Best Friends Blog

Manhattan borough president calling for change for New York’s animals

Best Friends CEO Gregory Castle was invited to speak at a press conference Sunday called by Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer. President Stringer released a report calling for a top-to-bottom makeover of New York City Animal Care and Control (NYCACC). Stringer finds fault across the board, and for him, the failings of NYCACC during Hurricane Sandy were the final straw. He says the agency went dark during the aftermath of the storm, with phones going unanswered and doors locked to rescuers.

The report, “Led Astray,” details the failings of the current management of NYCACC under the control of the city’s Department of Health and outlines a viable alternative modeled along the lines of the Central Park Conservancy. Stringer points out failing numbers, such as a 37 percent drop in adoptions over the last six years. The conservancy is a public/private partnership inaugurated in 1980 that engaged a concerned public and transformed the decaying city landmark into the jewel that it is today.

Gregory was one of a group of speakers led by Stringer that included city and state officials, each calling for the needed change. NYCACC is theoretically a private 501(c)(3), but when it was created by Mayor Giuliani in 1995, he institutionalized a board with the health commissioner as chair and reserved seats for the Police Department and the Parks Department. The mayor appoints the remaining non-administration positions on the NYCACC Board of Directors. It purports to be a private charity, but is not in practice or public perception. NYCACC and the city’s animals are subordinate to the priorities of the New York City Department of Health, and they are a very, very low priority.

Best Friends endorses the findings of the report, and we, along with many others, hope that this report can be the catalyst for real change for New York’s animals. It’s worth noting that the borough president does not himself carry the authority to push these sweeping changes forward. It ultimately rests on the mayor.

The assertions in the report will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the issues in New York City, but having the Manhattan borough president pushing the issue with an official report is a major step forward.


Francis Battista
Best Friends Animal Society


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  • Really disappointing, but not surprising, that you continue to espouse things that have never saved lives, like licensing compliance, and refuse to acknowledge the one model that does save lives: the No Kill Equation. NYC has been led astray, but under this plan, it will continue to wander aimlessly. Best Friends, you are no longer a friend to sheltered animals, if you ever were. I’m sure this comment will be gone in a heartbeat, like thousands of animals.

    • Jon Dunn


      No one as far as we know in NYC is suggesting licensing alone would save lives. Licensing is used primarily as a revenue source but also can help drive save rates up. The NYCACC is woefully underfunded, so licensing would allow the department to fund other programs such as more robust adoption programs, foster programs, etc.

      Calgary, in Alberta Canada has used licensing as a core tenet of their model program. Any licensed pet found by animal control is returned directly to the owner and never sees the shelter. More than 91% of Calgary’s dog owners complied with licensing.

      No one is suggesting that NYC solely license pets and call it a day. If you read the report, President Stringer reached out to three very well respected communities, including Calgary, and Reno, NV to help him better understand the possible, and how to get there. The first step for NYC is for them to change the internal structure, something we wholeheartedly agree with. The way it is currently structured makes it impossible for success. Then once the structure is there, and the funding is viable, the programs can follow.

      Finally, just a quick note regarding the deletion of your comment. Eileen, comments that are within our commenting guidelines ( ) are never deleted. We encourage honest, open, and fair debate here which is why you’ll see commenting available here, unlike other blogs you may read.

      The accusation that we are not a friend to the animals. That is baseless, and quite frankly, pretty offensive. In a blog post we put up last week, we showed how we were able to save the lives of 90,000 animals across the US in 2012 ( ). Again, we’re happy to chat about the issues, but please, the next time you comment, try to do it without the rhetoric or your comment will be deleted.


      Jon Dunn
      Best Friends Animal Society

    • a tiny step in the right direction is a positive not a pessimistic step.

  • mxipp

    How I wish more local politicians were interested in the welfare of homeless pets in their community, willing to challenge inept bureaucracies, and work for change. Borough President Stringer is a hero for standing up for the animals. I hope the mayor is listening!

  • Anonymous

    Good news. Hopefully things will get better there for the animals. One step in the right direction.