The city’s animal-care agency has shut down “cat intakes” at its three centers — as cash-strapped New Yorkers are surrendering their beloved pets in droves.
“I think it all trickles down to nobody being really able to financially support animals,” said Dorothy Blomquist, an Animal Care Centers admission supervisor, to The City.
Blomquist said she sees up to 40 animals a day being turned into the ACC, with many owners citing financial strife as the reason.
“We try to supply people with food, but there’s some people who just find themselves in situations where they have to make decisions between their own health and their animal, and their family’s health and their animal,” she told the outlet.
Jen Brooks, who runs NYC Second Chance Rescue, agreed that tight money is the No. 1 cause of pet surrenders.
“A lot of people might be struggling financially, and it’s a recipe for disaster for the animals,” she told the outlet.
“It’s now a luxury to be able to have a pet, for a lot of people,” she said. “Shelters are just packed, owner surrenders are on the rise, finding adopters and fosters just seems to get harder and harder.”
ACC now has pets living in crates in the hallways and in office spaces in “pop-up kennels” to accommodate the overcrowding.
A cat named Grubhub was stashed in one of the pop-up kennels after being found under a bench in East Harlem last week. The 5-month-old cat, who loves cheek and chin scratches, spent two days in the kennel.
A dog named Brooklyn lived inside the administrative office after he was dropped off four months ago after being surrendered by his owner’s friend because his owner never returned to get him, The City reported.
Still, despite being at “critical capacity” and technically closing its cat “intake,” ACC has taken in around 100 cats in recent days, said Katy Hansen, ACC’s director of marketing and communications.
“We would never not accept an animal in need,” she said.
But like many shelters around the nation, ACC is struggling to get their adoption rates closer to their intake rates. Since January, just under 3,000 animals have been adopted from ACC’s various locations, while nearly 7,500 were brought in, including guinea pigs and rabbits.
Last year’s numbers for the same time period weren’t much better, with 2,769 adoptions and 6,702 pets taken into the center, according to The City.
Total ACC intakes from last year were above 15,000. Of the 15,000, nearly 3,000 of those animals were put down, largely by “owner-intended euthanasia,” The City reported. The adoption center faced backlash over the deaths.
Shelters also face a bigger challenge as fewer people want to even be foster parents to adorable animals, said Doug Halsey, who runs Ready for Rescue, an organization that takes in pets who are facing death.
ACC is offering a $5 adoption fee on all cats over the age of 5 this summer. It is also providing a free Lyft ride home to fosters, The City reported. The organization hosts mobile adoption events across the city in hopes of finding more volunteers.
Currently, ACC has more than 500 cats that are ready to find their forever homes, Hansen told the local outlet.
In addition, the company is trying to keep pets in their homes by offering owners support in ways of reduced or free routine veterinary care, trainer referrals, supplies such as food and litter and assistance for various scenarios, including military deployment and owner hospitalizations.