2005-02-23 / Editorials

Op—ed Taking A Step To Help A Pet

By Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

Nothing beats owning a pet. It can truly be one of the great joys in life. Pets teach us so much about ourselves. They can provide a sense of safety and, in some cases, important services. And over time, a dog or cat can grow to become a best friend or one of the family.

I still remember the day many years ago when my family picked up our dog, Candy. On the way home, we brought the cute little mutt to my best friend’s house to show her off. Candy demonstrated pretty quickly that she required a bit of training. But she was a great pet, and lived with us for many years. Today, one of the things I look forward to is when one of my daughters goes out of town and asks me to take care of her dog.

But raising a pet is a tough job, especially in our city, where homes and apartments are small and there is limited open space for animals to exercise. Unfortunately, too many people adopt cats and dogs without truly understanding the responsibilities that come with raising an animal. As a result, we have a serious animal control problem in our city, with far more pets being abandoned or placed in shelters than can ever find a home.

Last year, for example, Animal Care and Control, a nonprofit group that contracts with the city to oversee this problem, took in 44,000 animals. Only 17,000 found a home. That means 27,000 did not, leaving us no choice but to euthanize them.

That is the terrible outcome of a problem that, with the right attention and resources, can be solved.

Last week we took a big step towards that solution when Maddie's Fund, one of the country’s leading animal care philanthropies, committed $15.5 million over the next seven years to initiatives that will help us end the killing of healthy and treatable homeless animals in New York City.

The funding will go directly to two of the city’s most effective nonprofit animal care organizations: The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a coalition of 65 rescue groups and shelters that work with the city, will receive $9.5 million to increase dog and cat adoptions. That should reduce the number of cats and dogs euthanized by nearly 3,000 in just the first year.

The remaining $6 million of the grant will go to the Veterinary Medical Association of New York City, whose members will provide discount spay and neuter surgeries for the pets of low-income New Yorkers. With this funding, the association expects to perform 14,000 surgeries over the coming year alone.

If you would like to adopt one of the thousands of cats and dogs in our shelters who are desperate for a home, first take a moment to consider if you really could give a pet the constant attention, care and respect it deserves. If you are still interested, the simplest way to get further information about pet adoption or any of the city’s other animal programs and services is to visit www.nyc.gov or call 311.

Working together, we can move our city closer to that wonderful day when every pet to be born is assured of a safe, loving home.

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