Adopt-a-palooza Returns to Washington Square Park Saturday, May 19th — Interview with head of Alliance for NYC's Animals

Adoptapalooza

It turns out we have an animal-friendly Village neighbor to thank for Adopt-a-palooza’s presence this Saturday at Washington Square Park for the third year in a row. The neighbor, who runs an entertainment company, reached out to Jane Hoffman, President of the Alliance for NYC’s Animals, indicating that he’d like to help produce an event at the Park for animal adoptions. That started the wheels turning. The first event happened at WSP in 2010.

This Saturday, May 19th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. makes year number 3! There will be more than 100 animals available for adoption. In addition, people are invited to bring their own cat or dog for portraits, other events, and the opportunity to “ask an expert” a question you may have about your animal’s health or behavior. It will be “family friendly” with activities for children.

The last two events at Washington Square have had about a 75% successful adoption rate. Let’s make it higher this year – please consider adopting – so these animals do not have to return to the shelter.

I interviewed Alliance for NYC’s Animals President Jane Hoffman recently who said the atmosphere at the event is “a very happy environment.” Her organization works with the ACC – Animal Care and Control, the city’s shelter system – and NYC rescue groups who “bring animals that show well in this environment.” She added, “We are trying to drive traffic to the ACC. Almost all animals [at the event] from the ACC get adopted. Some go that day. Some [people] find out later [that the adoption has gone through] after a 24 hour wait.”

As far as whether people seek out an animal or do it on the spot, she said, “Some people adopt on impulse, some come with a carrier. The groups and the public really like these large events.”

Adopt Me!

In addition to adopting animals, the other goal of the event is to raise awareness of the city’s shelter and rescue groups as well as the ACC(Animal Care and Control). Still to this day, the kill rate is way too high at the city’s shelter system. Hoffman says that in 2002, 74 out of every 100 animals brought to the ACC were killed; in 2010, that amount was reduced to 30 out of 100. That is still about 1/3. Most of the animals available for adoption at the event come from the ACC so they can free up room at the shelter, meaning more animals’ lives are spared (animals are euthanized typically due to lack of space at the shelters – whether that is the stated reason or not).

The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals was created out of the Animal Law Committee, part of the New York City Bar Association. Hoffman, who was on the committee, became aware of Maddie’s Fund, “a big family foundation giving community grants, encouraging cities to be ‘no-kill.'” And then, “It was a confluence of events when Bloomberg came into office. We said to the Administration, we think we have an idea to improve animal welfare and we can get this multi-million dollar grant.”

With Hoffman’s help and the Alliance, the city got the Maddie’s Fund grant. The grant was for $23.5 million over seven years and ended last year. As with many things related to animals in this big city, that has not been without controversy. The year by which NYC is supposed to be “no-kill” has continued to move further away.

Yet, the goals of Hoffman’s group and the coordination involved are laudable. Although it is called “Mayor’s Alliance,” the organization is run independently. It gets no money from the government, working to assist the existing city structure. Hoffman says the Alliance is “basically a large marketing and distribution network which works with rescue groups.” (Over 150.) There is “Wheels of Hope” for which the Alliance has “5 vans we run 7 days a week going from the ACC to groups that save them [the animals]. There’s a huge effort to increase adoptions. We have spay/neuter programs working with outdoor cats.” Some of the Alliance’s core objectives are ” to increase adoptions, decrease homelessness, raising awareness about shelter groups and shelters – Adopt Don’t Buy – and to strengthen resources of the rescue groups and educational groups.”

People who read this blog regularly know that I am not a fan of the Bloomberg Administration. Hoffman told me when she first reached out to the Administration, they said “we didn’t create this problem.” I couldn’t help thinking, fine, but they have not done enough to make it better on their watch over the last ten years.

I asked Hoffman how the city’s shelter system could be improved. And she responded bluntly, “More money.” She then explained that the budget for the shelter had been $14 million (which wasn’t enough) and it had gone down to $7 Million. She said, “The ACC staff was decimated. They lost 1/2 of their staff. Now they will be able to add back 100 people.” Some of the funding was recently restored in a bill passed recently by the City Council (also a bit controversial – will add in link) which will require the Department of Health to increase the ACC budget to $12.5 million by the end of 2014. That is obviously still too little and too late.

Let’s be thankful for the people working hard to help the city’s animals, the individuals and rescue and shelter groups that work on their own and with the Alliance for NYC’s Animals as well as Hoffman herself.

Stop by Washington Square Park Saturday, May 19th between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to adopt a cat or dog that would love a new home, learn more about the city’s rescue groups, or bring yourself and possibly your cat or dog to get advice and have some fun.

Let’s rally for the city’s animals and truly work to make New York City a No-Kill city.

(I’ve written previously here about the situation at the ACC. Note: I always thought the Mayor’s Alliance existed during the Giuliani years but I didn’t get clarification on that.)

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