FINALLY: New York City Animal Care and Control plans to launch an adoptions department within a year

New York City Animal Care and Control plans to launch an adoptions department within a year, a shift for an agency that has struggled to connect with the general public and has come under withering criticism from politicians and animal advocates.

To a greater extent than public animal shelters in many large American cities, the city has mostly left the task of finding homes for stray dogs, cats and other pets to a hodgepodge of more than 100 private groups. From 2006 to 2011, adoptions at Animal Care and Control's three shelters dropped 37%.

Now, city officials said they want to play a larger role in helping residents find a pet. The adoptions department would have 10 to 12 staff members and would actively seek owners for its animals, much like large private organizations such as the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“There's a lot of competition out there, with many pet shops and many places where you can adopt animals,” said Risa Weinstock, the agency's interim executive director. “We want to make AC&C one of the first choices.”

The adoption department would mark a new strategy for Animal Care and Control, which has long had regular employees or volunteers with other responsibilities handle adoptions. It would be part of an expansion of the agency's staff from 150 to 250 over the next three years, using $10 million in new city funding that would boost its budget to $13 million this year.

Officials said they want shorter waiting times for those looking to adopt and a more individualized process, with adoption counselors consulting with prospective owners one-on-one. Counselors will seek past adopters and actively tout animals via social media and paid advertising. They hope to have more adoption events and eventually stage events at the shelter, officials said.

More here: City to Launch Pet-Adoption Push – WSJ.com