2009-03-06 / Community

City Will Provide Free Spay, Neutering Services

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has announced that as part of a continuing effort to identify and implement innovative ways to deliver better services to New Yorkers for less money, the Toby Project has begun providing free spaying and neutering for New Yorkers' pets in low-income neighborhoods, ensuring that tight budgets do not affect this important service.

The city's Animal Care & Control (AC&C) will lease a mobile Spay and Neuter lab to the non-profit Toby Project for $1 a year, allowing the group to provide this service to New Yorkers near their homes.

The Mayor was joined for this announcement by Animal Care & Control Executive Director Charlene Pedrolie, Toby Project Founder/Director Dr. Andrew Kaplan and his dog Toby, and Patricia Castillo and her dog Leika. The mobile lab stopped at City Hall today, which is also the Humane Society of the United States' 15th Annual Spay/Neuter Day.

"Long before the world's economy entered a tailspin last fall, we made 'doing more with less' a mantra of our Administration - because in business and in government, you rarely find better or cheaper ways of tackling problems unless you approach them from innovative new directions," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Millions of New Yorkers are pet owners, and millions more share the goals of reducing the number of abandoned pets and finding every pet a home.

This new partnership with the Toby Project is just the latest example of how our Administration is leveraging philanthropies and the private sector to deliver services more efficiently and effectively."

"Our mission of ending the killing of thousands of adoptable dogs and cats each year in New York City's municipal animal shelters by preventing their births can now be actualized through this unique partnership with AC&C," said Dr. Andrew J. Kaplan, the veterinarian who founded the Toby Project and serves as its director. "By providing free spay/neuter mobile van services to targeted New York City communities whose rate of animal release to shelters is the highest, we will be able to prevent the most unwanted births and help make New York City a true 'no-kill' city."

"AC&C's euthanasia rate is at its lowest point on record, down 55 percent over the past eight years, and 20 percent in the second quarter of fiscal year 2009," said AC&C Executive Director Charlene Pedrolie. "We're excited about the partnership with The Toby Project because it makes free spay/neuter services accessible to residents in neighborhoods where AC&C takes in the most homeless animals. By doing so, the partnership will help us continue to lower euthanasia in New York City by reducing the number of unwanted litters."

The Toby Project created a partnership with AC&C to provide free spay/ neuter services to those communities in New York City that surrender the most animals to the shelter system. 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.

In addition, the Toby Project's outreach program will strategically target communities at risk for animal overpopulation to educate pet owners on the importance of spaying or neutering their cats and dogs.

While many pet owners find wonderful companions through animal shelters, successful adoption programs alone will not solve the problem of pet overpopulation.

Programs in New Hampshire, Utah and California cities found that free and low-cost spay/neuter programs, particularly if operated in lower income communities in which pet owners often have less disposable income, have reduced shelter populations and animal death rates.

To supplement the efforts of other organizations focusing on spay and neuter services in New York City, The Toby Project will ultimately fund the operation of five mobile spay/neuter vans to provide free spay/neuter services to those communities that supply or surrender the most animals to municipal shelters.

The Health Department allocates approximately $8.6 million each year to Animal Care & Control.

The funds are used to maintain New York City's municipal animal shelter system and to rescue and care for homeless and abandoned animals until loving homes can be found for them.

In 2008, approximately 17,000 of the dogs and cats taken to municipal shelters in New York City were euthanized because there were not enough homes to take them in.

In November, the Health Department reduced AC&C's funding 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. While absorbing a series of reductions over the past several years, the Health Department has, until this year, been able to spare AC&C programs. Animal Care & Control of New York City, the largest pet rescue and adoption agency in the Northeast, rescues over 43,000 animals each year. Since 1995, AC&C has been responsible for New York City's municipal shelter system, caring for rescued animals and finding loving homes for homeless, injured, neglected, abused and abandoned animals in the five boroughs. AC&C takes in all homeless pets, including the over 120 new animals on the streets every day. Animals are given shelter, vaccinated, medically evaluated, housed, and fed until they are reunited with their owners or adopted. AC&C has implemented numerous programs to ensure that as many animals as possible are placed in loving and supportive homes. Call 311 for more details, or visit AC&C's Web site at www.nycacc.org.

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