October 19, 2009
NYC Dogs Threatened by NYCHA Housing Policy
The ASPCA and the Mayor's Alliance For NYC's Animals are calling for a re-examination of the New York City Public Housing (NYCHA) policy that went into effect on May 1 of this year. The ban-one of the strictest from any public housing authority in the country-prohibits adult canines who reach a weight of over 25 pounds from living in public housing. NYCHA tenants are also banned from owning purebred or mixed-breed Rottweilers, Pit Bulls or Doberman Pinschers and are only permitted to have one dog or cat.
Fearing eviction, NYCHA tenants have been surrendering their pets to New York City Animal Care & Control (AC&C), which has a contract with the city to take in unwanted animals. As a result, healthy, well-behaved pets are being removed from their homes and falling prey to overcrowded conditions and an array of illnesses in the city's shelter system. "These dogs are not coming into the shelter ill," says Jane Hoffman, President of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals. "They're healthy when they arrive."
According to data gathered by the Mayor's Alliance For NYC's Animals, between April 1 and October 8 of this year, 119 dogs were surrendered by NYCHA residents to AC&C. Roughly half of these pets have been euthanized.
However, 62 of the NYCHA dogs have made it out of the NYC shelter system-16 have been adopted, 46 have been transferred to pet rescues and shelters with larger holding capacity and a handful have been taken back by their owners who plan to fight to keep their dogs.
"These people consider their pets family members," notes Hoffman. "This is not just an issue for the animals. It's a great loss for the families who are giving them up."
According to Debora Bresch, an attorney with ASPCA Government Relations, the new NYCHA policy also means that available homes for shelter dogs have decreased. "About 172 dogs at the AC&C were adopted by public housing residents in the weeks before the new pet policy went into effect," says Bresch.
"Under the new policy, 107 of these dogs-over 60 percent-are no longer allowed to live with their new adoptive families. Assuming that NYCHA residents would have continued to adopt now-prohibited dogs, the new policy could mean that well over a 1,000 dogs per year will be unable to find the good homes they deserve."