On July 22, 2021, an anonymous whistleblower informed animal rights activists in New York that dozens of cats and dogs had been languishing in cages for at least 15 months at the Humane Society of New York, an animal shelter and a low cost veterinary clinic. in midtown Manhattan. The whistleblower alleged that the management of the shelter closed the building to the public under false pretenses; did almost nothing to find homes for the animals; and discouraged people from adopting in order to avoid the extra work associated with presenting animals when the building is closed.
After hearing allegations that HSNY is storing animals despite its mission to place them in homes, advocates for TheirTurn, which is based in New York City, decided to investigate.
HSNY TRUSTS THE PUBLIC ON THE REASON FOR THE BUILDING CLOSURE
HSNY closed its building to the public in April 2020. In a phone call on August 16, 2021, Sandra DeFeo, the executive director, told TheirTurn’s Donny Moss that in order to protect her staff from COVID-19, she do not allow anyone in the building to encounter the animals. She also said she had no plans to reopen.
According to lawyer Bonnie Klapper, who reviewed an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) trial filed against HSNY, Ms. DeFeo can not reopen the building to the public until HSNY begins renovations to make it accessible to people with disabilities.
If fear of COVID-19 was the real issue, then Ms DeFeo could require adopters to show proof of vaccination and wear a mask. These are safety measures taken by dozens of other New York City shelters open to the public, including Bideawee, animal shelter, Best friends and New York Animal Care Centers (ACC).
HSNY DISCOVER THE CALLERS TO ADOPT
In August, TheirTurn asked several advocates, including those interested in adoption, to call HSNY to inquire about the process. In any case, Anne-Marie Karash, Associate Director of HSNY, asked them to submit an application and wait for a response. When callers asked specific questions about how they might encounter the animals after submitting their request, Ms Karash declined to provide information and in several cases suggested they contact another shelter.
HSNY DOES NOT RESPOND TO ADOPTION REQUESTS
Their turn asked nine other people who have or have had pets and are willing to adopt to complete and submit adoption applications. HSNY did not respond to any of them.
Six of the nine people called HSNY one or more times to follow up on their applications. Two of them left voicemail messages but did not receive a return call. Four of them called back until they reached Ms Karash, who discouraged them from adopting or told them the shelter’s general manager would follow up with them, which did not happen.
HSNY VIRTUALLY DOES NOT PROMOTE ADOPTION ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Since closing its shelter to the public 18 months ago, HSNY has only posted 12 photos of adoptable animals (on Instagram only), and it has not responded to questions posed by people who have expressed an interest. . This means that those interested in adopting cannot see the animals in the shelter, on the HSNY website, or on social media platforms.
THE HSNY WEBSITE ONLY LISTS 14 ANIMALS, A FRACTION OF THE TOTAL
According to the whistleblower, the list of animals on the HSNY website is not only incomplete, but is also several years old. If the 14 animals listed are still there, it is because they have been living in cages for far too long. If they are gone, then HSNY is wasting the time of the people who take the time to apply for them.
ADOPTERS HAVE NO WAY TO MEET CATS
HSNY is located on a busy street in downtown Manhattan. Although HSNY staff can, if motivated, take dogs outside to meet prospective adopters, they cannot introduce cats to people in this setting. This could explain why HSNY made only two Social media posts on adoptable cats since the building closed to the public in April 2020.
HSNY MAKES A KIND OF ADOPTIONS
While HSNY has adopted a small number of animals from HSNY friends and celebrities since closing its doors to the public, it has not adopted animals from members of the general public (including those who have submitted requests and follow-up) despite the large number of animals in need of homes. During the Aug. 16 call with Donny Moss, Ms DeFeo said HSNY has around 85 cats and dogs in the shelter. HSNY tax forms show a much higher number of animals in the shelter – around 200 in 2018 and 175 in 2019.
In March 2020, the 22-year-old director of adoptions resigned. Ms. DeFeo has not replaced her, and she is now the contact person for adoptions, despite being the CEO of an organization with $ 6-7 million in annual revenue.
ANIMAL CAGES ARE “APARTMENTS”
When asked by Donny Moss why she doesn’t send the animals to active foster homes or adoption centers until she reopens the building to the public, Ms DeFeo said HSNY is their home to ‘Home. She also described their cages and kennels as “apartments”.
We don’t know why Ms DeFeo is adopting so few adoptions when HSNY’s cages are full of animals in need of homes. She is does not want to spend the extra time necessary for adoption while keeping the building closed to the public, or she really believes the animals are “at home” at HSNY. One thing we do know (and any well-meaning and experienced animal welfare professional would agree) is that animals are better off in real homes with families than in shelters. In a loving home, animals can roam freely, interact with their human families, play, climb, explore, patrol, stalk, and engage in other behaviors that come naturally to them. In shelters, which are stressful for animals, dogs and cats spend the vast majority of their time in cages and kennels, pacing, over-grooming, and showing other signs of distress.
If Ms DeFeo is unwilling to undertake renovations that would allow her to reopen the building to the public, then she should send the animals to foster homes and / or adoption centers where they would have a chance of finding a home. permanent focus. Animals that have been living in HSNY cages for months or years have waited long enough.
Note: In August and September, Donny Moss and several other advocates sent letters to Cornelia Guest, HSNY board member, to address the issues raised in this article. She did not answer.
HSNY SHOULD BE A LARGE VOLUME ADOPTION SHELTER
Unlike New York City Shelters, HSNY is located in an easily accessible and busy residential area of ââdowntown Manhattan. Given its prime location and the large number of homeless animals it has at all times, HSNY should be a high volume shelter that sends dogs and cats to foster homes and / or shelters every day. permanent. If Ms DeFeo was motivated to find homes for the animals, then she could empty several cages each day, like other shelters do, before even reopening the building.
CAGES FULL AT “NO KILL” HSNY = NO MORE MURDERS IN OPEN-INLET SHELTERS
If HSNY does not move its adoptable animals to permanent homes, it cannot free up space to accept the newly returned animals. As a result, these animals are often taken to open-admission shelters that kill adoptable animals due to overcrowding.
HSNY MAKES BREEDING DOGS MAKE RESCUE
According to the whistleblower, a backyard breeder in Brooklyn has, over many years, given HSNY hundreds of branded dogs in return for free veterinary care for his own animals. Ms. DeFeo passes these dogs off as rescues, often giving them away to HSNY friends and celebrities. In 2021, for example, Ms. DeFeo gifted Shih Tzus to Kelly Ripa and her producer Michael Gelman. For every herding dog that HSNY takes care of, a dog at a high slaughter shelter in need of rescuing pays the ultimate price.
LOW COST VETERINARY CLINIC IN SAME BUILDING PROVIDES VITAL SERVICES
Each year, HSNY provides thousands of New Yorkers with high-quality, low-cost veterinary care at a clinic located in the same building as the shelter. This clinic is a lifeline for people who cannot afford standard prices for veterinary care. Ms DeFeo is expected to make the necessary renovations to the ADA so that members of the public can not only meet the animals at the shelter who need a home, but also accompany their animals to the clinic, especially for appointments. euthanasia.