These are the Faces of NYCACC’s “Spay Neuter Kill” Victims
On average, virtually every week since the program started in January 2017, a dog or cat who has been sterilized by the ASPCA under contract with New York City Animal Care & Control (NYCACC) is returned to the pound and then killed—animals who have undergone anesthesia, and the females, major abdominal surgery, with taxpayers footing the bill. This not only exposes animals to needless pain and stress, but it wastes lives, wastes money, and betrays the public trust.
The program has been dubbed “Spay Neuter Kill” by concerned advocates. NYCACC calls it “fast tracking,” stating that it is a way to get animals out of the facility quicker by having them sterilized before adoption. But for too many animals, that is not what is happening at all. Instead of being sterilized and adopted into good homes, they are being sterilized and killed. All told, 73 victims have been positively identified, some after suffering from painful complications due to botched surgery and/or poor post-operative care: animals such as Hannah, Alonso, and Potato.
According to advocates, “Hannah was vomiting after her spay surgery and it was suggested it could have been because of the anesthesia or the rimadyl given for pain after her surgery. Her records, obtained under public records laws, noted, “Large episode of vomitus present in cage this morning, consisted of partially digested kibble; appears QAR, lying sternally in cage, no CIRDC signs, growls and lowers head when approached:” Hannah was subsequently killed with her death, according to NYCACC and the ASPCA, labeled an “anomaly.” Records of other animals prove otherwise.
Alonso “suffered a scrotal hematoma” and was killed. Rutabaga was “Very active in run. Eating well Significant bruising around prepuce and scrotum” and was killed.
“So far,” say advocates, “at least 2 Cats and  Dogs have been killed shortly after their painful major surgeries; including 6 Dogs who were killed the day after their surgeries; 5 Dogs and 1 Cat who were killed within 2 days of their surgeries; and 6 Dogs killed within 3 days of their surgeries; with one recent victim being a 9-month-old puppy named POTATO, killed for a minor training issue.”
Nala is the most recent victim. She was killed last week. Her notes indicate that she was “vocalizing in her cage post op suspect pain.”
NYCACC has responded to the criticism about “Spay Neuter Kill” by claiming they are saving 90% of the animals. There’s no doubt that lifesaving is up historically, but it is not 90%. And as advocates note, lifesaving is still largely being borne on the backs of rescue groups, not adoptions, and no one is counting the number who die in rescue because they become really ill at NYCACC. In some cases, like the dog live release rate, it has actually gone down. Despite fast tracking, the dog live release rate continues a downward trend which was higher the last two years.
More importantly, even if NYCACC is finding homes for more animals than it previously did, it does not make the suffering and deaths of other animals acceptable, nor justify their efforts to silence critics by denying them their constitutional rights to free speech when they complain about that suffering and death.
When shelter reform advocates complained to elected officials, both the ASPCA and the City pound claimed that the allegations of “spay neuter kill” were “unequivocally untrue” and yet public records prove otherwise. In addition, NYCACC continues to delete comments critical of these practices on its Facebook page. Not only is this a classic sign of guilt, it is illegal, a violation of federal law. (NYCACC is also engaging in secret negotiations to enact a 30+ year contract with the health department, without meaningful transparency and citizen input, to make its policies a fait accompli for the next three decades.)
What should NYCACC be doing instead of operating on animals destined to be killed? Instead of silencing critics rather than addressing their concerns?
With the lowest per capita intake rate and access to the single largest adoption market in the nation, NYCACC must follow the lead of progressive shelters throughout the nation who have replaced killing with comprehensive adoption programs so that no animals face needless deaths.
They can also reform their practices to provide good pre- and post-operative care to prevent infection and complications. There’s no doubt surgical practices could also be brought up to acceptable veterinary standards. They could stop performing surgery on sick animals and offer to sterilize after adoption when they are healthy via a “foster to adopt” agreement. They can also reverse the order of their operations, sending animals to be sterilized after adoption rather than before. Not only would this eliminate the possibility of animals destined to die suffering needless surgery, but such animals would be released to their new caretakers from the ASPCA clinic instead of being sent back to NYCACC where post operative care is so dreadfully poor.
Spay/neuter is supposed to be a tool to save lives, not end them. That’s not lost on anybody. In fact, the leadership of the ASPCA and NYCACC have admitted as much by saying that, “It does not make moral, financial, or logistical sense to spay/neuter an animal and then have them euthanized.”
Which begs the question: why do they keep doing it?
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