AR-News: (NYC) Citizens Group to Sue City Over Animal Shelter Board

Elizabeth Forel elizforel at juno.com
Sat Apr 24 08:14:37 EDT 2004


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Subject: F O R I M M E D I A T E R E L E A S E


SHELTER REFORM ACTION COMMITTEE
P.O. Box 268-Gracie Stration
New York, NY 10028
http://www.ShelterReform.org
Contact:  Gary Kaskel (212) 876-0090

F O R   I M M E D I A T E   R E L E A S E 

CITIZENS GROUP TO SUE CITY OVER ANIMAL SHELTER BOARD 

New York City, April 23, 2004 - We are troubled by both the tone and
substance of DOH Commissioner Frieden’s remarks on Monday's animal
shelter board meeting that he would lose no sleep over the destruction of
animals that his department deems dangerous to public health, which
sounds like the kind of antiquated thinking from the unenlightened days
when NYC drowned stray animals in the East River.  There are humane ways
to deal with dangerous animals other than killing them.  

Such remark alarmingly demonstrates the goals of the Health Commissioner
are at odds with the City’s own stated goals of going “no-kill” with its
animal care and control agency.  

It is further troubling that no one is defining who decides what is a
dangerous dog and by what standards such determination is made.  We fear
that the term “dangerous dog” is a euphemism for breed specific
extermination by City bureaucrats who do not have a modern and
compassionate attitude towards animals.

The Health Commissioner has further tightened his grip by demanding that
all public statements by Animal Care and Control’s management be cleared
through his office, strongly suggesting that this arrangement is an
unhealthy one for the First Amendment rights of animal advocates, and
more importantly, that AC&C is being treated by the DOH as if it is part
of a City agency and not the independent charitable contractor that it
is.

We believe due to the composition of AC&C's board of directors, headed by
Dr. Frieden, the relationship of the City and its not-for-profit
contractor is illegal. Therefore, the Shelter Reform Action Committee
(SRAC)  has committed to filing a lawsuit against the City and the AC&C,
as third party beneficiaries of this municipal contract, to overturn this
board of directors and seek a court order to change AC&C's bylaws to
protect the public interest.  

SRAC is a coalition of humane organizations and animal advocates that has
been closely monitoring municipal animal management since AC&C's creation
in 1994 (formerly called CACC). SRAC successfully sued the City over
Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Law requirements in 1998 when
the shelter was run by a former DOH employee.  "They were wrong then, and
they're wrong now," said Gary Kaskel, SRAC's co-chair, "and the citizens
of New York demand a higher humane standard than City bureaucrats are
willing to give."

"Mayors and Health Commissioners come and go," Kaskel added, "but we are
here to stay.  We will continue to fight for those with no voices as long
as it takes to make things right."

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