NYCACC Says They Will Never Be No Kill: “There Is Actually No Such Thing”

I’ve been pretty bullish on New York City Animal Care Centers (NYCACC) lately. No secret, there have been some great improvements.

I thought we were finally on the same page. I thought we were working towards a common goal, a New York City where no healthy or treatable animal was ever killed in a shelter. I thought the announcement of funding for shelters in the Bronx and Queens was an exciting development toward that goal.

Evidently I was wrong.

This recent article in a Queens-based publication is a slap in the face and an insult to every admirer of progressive animal sheltering in New York City and beyond, and signals that NYCACC doesn’t have any plans to stop killing any time soon.

For as long as NYCACC insists that there is no such thing as an open-admission No Kill municipal shelter, I will not call them one. The assertion is an outright lie – you can find a list of communities at or near No Kill status, many led by open-admission municipal shelters, here. New York City is insulting their professional colleagues, and their betters, in their denial of reality. Austin, TX, with an open admission No Kill municipal shelter that has an intake of about 18k per year with a far higher per capita intake than New York and just hit a 97% save rate? Sorry, you don’t exist. Tompkins County, right here in New York State? Screw y’all. Over a hundred others? Meh.

Instead of emulating or learning from the highest performing No Kill open admission municipal shelters in the United States, NYCACC claims they don't exist.

Instead of emulating or learning from the highest performing No Kill open admission municipal shelters in the United States, NYCACC lies and claims they don’t exist. (Image: Austin Animal Center home page.)

If NYC does not think that there is any such thing as a No Kill open-admission municipal shelter, it is very strange that they accepted millions of dollars over a period of nearly a decade as the lead agency within a coalition designed, in part, to turn them into one.

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The No Kill open-admission shelters that DO exist do not make pathetic excuses like this, blaming a straw man for their “need” to kill. They do not blame anyone else for their killing. They make a plan to stop it and inspire their community to help them get it done – the type of leadership we have yet to see NYCACC demonstrate. This should have been a triumphant moment, a statement of how important these two new facilities are to their goal, an chance to inspire their community to help. Instead we get this pathetic display of lies, doublespeak, and killing justification: we can’t, we won’t, and it’s someone else’s fault. New York deserves better than that.

The shelter in NYC did not improve their save rate to date by “cutting out the sources of homeless animals” (Although that would have been helpful!). They did not provide spay/neuter services to the public (they can barely muster the resources to spay/neuter their own animals, sometimes outsourcing the job to the ASPCA). They did not provide or support TNR programs for cats. They did not expand education. (All of which are very good things and would be welcome, by the way – when do they intend to get started?) What they did was focus on being a functional shelter. They opened a department to interface with rescue… that was conceived of and funded by an external organization. They had the brilliant idea, after 17 years of existence, that maybe there should be a department devoted to adoptions. They were gifted with some additional funding, largely achieved through the agitation of outsiders. They begrudgingly accepted funding for more facilities (again, largely achieved through the agitation of outsiders), including the Queens facility that is the subject of this article after years of very publicly insisting that more facilities were unnecessary. Back when ACC was killing far higher numbers of animals and even with the killing they are doing now, “the real issue” was and is their own shortcomings to lead the way and do the job. Even now we see them dragging their feet over the illnesses that run rampant through their facilities, claiming there is nothing more to be done as advocates attempt, once again, to push them along.

It would be nice if they would lead the way to No Kill. Instead, historically, they need to be dragged towards progress. Hassled. Embarrassed. Browbeaten. Coddled. Carrot and sticked. Along the way advocates and outsiders have arranged for so much help – for staffing, for funding, for facilities – and still we are left with a shelter that will not make a public commitment to do their very best for the animals of New York City. Without that commitment, it’s almost time to move on.

Lead the way. Declare that your goal is to make sure that no healthy or treatable animal is ever killed in New York City (aka “No Kill“) instead of downplaying that in hopes of managing expectations. Believe me, most have been conditioned to expect very little of you. Break that mold. Declare the bold plan of how you’re gonna do it. Ask for help. Be transparent. Be inspiring. Inspire others to help you, to believe in you. Do it today.

Lead. We can’t wait much longer.

If this is as far as you can go, as well as you can do, if you’re satisfied with this, if you’re convinced that you can never be No Kill, then you won’t. And that isn’t good enough. Do I expect you to hit your goal tomorrow? No. Do I expect you to try? Goddamnit, yes.

Lead. Or accept our thanks for the progress you’ve made and get out. Let someone else – someone who believes – reach ever-higher for the goal you say is impossible, the goal that so many other cities are so much closer to, the goal that you are lying about when you say they do not exist.

We accept nothing less. We deserve nothing less. They deserve nothing less.

Lead. Or leave.

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