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Saturday, October 31, 2009

A generous teen's unselfish act….



A generous teen's unselfish act will help the pet

overpopulation

problem, but a pending bill is key



Saturday, October 24th 2009, 4:00 AM



Emily Orchant, of Manhattan, is seen with her two flat-coated retrievers, Marley (l.) and Ruby.
Emily Orchant, of Manhattan, is seen with her two flat-coated retrievers, Marley (l.) and Ruby.



In Hebrew, the phrase tikkun olam means "repairing the world."

That's exactly what 13-year-old Emily Orchant set out to do last week when she donated all of the money she received from her bat mitzvah celebration to help end the city's pet overpopulation crisis.

"I wanted to do something so animals don't get killed anymore in shelters where they have 72 hours to find a home or die," said the upper West Side eighth-grader, who loves riding horses and hanging out with her flat-coated retrievers, Ruby and Marley.

Emily has donated about $5,000 to the Toby Project, a nonprofit group run by her family's veterinarian, Dr. Andrew Kaplan.

The group provides free spay and neuter operations to low-income pet owners who could not otherwise afford to fix their pets. Emily's generous donation will cover more than 50 operations.

Left unfixed, 50 cats and dogs eventually can produce more than half a million offspring. Every day, about 70 cats and dogs are euthanized at the city Animal Care & Control shelters because there are not enough cages to hold them or people to adopt them.


This problem exists because too many pet owners allow their dogs and cats to produce unwanted litters without thinking about the consequences. It's a vicious cycle Kaplan says the city cannot adopt its way out of.

Still, one political action group leader says the city shouldn't have to rely on the generosity of New Yorkers like Emily or the handful of private organizations providing the low-cost spay and neuter operations.

"Low-cost spay and neuter clinics for low-income pet owners need to be a fundamental part of the city's services for homeless animals, not an afterthought," said Catherine Beason, president of Animal Friendly NYC.

The group has been working with the city Health Department and the Animal Care & Control shelters to create a citywide program that could dramatically reduce the number of animals that land in shelters.

A 2006 study suggested that doing 20,000 low-cost operations a year could reduce the number of animals coming into the shelters by 42% in the first year. That would not only save the city a lot of money in sheltering costs, but also would save a lot of lives.

So, where will the money come from? Dog licenses. If passed, a new bill would allow New York City to set up its own low-cost spay and neuter program using money from the $3 license surcharge required for unaltered dogs.


To date, the city Health Department has issued 29,241 dog licenses for unaltered dogs, which could generate about $10,000 - enough for more than 100 operations per month.

But the funds now go to the state-run Animal Population Control Fund, which offers spay and neuter vouchers to participating veterinarians around the state.

The bill sets up the mechanism to return those funds to city coffers, rather than being used statewide.

"It is vital that New York City receive its due share of funding from the state Animal Population Control Fund," said the bill's sponsor, Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal.

The bill passed the Assembly in June and is ready to go for a floor vote in the Senate.

Rosenthal is urging the public to contact Senate leadership to put the bill on the agenda for the next special session.

To contact your senator, visit www...AnimalFriendlyN..YC.org.

Meanwhile, the city must continue to rely on the generosity of animal lovers.


"I love animals," Emily said. "I can't think of anything else I would want to do with the money."


Reposted by Kindness of Strangers E_CO Member



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