The city's animal shelters euthanized at least a dozen cats with families ready to adopt them because of a computer glitch.
Last month, Animal Care & Control of NYC introduced a new public database that lists animals scheduled to be euthanized the following day.
The list is posted at 5 p.m. each day, and potential rescuers have until 6 a.m. to promise to adopt them.
The New York Post reported Sunday that several people reserved cats online, but were told the following day the animal shelters had never received their requests and that their would be pets had already been euthanized.
“They’re using the animals as guinea pigs,” P.J. McKosky, head of the Empty Cages Collective in Brooklyn told the Post. “They’re working out the kinks without a safety net, and that’s resulted in deaths.”
Animal Care & Control Director Julie Bank told the Post she blamed the mix ups on "user error."
In a statement to NBC 4 New York the organization said that the objective of the new online system was to decrease euthanasia and increase placement of at-risk animals.
"Over 75 partner organizations are using the site successfully, saving lives every night," the organization said. "Dedicated AC&C staff members have been communicating with placement partners on a daily basis, working with them to ensure the system works."
But a former employee said there were glitches in the new system and that supervisors had told her to keep quiet about them, the Post said.
The whistleblower said she resigned because the agency's negligence had led to at least a dozen animals being euthanized when they shouldn't have been.
“There are lives counting on this to work properly,” she told the Post. “I had expected better for New York City’s animals.”
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