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Cash-Strapped NYC Will No Longer Look For Lost Pets

Updated: Nov. 13 11:20 a.m.

NEW YORK (CBS 2) -- Budget cuts are putting your pets at greater risk if they are lost in New York City.

Animal Care and Control will no longer take reports of lost pets, and staffers at shelters will no longer search the facilities for missing animals.

Animal shelter volunteer Laurie Daniels takes care of "Misty," a stray dog brought in as a stray two days ago.

It's possible this affectionate canine is loved by an owner desperately looking for her.

But now, in our city with its thousands of lost dogs and cats, getting them back to their homes just got harder.

"There's a very good chance if their pet is lost they wont be able to find them," said Jane Hoffman, president of the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals.

The budget for Animal Care and Control was slashed by $1.5 million in the past two years, and now a change in policy:

Staffers will no longer accept reports of lost and found pets.

"They have homes and who knows? They may be destroyed in a matter of days and that is tragic," said Jessica Mawhirt of Battery Park City.

Frantic owners used to call Animal Care and Control directly to have city workers search the three main facilities, but that's no longer part of the workers' job description.

As a result of these budget cuts the owners of lost pets must come to city shelters in person, including one in Manhattan, and the others in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

The Department of Health, which oversees Animal Care and Control, said there is one exception:

"Animal Care and Control will continue to perform searches for disabled people who cannot physically come to the shelters to search for their lost pets," the department said in a statement.

While the Animal Care and Control Web site continues to be updated, Hoffman showed Carlin many of the listings that have no photos and those with images can be difficult to make out.

Hoffman said now, more than ever, all owners must license, microchip and keep collars with IDs on their animals at all times. With those identifying clues, Animal Care and Control will still try to get your pet home.

Without them, you're likely on your own.

Hoffman said, by law, an unclaimed animal can be adopted out or euthanized after as little as 48 hours, although it usually takes longer than that.

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