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Caged and afraid: Activists protest Humane Society of New York’s Midtown facility for halting adoptions

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Protesters took turns sitting inside of a cage to showcase what they claim to be animals languishing in cages at the Humane Society of New York’s shelter on Nov. 10.
Photo by Dean Moses

Animal rights activists rallied Thursday against the Humane Society of New York in dramatic fashion for failing to allow animal adoptions following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Led by Donny Moss, a writer for animal rights newsletter thierturn.net, protesters set up a large cage outside the animal shelter located at 306 East 59th Street in order to demonstrate what they say animals are experiencing–locked behind bars. Activists charge that Humane Society adoptions have almost completely halted for two and a half years, leaving many dogs and cats confined without the prospect of adoption.

“Ever since the Humane Society of New York closed its doors to the public 2.5 years ago, dozens of dogs and cats have been languishing in cages, unable to be seen by adopters who could have rescued them. Holding animals in cages indefinitely instead of placing them in loving homes is inhumane. That’s why we’re calling on the Executive Director Sandra DeFeo, and the veterinarians who work in the organization’s clinic to send the animals to adoption centers that are open to adopters or to foster homes,” Moss said.

Donny Moss calls for animals to be placed in homes not cages. Photo by Dean Moses
Protesters sat in a cage to demonstrate what they claim to be animals languishing at the Humane Society of New York’s shelter. Photo by Dean Moses

The Humane Society responded to this on its website by writing that the shelter has facilitated 160 adoptions since March 2020. They also say that none of the animals have been returned to them during that time. 

“We will continue to provide innovative, high-quality veterinary care, work tirelessly to match our animals with their forever home, and bring education and awareness to animal protection issues throughout New York,” a statement on the Humane Society’s website reads. 

Demonstrators feel that 160 adoptions over the course of two years averages to about one adoption per week, a number they feel is unacceptable. They instead accuse the shelter of warehousing the animals. 

“Don’t you care? Cats and dogs are in despair!” protesters chanted as they held signs around the cage.

“The Humane Society of New York is a large and prominent shelter in a bustling residential neighborhood in Manhattan. With millions in donations each year and a capacity of 125-175 animals, they should be sending animals home every day, not seemingly warehousing many of them in cages indefinitely,” Executive Director of NYCLASS Edita Birnkrant said.

Pet owners wait outside for the animals to be seen. Photo by Dean Moses
Pet owners wait outside for the animals to be seen. Photo by Dean Moses

In addition to being an animal shelter, the Humane Society of New York’s Midtown facility also serves as a veterinary clinic; however, due pet owners are not allowed to be inside of the office while their animal is being examined. After the demonstration went underway, pet owners were suddenly ushered into the building despite the emphasis of COVID-19 restrictions. Vets at the facility refused to speak with amNewYork Metro as they left the building.

Bonnie Tischler was an adoption director for 22 years at the Humane Society of New York before she retired. She adamantly states that before her retirement there was never a situation of animals languishing in cages, now she has joined in protest against the alleged warehousing.

“Donny Moss, from Theirturn got in touch with me and he said a whistleblower said that animals are not getting adopted, and they’re closed under false pretenses. And it just broke my heart. I couldn’t imagine just enjoying my retirement with a clear head knowing these animals are languishing in cages and not finding homes,” Tischler told amNewYork Metro.

amNewYork Metro reached out to the Humane Society of New York for comment and is awaiting a response.

Protesters sat in a cage to demonstrate what they claim to be animals languishing at the Humane Society of New York’s shelter. Photo by Dean Moses

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