NYC Doesn’t Give A Damn About Animals

Not you, gentle reader. I’m talking about New York City’s government, and specifically Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a man who has never cared a whit for the city’s animals beyond the (very) occasional photo op.

On Friday afternoon the Mayor’s office published its annual Mayor’s Management Report for Fiscal Year 2013, the yearly report on the performance of city agencies.

“For over 35 years the Mayor’s Management Report has been the benchmark for transparency and government accountability and during this administration we have drilled down even deeper to measure more,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway. “With new sections that better explain how the City is performing and how we want to perform in the future, New Yorkers can truly use the MMR to hold government accountable for results.”

Hey, so far, so good! I’m interested in city agency performance. I like to know what my tax dollars are doing. And New York City’s own Animal Care and Control (technically a contractee to the city’s anachronistically named Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, or just DOH) just had a major increase in funding and I’d be interested to see what sort of statistics they would think are relevant to measuring their performance.

I searched the document for “Animal Care and Control” but came up with nothing, so let’s take a look at the section specific to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, it must be in there.

NYC’s Shelter Reform Action Committee has been pounding this point for a long time: the DOH shouldn’t be supervising the Animal Control contract because it’s not part of their mission and/or goals, and this document couldn’t make it more clear that they care not a whit about it (though it is an improvement from the days when the contract was supervised by the city’s Department of Sanitation.) The chapter starts by laying out the goals of the DOH and what exactly they do. In their download (111)five listed services and explanation of what they do, nowhere is it mentioned that they are charged with safeguarding the city’s homeless animals. As a matter of fact, no mention is made of animals whatsoever. When we look at the performance metrics of the agency animals are only discussed, on page 80, in the context of reducing animal risks to human health (and here they’re mostly talking about controlling the rat population) and the issuance of dog licenses. This is once again down – this year to a mere 83,000 licenses (in a city with an estimated 1 million plus dogs) despite lots of noise from the DOH about how important it is and a rather half-hearted ad campaign to that effect. The only thing related to domestic animals in the report is how much money the city is collecting from them, and as with everything else they’re not doing a very good job.

And that’s all you’ll learn from this report. Although the city claims that citizens can “use the MMR to hold government accountable for results”, statistics related to the performance of animal control just aren’t important enough to be included. You can find lots of interesting performance statistics in this document. You can discover how long the city takes to process a purchase order, or how many senior-friendly benches have been installed, or how many complaints were received by the city about private waste haulers. But in a document that is supposed to lay out performance goals of city agencies not only will you not discover such basics as how many animals were killed in city facilities and how many were adopted from those facilities, those activities are considered so unimportant by upper management that the city agency responsible for supervising those activities is permitted to not mention them at all, never mind set performance goals or present performance metrics.

The city simply doesn’t give a damn.

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