The Doggie-Doom Disparity [NY Magazine 2/19/07]

An animal-euthanasia-free NYC is further off than promised. Let the growling begin.

By Arianne Cohen

The mayor�s alliance for NYC�s Animals, a pet project of Mayor Bloomberg�s, is an umbrella group of rescue organizations created in December 2002 with the stated goal of "No Kill 2008": eliminating euthanasia of healthy animals in the city by next year. It�s not going to happen. The city killed 17,966 animals in 2006 and is not on track to be anywhere near zero in �08. Now there�s backtracking on the 2008 agenda, which was trumpeted in a press release when the alliance was created. "That was never a policy of the mayor," says Bloomberg spokesman Jason Post. "The story of euthanasia in the Bloomberg administration is a happy one. Euthanasia is down 37 percent since 2003." Ed Sayres, the president of the ASPCA, the alliance�s primary spay/neuter organization, says, "Our timeline is 2010." Jane Hoffman, the president of the Mayor�s Alliance, says, "The goal really has been 2015. We have never used 2008 as a start date." (On the alliance�s Website, Hoffman stated otherwise: "In December 2002, City Hall and the Mayor�s Alliance signed a historic Memorandum of Understanding. The goal is to create a no-kill city by the year 2008.")

So what happened? Animal workers unanimously point to former Animal Care and Control director Ed Boks, who served from 2003 to �05. One alliance member snipes, "Boks�s programs had catchy names, but they had no substance and weren�t sustainable." Boks is remembered for his attempt to address the overwhelming number of pit bulls (over 6,000 per year) coming into ACC by renaming the breed "New Yorkies"�much to the ire of Yorkshire-terrier owners. "It�s unfortunate that in the animal-welfare arena, it�s so easy to throw stones rather than take responsibility," says Boks. "The problem isn�t that the programs failed but that the city failed the programs." The city declined to renew Boks�s 2006 contract. Boks�s replacement, the well-liked Mary Martin, won�t be solving things either�she�ll be resigning in March. "New York City is a tough place to work," says Hoffman.

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