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


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.)

Today, Saturday, November 6th 12-5:30 p.m. – Support NYC Shelter Reform/Learn More at Washington Square Park

Updated with AC&C links!

I’ve long thought the New York City shelter system, Animal Care & Control (AC&C), wasn’t going far enough to spare animals’ lives – it’s reported that 13,000 cats and dogs were killed last year in the New York City shelter system.


There are only three shelters – which cover all FIVE boroughs in a city with 8 MILLION people – and all are placed in locations that are not easily accessible for most. (The Brooklyn location is in East New York.) Shouldn’t our animals be given the best chance for their lives to be saved by being easily adoptable and every chance that can be given explored ?

The “system” has always been problematic but budget cuts have made the problem more glaring. People are rallying, after too long a silence, to reform the system. A few years ago, it was stated NYC was going No-Kill. This seems further away than ever.

One of the members of Board of Directors of the AC&C is NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.

The first gathering of a new independent coalition to reform the AC&C will be held today, Saturday, November 6th at Washington Square Park, 12 noon to 5:30 p.m. near the Holley Plaza (to west of the Fountain). Join in and find out more.

From the press release at the Vintage Cats blog:

Concerned New Yorkers are coming together on November 6th at Washington Square Park to educate the public about what is happening to the homeless pets of NYC. The goal is to force the NY ACC to reform so that the needless killings of adoptable pets can be stopped.

This year significant funding was cut from New York City’s Animal Shelter system’s (NYACC – New York Animal Care and Control) budget. Food and supplies have run out over the last few weeks. New Yorkers have been donating food and supplies to keep the cats and dogs fed. The shelters are severely under funded. In fact, there are only three shelters for all five boroughs.

On November 4th phone lines at the ACC were turned off. The public can no longer call in to inquire, or to adopt a cat and dog.

WSP Blog note: This is a particularly important piece of information:

The NY ACC is considered a private charity organization, but its board is made up of city officials. Several of them are from the Department of Health, as it is this agency that provides most of the funding for the shelters. Current board members must be replaced by caring, innovative, and experienced leaders in animal rescue, rather then civil servants with no experience in working for animal welfare and city bureaucrats.

Board members employed by the City of New York cannot challenge the Department of Health’s lack of funding. The NY ACC must start anew as a true charity organization without any ties to a city agency, except for funding.

And this is shocking and sad:

The board purposely hides the fact that the reason the animals are destroyed is because of lack of space and resources. A bulk of their funding comes from an organization called Maddie’s Fund. This organization (more…)