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  • Wayward Ranch

A New Hope for New York Animals

In November of 2018 we accomplished a goal we have had since forming Wayward Ranch: we became New Hope Partners. What this designation means is that we are able to pull animals out of the NYC municipal shelter system. This includes the Brooklyn, Staten Island, and Manhattan Animal Care Centers.

ACC Intake Photos of Many of the Animals we have Saved

There are many misconceptions about the NYC ACC system. Many people only hear through shared posts on social media that these shelters are “high kill” and euthanize animals. They criticize the people who work at these shelters and many refer to them as “murderers.” This is so heartbreaking because the reality is these are the incredible and passionate people who are doing their absolute best to save every animal they can that comes through their shelter.

Po's Original ACC Intake Photo and a Shot of him in his Foster Home with WRAS

New York City, made up of five boroughs, is the largest city in the US, with a population over 8M people! These three Animal Care Centers alone serve as animal control and open intake facilities for this gigantic city. They take in hundreds of animals every week and do their best to find adoption or rescue placements for every animal they can. Before you judge them for euthanizing a small percentage of the animals in their care, truly take a moment to think about how few other options they may have.

Buttercups Original ACC Intake Photo and a Shot of her in her Forever Home

Any given day they may suddenly have 50 or more new dogs arrive, whether or not they have the kennel runs and cages available to house those dogs. They cannot say "no" and turn the dogs away because they are full. What options do they have in that situation? Push for adoptions for their current dogs, sure! Seek out foster homes with volunteers to house some of the dogs, definitely! Reach out to all rescue partners to see if they can alleviate some of the pressure by taking in some of these dogs, absolutely! But should they still have more dogs than available housing for those dogs, and all other options have failed, they are left with the option to humanely euthanize dogs that may be less adoptable due to medical or behavioral problems to make space for the new intakes. It is a terrible option, one that not a single person working at a high intake shelter wants to choose, but when you have such an influx of animals in a massive city, it is the reality of municipal animal shelters across the country.

Remy, Rizzo, and Templeton in their Original ACC Intake Photo and a Shot of them in their WRAS Foster Home

What many people overlook about the NYC ACC system is the incredible lengths the staff go to trying to place as many animals as possible, and the huge achievements they are making each year to improve their numbers. Look at the chart below and you can see just a small look into the reality of the work done by the ACC shelters. You can also see that although many people only view these shelters as “high kill,” in fact, they have over a 90% placement rate for all of the species of animals that come through their shelters! When looking at intake numbers as high as theirs, this is truly a remarkable accomplishment.


Adoption numbers continue to rise, and this helps to alleviate some of the pressure put on high intake shelters, but NYC ACC shelters also rely heavily on placing animals with their New Hope partners; rescues just like Wayward Ranch! When dealing with farm animals, exotic animals, or pocket pets they turn to their rescue partners for placement as quickly as possible because they simply do not have the resources to properly house and care for them in an animal shelter. They also allow New Hope Partners to pull dogs, cats, and small animals of all shapes and sizes so they may have a better chance at adoption from a small organization rather than being one of many in a large city shelter. Finally, when they have a dog or cat, that for medical or behavioral reasons is deemed more difficult to adopt out or event potentially unsuitable for adoption, they put them on their at-risk list. Many of the animals put on this list are available only to New Hope rescue partners because they have behavioral special needs or even may have bite histories and would be best set up for success in a rescue that is able to provide them with decompression time as well as training prior to putting them up for adoption.

Monkey's Original ACC Intake Photo and a Shot of him in his Forever Home

We are proud to say that of the 9,660 animals placed from the NYC ACC with New Hope Partners, 58 animals came to Wayward Ranch for their second chance at life! When we pull animals from the NYC ACC system, often it is in response to the many emails we receive daily with animals in needs of help. Below you can see what a typical email from the ACC looks like. They also include detailed surrender, behavior, and medical notes so we can get a complete picture of whether we are able to pull this animal.

The Original ACC Email we Received for a Dog we Pulled and Renamed Babette

Of the animals we pulled from the ACC in 2019 there were 6 cats, 4 dogs, and 48 small animals. The majority of the animals we pulled have already been adopted, and you can see the age ranges of our pulls below. Often the NYC ACC is unable to care for very young animals that still require care from their mother or round the clock bottle feedings. Senior animals and adult animals are also often less desirable to adopters so whenever possible, those are the ones we choose to take. We also hold true to our commitment to stand by the underdog with 79% of the animals we pulled in 2019 having medical special needs, behavioral special needs, or both. Often these animals require socialization, training, or medical care prior to adoption. Sadly two of the animals we pulled, Storm and Merlin, had medical conditions too severe to save them and have passed away. Even though they passed, they did so surrounded by love and we are so glad to have done our part to help them find comfort.

We are very committed to being a local rescue. Many rescue groups are looking to import animals from the South or even out of the country to place for adoption here in New York. We feel our job as a New York based rescue is to support our local municipal shelters, such as the NYC ACC, and alleviate some of the pressure they have as open intake facilities. We want to take in the animals who may require a bit more time, medical attention, and TLC that than a typical shelter can provide as we work to find them forever homes.

Kit Kat's Original ACC Intake Photo and a Shot of her in her Foster Home with WRAS

How can you help the NYC ACC save more animals and continue to improve their placement numbers? The easiest thing to do is to share the animals they post on social media looking for homes! So many people focus on sharing the animals on the at-risk list, but there are hundreds more that do not have medical or behavioral concerns, who are not at immediate risk, who also need to be shared and shown to potential adopters online. You can also donate stipends to encourage rescues to take on some of the more expensive medical case animals that the ACC has. Any amount donated can help the rescue that pulls that animal better be able to afford their medical care or training prior to adopting them out. If you are local to NYC you can foster for the ACC directly to help them get their more kennel-stressed animals out of the shelter system to become more adoptable. If you are not local to NYC you can still foster if you find a New Hope partner close to you that is able to pull an animal for you to foster. You can find an updated list of current New Hope partner rescues at:

Swiffer's Original ACC Intake Photo and a Shot of him in his Forever Home

We are so proud to be part of the New Hope Program because we understand that by working together in rescue we can achieve so much more!

Written By:

Eleni Calomiris

Executive Director and Founding Board Member

Wayward Ranch Animal Sanctuary, Inc.

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