Looking after New York’s Animals in Need

Life With Dogs is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.

When people hear “Animal Control” they often conjure up images of uniformed dog catchers cornering animals with big nets and tranquilizer guns, but in New York City the reality is that animal control officers save thousands of lives every year.  And it’s not just dogs and cats, Mike Pastore, an animal-control expert with Animal Care & Control of NYC has been involved with catching everything from peacocks to pot bellied pigs to a Bengal tiger during his career, and he does it dressed in plain clothes and with a minimum of equipment, except for the case of the tiger, which he did not approach himself.

In the case of the tiger, it had been left alone and unfed for 3 days in an apartment in Harlem in 2003.  After receiving a tip that the animal was there, police and animal control went to the apartment and heard nothing.  But after drilling a hole through the door a scope revealed the hungry and aggressive tiger inside.  A police officer rappelled down the side of the building and shot the tiger with several tranquilizer darts.  Eventually the beautiful beast was transferred to a sanctuary in Ohio, to enjoy a much more pleasant life that he richly deserved.

Animal Care and Control is often confused with the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).  It is a nonprofit that has been under contract with the city since 1995 and takes in about 35,000 animals per year.  Most of those are adopted out, placed with another agency, or claimed by owners.  Based on population, New York City has the lowest rate of euthanization in the US.

When asked about the danger of dealing with aggressive animals, Animal Care & Control’s executive director, Julie Bank, said the greatest threat in such situations isn’t the animals but hostile crowds, and Mr. Pastore agreed. “They go into areas and get called names, get bottles thrown at them,” she said of her staffers.  Pastore’s goal is to be calm and not upset or stress the animal further, and indeed in his career he only recalls being bitten once.

“Everybody has an opinion how to get the animal,” Mr. Pastore explained, returning to the subject of how best to subdue them. “You have to perform in front of a lot of people humanely and safely. You have to dance around all that, then explain to the people what you’re doing.” At the end of the day, a great many animals are saved and provided with better, happier lives thanks to Animal Control’s excellent team of dedicated and compassionate officers.


6 thoughts on “Looking after New York’s Animals in Need”

  1. You really shouldnt delete peoples comments when they are speaking the truth about the ACC in NYC. If you are such a dog lover you should allow the public to know the truth about what goes on in there maybe we can really start making a difference for these poor animals but when people hide what is going on behind closed doors nothing will ever change.

  2. I so agree with Jennifer & Marike! I get those daily kill lists from the NY ACC usually titled “Super Urgents”. I follow a great many of those dogs (& cats) & see daily where there are even rescues coming to get some of these dogs & ACC kills them anyways or they can’t locate a specific animal & claim “they don’t know where they are” – so awful. These dogs are not networked for adoption except for a handful of people that share these dogs on Facebook – the day before they euthanize them. These dogs deserve better. The lack of care for wounded & sick animals is apparent in the pictures. Just check out the “Gone” folder in the Urgent Part 2 – death row dogs on Facebook. Most of these dogs get 3 days! You can’t place these dogs in 3 days. I understand that irresponsible people created this problem. But do they really have to kick them when they are at their most vulnerable adding less than stellar behavioral evaluations because these dogs are scared out of their mind. I’m sure they are very nice people among the not so nice but that place needs a major overhaul starting with management. So don’t sugar coat it. They are most concerned with getting funding but whose pockets it goes to one can only guess because they are not promoting these dogs for adoption.

  3. OK Life with DOGS…….Are you going to respond to these comments? Can your staff rebut the reality of what NY ACC is doing to DOGS and CATS? Until recently, I LOVED your site and checked in daily. This article invited the controversy to your door. Now, let’s see how much professional journalism exists with your staff writers. Are you going to really address the reality that NY ACC is nothing like your article attempted to portray? Does this site REALLY care about the animals that you post those warm smarmy stories about? I’ve seen the Facebook postings for NY ACC dogs that are so awful I have to cry and turn away from some pictures. It is a fact that if I care then I should get off my duff and do something pro active. At least I am not publishing propaganda that hides the reality of the suffering and inhumane manner in which live animals are “disposed of” daily as if it doesn’t happen. If you want to publish? Then please tell the truth. You might lose a few readers but you would certainly be credited for being true to your “cause”: THE ANIMALS.

  4. I am so disappointed to see this article! The NYC ac&c is hell on earth for most animals. Again I’m sure there are individuals that care that work there but the procedures & policies are horrific. Life with dogs if you have this false utopian article about ACC then what else have I read on your site that is just as misleading & false about other shelters & animal care.
    I sincerely hope there will be a follow up article with a more thorough investigative approach that depicts the reality of ACC in NYC. Until then your credibility with me has gone out the window.


Leave a Comment