Things are really looking up for New York City’s animals. Yeah, they’re working on a lot of good things, but I think the major factor is the increase in spay/neuter driving the shelter intake down.
“Since the formation of the Mayor’s Alliance in 2002 and The Maddie’s® Pet Rescue Project in 2005, adoptions from Animal Care & Control in NYC (AC&C) have more than doubled and the euthanasia rate as a percentage of intake has decreased from 74% in 2002 to 33% in 2009.
In the face of this dramatic progress, data collected since 2003 (our baseline year) highlights a clear hurdle that must be addressed before we can reach our collective historic goal: achieving “no-kill” status in the most populous city in the US. Intake of stray community cats (stray cats) continued to increase year over year and this single category of cats now accounts for nearly 52% of all animals entering the AC&C on an annual basis (compared to 40% in 2003) and 74% of total cat intake (compared to 68% in 2003).” — http://www.maddiesfund.org/Documents/Funded%20Projects/NYC%20Community%20Cat%20SN%20Application.pdf
Unfortunately, this program has ended. “The Maddie’s® Spay/Neuter Project for Stray Community Cats in NYC was a one-year grant. It is incredibly difficult to obtain large-scale funding for feral cat programs, so we are extremely grateful to Maddie’s Fund for their generous support in making an increased number of spay/neuter surgeries for NYC’s stray and feral cats possible throughout 2011” — http://www.nycferalcat.org/services-maddies.htm
Maddie’s project typically focus on adoptions which seems to help dogs a lot and euthanasia drops even if intake does not. Other areas I’ve looked at have left me uncertain about how much of a factor s/n is for dogs. There’s usually a less noticeable effect and it seems to take longer, but most of the other areas I’ve looked at have done proportionally more cats.
I think NYC is showing what I would expect: s/n brings down intake and euthanasia, but not as dramatically as for cats. For one thing, just as fixing dogs will not lower cat intake, (and so I’m very frustrated when I can’t get stats separated by species) fixing miniature dogs will not bring down a shelter’s pit bull intake. There are so many factors in dog relinquishment and adoption, it’s hard to predict its effect on shelter stats. Cats, however, suffer primarily from Kitten Season.