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Thread: Save The Animals

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    Default Save The Animals

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    January 1, 2005

    Fewer Dogs and Cats Are Astray, and Fewer Are Killed in Shelters


    Amid the flurry of year-end statistics, consider this one: New York City put fewer dogs and cats to death this year than in any year on record since the 1890's.

    City shelters put to death 23,684 dogs and cats in 2004, according to Animal Care and Control, the group that runs the city shelters. The figure, which accounts for killings through Dec. 30, is down by about 17 percent from last year, and by more than a third compared with 10 years ago.

    This year's drop was sharp, but not unexpected. The number of animals killed has been falling ever since the 1930's, when spaying and neutering started to become common practice in New York and stray populations began to decline, animal experts said.

    The number of stray animals peaked in the Depression, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which has tracked New York's figures since 1894, the year it became the city's animal caretaker. The records show the highest number in 1928, when about 287,000 animals, mostly cats, were killed.

    "There are fewer unwanted animals being born," said Edward Boks, executive director of New York City Animal Care and Control, which took over the city shelters from the A.S.P.C.A. in 1995.

    The city has not always bragged about declines in killings. At the end of the 19th century, when stray dogs were more likely to carry disease and ran wild, an increase in killings was often taken as a sign of improved animal population control.

    In its 1895 annual report, the A.S.P.C.A. boasted that it had killed more dogs and cats than any city agencies before it, said Stephen Zawistowski, head of national programs for the association.

    Dogs served a different purpose then, said Mr. Zawistowski, who helped compile a report dealing with the history of strays in New York City that was published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science in 1998.

    Dogs drew carts for ragmen. They ran inside large wheels to turn rotisseries. Only the most affluent New Yorkers had dogs as household companions. Animal protection groups focused on horses.

    Early methods of killing would raise hackles today. In Manhattan, dogs were put in iron cages and drowned in the East River, Mr. Zawistowski said. In Brooklyn, dogs were clubbed to death.

    "When economic times are hard for people, they're also hard for their animals," Mr. Zawistowski said. During the Depression, he said, "Cats were proliferating and taking over parts of the city in the warehouse areas and docks. Almost none of the cats were adopted."

    It was not until after World War II that dogs and cats began to be held as household pets by large numbers of American families, Mr. Zawistowski said. The change was part of a broader social transformation, as average Americans became more affluent.

    By the 1970's, the number of dogs and cats killed each year dropped off precipitously. Spaying and neutering had become socially acceptable ways of controlling unwanted pet populations. In 1972, the A.S.P.C.A. began requiring that all animals up for adoption in its shelters be sterilized.The first low-cost animal sterilization clinic in the country opened in Neptune, N.J., in 1957, said Merritt Clifton, editor of Animal People, a newspaper in Washington State that covers animal protection and keeps national statistics on euthanasia.

    New York has one of the lowest kill rates in the country, when measured against human population. According to Animal People's figures, New York killed 3.2 dogs and cats per 1,000 people in 2004, a rate far below the national average of 17.4 per 1,000.

    In comparison, San Antonio, with a population of just over one million, killed about 35 animals per 1,000 people in 2003, Mr. Clifton said. The rate in New York should be adjusted upward, he said, to compensate for the fact that there are fewer pets per capita in New York than in other cities.

    Mr. Boks said his organization planned to make it unnecessary to kill any animals within the next four years, largely through sterilization programs and the encouragement of adoptions. New Yorkers began adopting on a large scale in the 1950's and 1960's. This year, adoptions jumped by about half, to 15,587 animals, up from 10,564 in 2003.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  3. #3


    If more apartment buildings allowed pets than NYC would probably have zero animal killings. It's amazing how much death in general has gone down in the city.

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