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New York adopts 'no kill' plan

February 20, 2005


NEW YORK -- The City Hall press conference had broken up. Mayor Bloomberg walked out, and the invited guests started to mingle. Then, finally, reporters got the sound bite they were waiting for: ''ruff, ruff, ruff!''

It was Brandy, a spirited beagle who apparently wanted to play when a photographer got a bit too close. She was one of nine special guests clad in ''ADOPT ME'' vests who joined the mayor in announcing that New York had set a goal to become a ''no kill'' city within the next decade.

It would make New York the largest -- and one of the very few -- cities in the United States that provides homes for all healthy animals in shelters and euthanizes only those that are vicious or suffering from serious illness.

Hoping to set example

To help it succeed, Maddie's Fund, the nation's largest pet-rescue foundation, has given the city a record grant of $15.5 million. The money will go toward increasing animal adoptions as well as providing subsidies to help low-income New Yorkers spay and neuter their animals.

''New York is going to be the lead in terms of creating what we call the no-kill city,'' says Richard Avanzino, president of Maddie's Fund.

Only a handful of other cities have reached no-kill status, most notably San Francisco and Ithaca, N.Y. Maddie's Fund is hoping that New York, with its size and visibility, will spur more cities to follow suit.

Just 1-1/2 years ago, New York City was euthanizing more than 150 dogs and cats each day. Now, it has cut that by more than two-thirds, to about 40 animals a day. That already puts New York in a leading position nationally, according to Animal People, a leading investigative journal on animal protections.



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