New York City’s Animal Care Centers keeps adoptable dogs drugged-up and in squalid conditions – only to then “mercilessly” kill them – while the agency uses half of its profits on salaries instead of on canine welfare, a new federal lawsuit alleges.
Dogs at shelters run by ACC – a non-profit under contract with the city – are housed in small, dark cages in extremely humid, windowless rooms with poor ventilation, according to the Manhattan federal lawsuit from Wednesday, which also names Mayor Eric Adams and the city as defendants.
The court papers include photos of the faces of “32 healthy, adoptable and loving dogs named and numbered then abused, drugged and killed for no reason” just last month.
The poor living conditions the pooches are subjected to mean there is “rampant pneumonia” at the shelters, where dogs “are sedated with anti-depressant Trazodone indefinitely,” the suit claims, citing the findings of audits conducted by the city comptroller’s office in 2015 and 2020.
The canines’ miserable existence at ACC facilities culminates with them being “killed for no reason,” the filing alleges.
“This complaint is the voice for the voiceless thousands of dogs and cats mercilessly killed each year by the ACC that must provide them shelter, care and find them loving homes through adoptions,” the filing states.
In 2022, ACC euthanized 1,375 dogs and another 23 died in their care, according to the organization’s own data.
The dogs are put down despite ACC bringing in $24 million a year – between city funding and donations, the suit states, noting the agency has a contract to receive city funding through 2052 totaling $1.5 billion.
“Yet, $12 million of that inexplicably goes to salaries rather than for the welfare of the dogs,” the suit charges.
ACC President Risa Weinstock and other management rent an “expensive Park Avenue office” – but could be renting in cheaper boroughs and using the savings “for the welfare of animals rather than the posh lifestyle of the employees,” the filing alleges.
The claims were mounted by Home Stretch Dog Haven, one of the shelters that contracted with ACC to help get dogs adopted in 2021.
But the agency cut its contract because Home Stretch and someone it associated with were critical of the conditions at ACC and the well-being of its dogs, the suit claims.
“The ban was unlawfully based on an unconstitutional pretext, and absurdly undermined the ACC’s mission to humanely care for dogs under its Contract with the City as the ACC next killed hundreds of dogs that Home Stretch could have saved,” the court papers state.
Home Stretch then suffered “reputational and monetary losses” since the ban was public and they were removed from ACC’s list of partners “making it appear unworthy as a rescue when it was not,” the suit claims.
Home Stretch wasn’t the only shelter that ACC stopped working with because of criticism – and the agency deletes Facebook posts from its page that are critical of it, the filing alleges.
The shelters that ACC does work with are forced to sign non-disparagement agreements to “to keep its laundry-list of abuses secret,” according to the lawsuit.
ACC does a cursory screening of those shelters but ultimately fails to inspect their facilities, the suit charges.
The city comptroller’s office found serious issues with the conditions at ACC and with how they spent their money in a 2015 audit.
When it again conducted an audit five years later, it found the same problems still existed at ACC – “including peeling paint over the dog kennels, unacceptable humidity levels, noise that stresses the animals, inaccurate records for controlled substances and animals not receiving medical care,” the suit claims.
A lawyer for Home Stretch, Susan Chana Lask, told The Post: “With the kind of money they are bringing in, the dogs should be eating caviar and drinking champagne instead they are living in squalor.”
Lask said that the city shelter system is a money-making machine whereby the dogs that are taken in by ACC get micro-chipped and vaccinated immediately – making money for partners and contractors – only to be put down just days later.
The lawyer charged that at every step of the process, including hauling the bodies of dead dogs to be incinerated, someone is making money off of the pouches’ lives.
“It’s just a racket,” Lask said.
The suit is seeking for a judge to declare the non-disparagement agreements with partner shelters and “scrubbing” of critical social media posts an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.
It is also seeking damages and for Home Stretch to be brought back into ACC’s partner program.
The Post did an expose on ACC in 2020 and the negligent and squalid conditions its animals endured.
In 2022, Denise McCurrie sued ACC after her emotional support dog was wrongfully adopted out.
Earlier this year, a couple said their elderly dog went missing and was picked up by ACC and euthanized to their horror just hours after.
A spokesperson with the city Law Department said: “We will review the complaint.”
City Hall and ACC both didn’t return requests for comment Thursday.