NEW YORK (PIX11) — Animal rights activist Donny Moss wants answers from the Humane Society of New York, which he claims is warehousing dogs and cats — some for several years — under the guise of COVID-19 and major construction.

“There are animals that have been there for months and years, in some cases,” said Moss. “This shelter makes it virtually impossible for people to adopt an animal.” 

Moss said he’s spoken to dozens of people who have filled out lengthy adoption applications and never heard back. 

“They were either turned away or ignored,” said Moss. “How many people are going to go to the trouble of following up? They’re either going to go to a breeder or they’re going to go to another shelter.”

Christina Fritz said she tried several times to volunteer at the Humane Society of New York and adopt a cat during the pandemic. She filled out the organization’s seven-page application and says she was subsequently stonewalled. 

“I called several times to follow up,” said Fritz. “I did speak to the executive director and she said, ‘Oh, maybe your application went to spam.’ I filled out another application and sent that in. No response.”

The Humane Society of New York told PIX11 News that it has placed 19 animals in forever homes so far in 2023. It currently has 27 cats and 13 dogs up for adoption.

New York City Council member Julie Menin wants to know why those numbers aren’t higher and said she’s meeting with the group next week. 

“Why are the adoptions only one per week?” questioned Menin. “That seems like a very slow pace for a relatively large organization that’s well funded. So, we do have concerns about that. We’re also concerned about why can’t the public come in? Two years for renovations seems odd. And so, we just want to get to the bottom and get some answers.”

PIX11 News went unannounced to the Humane Society of New York on Tuesday. Associate Director Anne-Marie Karash invited us in for a tour of the facilities.

Karash said adoptions have slowed because of the pandemic and construction and that the process for adopting has changed. 

“Before COVID, you’d show up at the door, you’d come upstairs, we’d talk to you,” said Karash. “That was not a bad policy, but now we’ve found we really want to see people have a good application.” 

The organization’s application requires information about employment, previous and current pets, personal references, household information and more. Karash said the Humane Society’s adoption team now reviews applications before allowing people to meet the animals. 

She said their focus is on matching each animal with exactly the right forever home. Because the Humane Society of New York is a no-kill shelter, she said they allow that process to take whatever time it requires. In some cases, it can take years for animals with behavioral or medical issues that require careful placement. 

“We feel that we really are doing a great job for these animals, that they are in great care here, that there’s no need to send them to another shelter,” said Karash. “We’re their shelter. We are their shelter. We stand by them, and we love them very, very much.”