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Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

When Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday that the city’s executive budget proposal for fiscal year 2017 includes $10 million for two new full-service animal shelters in Queens and in the Bronx, many QNS readers asked if the shelters would have a no-kill policy.

QNS reached out to the mayor’s office as well as to the Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) who are under a contract with the city to operate existing animal shelters in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island, as well as the admission centers in Queens and the Bronx. In doing so, we learned that there is a lot of grey between “kill” and “no-kill” shelters.

“There is actually no such a thing as a no-kill shelter,” explained Katy Hansen, communications director at ACC.

According to Hansen, any large metropolitan area will have several different welfare models to handle the overpopulation of animals. The animal shelters operated by New York City have an open-admission shelter model, which means that the shelter accepts any animal.

“When people refer to no-kill shelters, they are not open admission. They pick and choose what animal they take,” Hansen said. “We take every animal that comes in.”

So-called limited admission shelters have the opportunity to say no to an animal. Other types of shelters are focused on rescue of a specific breed such as golden retrievers, or will take only animals with behavioral issues.

“These new shelters [in Queens and in the Bronx] will also be open admission,” Hansen said. “A decision to euthanize an animal is a difficult one and sometimes because of sickness or behavior we have to make these decisions.”

Some shelters euthanize up to 10 percent of their animals due to health and behavioral issues, and still consider themselves no-kill. ACC’s live release rate in 2015 was 86 percent, and 94 percent in March and April 2016. (Full stats are available here.) Live release means that the animals were either adopted, returned to the owner, or they were sent to another nonprofit partner who then provides adoption services to the public.

According to NYCLASS, which is a nonprofit animal advocacy group dedicated to changing New York City’s laws to protect animals, ACC has changed their policy about three years ago. “They used to euthanize about 90 percent of their animals, and only 10 percent were sent to adoption,” said John Collins, who works NYCLASS. “But because of this new policy they work with other nonprofits who are associated with ACC, they flipped that ratio — now they have about 90 percent adoption rate.”

According to Raul Contreras from the Mayor’s Office, in 2015 the euthanasia rates plummeted – down 36 percent for dogs and 25 percent for cats compared to the previous year – with adoption rates rising by 17 percent.

“For us it’s really not about statistics and we don’t want statistics to drive the decision about individual animal. We put the animal welfare first,” Hansen explained.

“The real issue is that we will always have an overpopulation [of animals] until we start getting at the root of its causes,” she added. “We need to cut out the source of these homeless animals. We need to invest in low-cost spay/neuter programs; we need to support trap/neuter/release programs for cats; we need to expand outreach and education; and we need to target areas where many strays are born and encourage people to adopt from shelters.”

Queens residents will have a chance to discuss the impact of the new full-service animal shelter with Council member Vallone and NYCLASS this coming Monday, May 2, at 12:45 p.m. at Alley Pond Environmental Center, at 228-06 Northern Blvd., Douglaston.


Join The Discussion

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Christina May 12, 2016 / 01:45PM
Why don't you fix the kennel cough problem!!!, TAKE NOTES FROM Sean Casey.. has found a solution in one of his facilities and if he can do it with hardly any money so can the ACC who has funds to do so. Here is a post from an article on him about that: Sean Casey: The new building will also have a special quarantine unit for dogs who enter the shelter sick. Individually ventilated cages will pump air straight outside, thereby decreasing epidemics of kennel cough, a common problem that drives up medical bills. “[The dog] coughs, he sneezes, it doesn’t go to the dog over here or the dog over there,” Casey said. “It’s all contained in here, gets sucked up to the exhaust and out.” Despite the ventilation system’s high price tag—around $16,000—
Nicholas Degen October 12, 2018 / 20:49PM
Crazy that it's now October 2018 and the kennel cough issue is still a huge issue that lands dogs on the euth list every evening

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Christina May 12, 2016 / 11:26AM
Katy Hansen, Why don't you be honest?, Almost all the dogs and cats that go into the ACC are healthy but they get killed because of Kennel Cough going around so its easy to say we have to kill them because they are sick when the ACC made them sick! and as you know they ALL GET SICK some faster than “A decision to euthanize an animal is a difficult one and sometimes because of sickness or behavior we have to make these decisions.” - that statement is an excuse so the shelter doesn't come off seeming like they kill all animals! - which they do unless a rescue or adopter saves them. - you do kill all the animals....and when recues pull the dogs, the have pneumonia!!!!! yes PHEUMONIA!!! and we pay for their vetting!! we being adopters and or rescues! please don't lie to us and tell us they are sick when HEALTHY dogs have gone in only to get very sick and be put on the TO BE DESTROYED LIST.

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Kathleen Jack May 09, 2016 / 05:06PM
Don't be deceived by that uptick in adoption rates and drop in euthanasia. ACC has realized if they hold back the healthy, cute cats and kittens for their own adoption events, then the adoption rate will go up. Heck, if a few catch a virulent strain of calicivirus or kennel cough, they will just list them to be killed and pulled by a rescue who will be left with a huge vet bill and potentially a dead animal. Kill rates definitely go down when you list the seniors and sickest to be pulled. Make it the rescues' problem. Heck they have millions coming in for funding. Oh wait, no they don't. They just care. Spin the BS, ACC. Spin the BS.

John Sibley May 07, 2016 / 09:07PM
There are many open admission municipal No Kill shelters across the United States, the largest being Austin, TX which saves more than 95% of the animals they take in. Theoretically, NYC is aspiring to join them. I'm not sure how that can happen when they claim they don't exist.
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Kathleen Jack May 09, 2016 / 17:51PM
Old Bridge Animal Shelter is my local town shelter. Open admission and as close as you can get to no kill. They don't kill feral cats or any animal for having an upper respiratory infection. They get the animals veterinary care and treat them. Rarely does an animal come in that is too sick or injured to treat. And in those cases real euthanasia is done to stop the suffering. And so much for no kill in 2015. I guess the then communications director thought that sound bite sounded good. Katy likes to spin the no kill argument. I guess that's why she is the current communications director. They make it up as they go along.

John Sibley May 07, 2016 / 21:01PM
On the right sidebar you will find a list of communities at or near No Kill status in the US, many led by an open-admission municipal shelter. It is a shame that instead of leading the way, NYCACC insists on being dragged along.

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Linda May 07, 2016 / 05:13PM
They KILL because of sickness or behavior? Ask her how many get sick IN ACC (kennel cough), which means they're the ones responsible for the deaths. They kill for behavior? How do you think a scared child would do on their behavior evaluations if they were already traumatized by coming in to such a place after being neglected or abused or abandoned on the outside and having a stranger poking at them and sensing the danger of the place and hearing all the stress of the other dogs barking? They don't even give them a few days to calm down before the assessments. Ask her why dogs are killed, even when people are trying to find a place for them and express interest. I've heard of dogs being killed while adopters are on the way......yes, after contacting them and saying they're coming in. I've heard of helper dogs being killed without even a perk of extra days to find a home, out of some sense of gratitude to the dog for being a help. She didn't mention "TIME" as one of the reasons for being slaughtered, as in, the dog has run out of time at the facility (I can't bring myself to call it a shelter because the word shelter means safety). And why are people out of the area denied the right to adopt animals that they're going to kill anyway? When there are homeless dogs and cats all over this country that would be easier to get for those people, I doubt they'd go through all that time, distance and expense to get here to get a dog for sinister reasons. Everyone on social media sites panics when we hear animals are brought into ACC because we know they only have a matter of days to get out before they're killed.

Kate Riviello May 04, 2016 / 01:14AM
New York Animal Care and Control lives in their own universe of definitions and theories in playing the all-powerful wizard of what "no-kill" is and truly their opinion has no bearing on the reality. The "Communications" Director states that there is no such thing as a no kill shelter. Please allow me to explain what she has apparently not learned of in any of the no-kill seminars that are regularly offered. NY ACC is an animal control facility. They could never deserve the title of "no-kill". However, there ARE animal control facilities that have attained the status of no kill with numbers consistent with its definition. A facility that is NOT animal control but takes in and adopts out animals is a RESCUE FACILITY and they can or cannot as it were be designated no kill (many rescues do in fact misuse the term when they kill animals for the same reasons that an animal control facility would. So yes, of course, it is possible that NYC is True No Kill - in fact, it could be done tomorrow. NYC just spent 21 million on a snow plow but yet it feels that they MUST murder little puppies and kittens and the blood dripping from their hands falls onto their bran muffins in the morning and they eat of it with their coffee. When upwards of 8,000 adoptable cats and dogs are still murdered under their auspices, the manipulation of statistics will never cover their actions. Our group NoKill-NewYork.Org will submit a six-year investigative report to the Attorney General that will outline that the "non-profit" NY-ACC under the Dept of Health should be completely disbanned and an OPEN BID should properly be available. This will require legislation at the state level and we will seek nothing less. We have worked hard over these past six years for the facilities to be built in Queens and the Bronx and we are at least gratified that they will be but until an entirely new entity takes the helm, it WILL be business as usual for the most corrupt animal control facility in the world.

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