Tuesday, February 24, 2009

NYC Announced a Kinder Cut. . .As In Free Spay/Neuter

New York City is about to undergo another round of crucial cuts, but this kind of gentle snip will help curb the city's animal overpopulation crisis.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced today a partnership between NY City Animal Care & Control Shelters and The Toby Project, to provide free spay/neuter services to those communities within the five boroughs that surrender the most animals to the shelter system.

"All New Yorkers can do their part by being responsible pet owners and having their animal spay or neutered," said Bloomberg, as he fed carrots to Toby, the Irish Wolfhound whose name was plastered on the mobile vet clinic behind them. Bloomberg said his daughter Georgina recently adopted a dog named Hugo from a shelter and that his own yellow labs, named Bonnie and Clyde, are both fixed.

AC&C will lease the van at $1 per year to The Toby Project, which will take over the operation and funding of the van as a mobile clinic. The goal is to reduce overpopulation in the shelters by increasing the number of New York City animals that are spayed or neutered.

The big-hearted vet behind the project is Dr. Andrew Kaplan of the Upper West Side's City Veterinary Care. Kaplan's started the nonprofit, which he named after his large Wolfhound mix Toby, which he adopted in 2001 from Animal Care & Control of NYC, on the day the healthy dog was to be euthanized.

"It's time to end the viscous cycle of unwanted births," said Kaplan, who gives a 75 % discount in his practice to over 50 animal rescue groups.

Its first mobile surgery van will be on location beginning February 15 in the Gun Hill section of the Bronx. Check here for location calendar for schedule updates.

AC&C is contracted by the city to care for its homeless animal population. It is the only shelter to be required by law to take in any stray or abandoned animal. Each year, an estimated 43,000 animals land in the shelter. Due to overcrowding, an estimated 23,000 are euthanized simply because there is no space.

The annual budget to run three shelters in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island is a meager $8 million. Earlier this year, the budget was cut by $434,026, or about 5 percent, its first budget cut in more than six years. In January, AC&C faced an additional cut of $300,000, to take effect in 2011.

In New York City, several other organizations offer free or low-cost spay and neuter programs, including Maddie’s Fund, which provides low-cost surgeries for pets of qualified New York City residents. The ASPCA also offers free or low-cost spay and neuter services for up to 25 animals per day on a first-come, first-served basis.

Bloomberg closed the presser by turning the mike over to Toby. "Toby, say something," he orderded. Toby responded like any pup whose life was spared: "Arf, arf, arf."

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