIMAL PEOPLE on October 17, 2004.
In Boks’ first fiscal year since coming to New York, after
achieving similar results as head of Phoenix/Maricopa County Animal
Control in Arizona, the city killed 28,980 animals, then an
all-time 12-month low, but already broken.
Boks’ secret of success, he proclaims often, is integrating
the no-kill mission and philosophy into animal control–and then
finding the resources to make it happen.
Just across the Hudson River, a New Jersey state Animal
Welfare Task Force appointed in February 2003 by former Governor
James E. McGreevey–endowed with a $200,000 working budget–wants to
emulate Boks’ approach.
The task force recommendations include escalating
sterilization funding, adopting neuter/return as the officially
favored method of controlling feral cats, adding a trained cruelty
investigator to every police department, requiring every county to
operate an animal shelter, and removing the troubled New Jersey SPCA
network from the constabulary role in humane law enforcemnt that it
has had for more than 100 years.
“What they want is obviously unrealistic,” Associated Humane
Societies of New Jersey executive director Roseann Trezza told Brian
T. Murray of the Newark Star Ledger–and that was about the nicest
thing anyone Murray interviewed had to say about the long-awaited
task force report.
Trezza recited a litany of New Jersey cases–familiar to
ANIMAL PEOPLE–involving cat colony caretakers who worked without
backups, then died, fell ill, or moved, leaving unfed cats
behind; county shelters used by corrupt local politicians to create
patronage jobs; and redirections of funds set aside to subsidize
sterilization, when communities ran into emergencies and cash flow
But perhaps the biggest problem: too many entrenched animal
control and SPCA fiefdoms and feuds.
Exemplifying some of the issues, Monmouth County SPCA chief
enforcement officer Stu Goldman in October 2002 charged Associated
Humane worker Kelly Reisman with cruelty for euthanizing six sick
kittens, claiming she did it to spite another employee. Found
guilty in April 2003, Reisman won dismissal of the charges on
appeal, and is reportedly now suing Goldman. Associated Humane
meanwhile charged Goldman with trespassing for making two
unauthorized July 2003 visits to one of Associated Humane’s four
Goldman in May 2004 filed cruelty charges against Ewing
Township health officer Albert Leff and retired animal control
officer David E. Smith for allegedly improperly killing 20 cats.
Concurrently, acting on an investigation begun by Goldman, the
Camden SPCA in July 2004 sued the Humane Society of Southern New
Jersey for the second time in two years, accusing the humane society
of wrongfully providing shelter animals to the Camden County College
animal sciences program for use in “experiments,” described by
animal sciences program chair Margaret Dorsey as free vet tech care.
While all that was going on, the New Jersey SPCA in June
2004 revoked the charters of the SPCA chapters in Burlington,
Bergen, Middlesex, and Passaic counties. Burlington SPCA
enforcement officer Charles Gerofsky pledged to fight the revocation.
In October 2004 the New Jersey SPCA charged former Bergen
County Animal Shelter director Robert Nesoff –also a member of the
Bergen County SPCA–with 90 charges of animal cruelty and neglect,
60 disorderly persons complaints, and 30 civil complaints, in
connection with his management of the shelter from February to
November 2003. His successor as shelter director, Marianne
Gallager, resigned in February 2004 after a fire at her home in
Plumstead, Pennsyvlania, killed 48 animals, including 33 cats.
Having only two big animal sheltering organizations instead
of dozens of small ones has not made the situation any less chaotic
in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania SPCA in December 2000 returned the
Philadelphia animal control contract to the city, effective after a
two-year transition while the city formed the Philadelphia Animal
Care & Cntrol Association to take over. The idea was that PACCA
would do the work taxpayers are willing to fund, while the
Pennsyvlania SPCA, free to appeal to donor generosity, would focus
on the “extras” (as often seen by budget-trimming aldermen) of
sterilization, adoption, and humane education.
Similar divisions of services have helped to achieve dramatic
drops in shelter killing in other cities, beginning with San
Francisco after the SF/SPCA withdrew from animal control in 1984.
But the toll is up in Philadelphia, hard hit by backyard-bred pit
bull terrier proliferation, while PACCA “is an understaffed,
mismanagd House of Horrors,” Philadelphia Daily News reporter Stu
Bykofsky charged on October 28.
“PACCA executive director George Stem has been fighting a
brain tumor for more than a year and hasn’t been focused on his job,
said several staffers,” Bykofsky added.
The problems at PACCA result in part from low staff morale,
associated with killing 22,500 dogs and cats per year, two-thirds of
intake, about half for behavioral reasons.
But merely going no-kill without doing the sterilization
necessary to make it a realistic option has comparably catastrophic
consequences, as exemplified by Gloria Sutter, 67, operator of the
Vanovia Animal Sanctuary near St. Clair, Missouri since 1979.
Sutter on October 21, 2004 pleaded guilty to eight counts of animal
neglect. Franklin County Judge Cynthia Eckelkamp sentenced Sutter to
180 days in jail, suspended on condition that she keeps no animals,
allows regular inspections of her land, and seeks counselling for
The Humane Society of Missouri found Sutter in custody of 524
neglected animals in 1984, 770 in 1986, and 256 at two locations in
Also on October 21, 2004 the Humane Society of Missouri
seized 200 dogs, cats, and horses from “Martha’s Animal Sanctuary,”
an officially defunct organization near Bonne Terre. The sanctuary
operating permit expired in 2001.
The Humane Society of Missouri has historically not been
friendly toward no-kill sheltering, reflecting institutional
experience with Sutter and others, but took a leaf from the “book”
of successful no-kill technique anyway toward the end of October,
absorbing the local no-kill group Adopt A Stray, which has operated
two adoption boutiques at St. Louis-area shopping malls since 2001.
Adopt A Stray placed about 1,700 animals per year in homes, but
lacked the clinic and kennel facilities it needed to maintain an
adequate animal inventory, founder Richard Camp explained to Tim
O’Neil of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Humane Society of Missouri president Kathy Warnick said the
20 Adopt A Stray staff members would remain employed, running the
boutiques, and anticipated that adding them to the humane society
program might push their annual adoptions from about 8,000 a year to
more than 10,000.
Making a similar move, the Humane Society of Greater Miami
almost simultaneously absorbed Adopt-A-Pet, started in 1978 as a
fostering network. It later added a shelter, giving the Humane
Society of Greater Miami three shelters, two of them oriented toward
high-volume adoption. Executive director Sallie Byrd anticipated
that the merger would boost adoptions from circa 2,000 a year to as
high as 5,000.