Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stewie to the Rescue: A Look Back

Hey all,

I know most people write blogs/emails/letters etc talking about the previous year and their hopes/desires/wishes for the new year. But I'm not going to do that.

2011 was a decent year for Stewie to the Rescue when taking into account all the stuff I had going on (like, having a baby), but at the end of the day, I don't feel like I'm doing enough.

The only sense that I had that we're making a difference was getting the Humanitarian of the Year Award from The Companion Animal Network's Pet Mobile, whose owner, Garo Alexanian, said that we helped them stay afloat, making it possible for them to, if not thrive, at least continue to operate when times were tough. If you want to see how we get involved with them, read this and this.

They have now helped save over 7,000 animals due to their low cost vet prices.

Come to think of it, I guess we had a damn good year.

I will post my "Look Ahead to 2012" tomorrow (eh, who am I kidding, probably Saturday)

Harris Bloom

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Burnout in Animal Rescue

I don't have to tell anyone who already works in animal rescue that it's an exhausting, and often times, thankless job. For every happy story, there seems to be ten that end sadly, which can wear on even the strongest of people.

Perhaps that why the burnout rate in animal rescue is remarkably high (per one of my wife's social worker books, which, by the way, is another industry with a high burnout rate - we're made for each other, huh?).

What can you do to help prevent it getting the best of you? Here are a few tips...

1 - Get  Your Own Life In Order - It's amazing to me how many people involved in animal rescue have such precarious personal situations (e.g. unemployed, broke, sick, etc). The stress of your personal life is not only affecting your life now, but will continue to add up, resulting in additional health problems later on, causing you to either curtail your work with the animals or even be forced to quit. How exactly will this help the animals?

2 - Spend Some Time With People Not Associated With Animal Rescue - Any time I hang out with someone involved in animal rescue, the conversation ALWAYS ends up being about the ACC or the "business" in general. And rarely is it to discuss all the happy stories. My suggestion is to hang out more with people not involved in rescue OR at least make a promise when hanging with rescue peeps to NOT discuss anything rescue related once on a while. If you're stuck, here are a few things to talk about....

a - Does the "God Particle" exist?
b - Why are there so many $%@#$ stink bugs??
c - Sex

3 - Make More Time For Your Hobbies (or Get One!) - Make a list of stuff you like to do (besides rescue!) - Do something from that list every day. It'll help your attitude and give you a break from rescue (and other) stress. Here are a few possible hobbies to try...

a - Handcuff collecting
b - Collect typewriters from the 1940's.
c - Suing people

4 - Keep Track Of Rescue Successes - As I mentioned before, there are so many sad endings in rescue that it can feel overwhelming at times. Keeping a list of your successes in rescue will help remind you of the difference that you are making.

5 - Set A Finite Rescue Goal and Then Take A Break - It seems like though we all take vacations from our day jobs, no one takes breaks from rescue work. This is insane as we all need time to charge (recharge?) our batteries, not to mention, to get away from it all. So, set some goal (e.g. find a home for three cats) and then take a week off - No Facebook, no emails, and no blogs (except this one - just kiddin')

6 - Forget All of Your Troubles/Worries -  GO TO A COMEDY SHOW!

Rock On,

Harris Bloom

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Dog Named L.L. Bean

Ok, so I am gonna really try to blog every day or two - I know, I may've said this before but this time I mean it!


I love this story about a shelter dog, that they named L.L Bean, which was subsequently adopted by an employee of, yup, L.L. Bean! Not only that, but employees of L.L. Bean chipped in to pay the $800 of transportation expenses to get the pup to it's new owner!

One of the smaller criticisms of the ACC shelter here in NY is how lazy they are in naming the animals. At the very least, they can use corporate names that are well-liked and that people feel a connection to. Here are some good ones...

Dr. Pepper
Cheesecake Factory (what!?!)

Harris Bloom

Friday, November 4, 2011

The "Having A Dog" Diet*

There are plenty of dieting options out there, some quite bizarre and dangerous ("The Tapeworm Diet," anyone?).

I've got a new one (at least I think it's new)...

The "Having A Dog Diet." (copyright pending)

Here's how it works - Get a dog and.... that's it! Easy, no?

Here's why it works...

Before I had a dog (or dogs), on evenings that I was home, I would pretty much eat all night. Seriously, I have trouble sitting still for 15 minutes without checking the kitchen for "What else do I have?"

Then, I got Stewie, and subsequently, Kilo (tangent - Holy crap, I cant believe how skinny Kilo was when we got him...making me rethink this blog post!) and River.

Of course every time I went to the kitchen to get something, they'd follow me in to get their fair share of the booty (I know, I'm a sucker). The good thing is that by sharing whatever I got, I was only eating 50 to 75% of the snack! Helloooo weight loss!!!

Not only that, but given that dogs can't eat chocolate, I am less likely to bring chocolate into the house as I hate seeing their sad faces when  can't oblige them (see sucker comment above).

So, there ya have it!

Get a dog and lose weight!*

Harris Bloom

* Only works if you're a sucker

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Notes From The Underground

As anyone who knows me knows, the ACC is a freaking nightmare.

This is no secret to anyone even remotely involved (even if various public officials and heads of "important" animal-related non-profits suggest otherwise).

What we don't know is what goes on inside, and that's because any staff member or volunteer will be fired if they speak out against the ACC (in fact, rescues wont go on record either as they will be kicked out of the Mayor's Alliance, thereby losing funding, if they speak out).

So, how can we find out what the volunteers think?

We can go HERE - A link to the Shelter Reform Action Committee's Notes From the Underground, which will publish any stories they get from staff/volunteers, with the promise of anonymity.

The first one is already up here.

It will no doubt be an infuriating, but important series.

Harris Bloom

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mayor Mike Bloomberg is a Piece of Shit

I really don't want to write these things.

I swear, I have so much effin' things to do - day gig, a wife, ten month old baby at home, two dogs, animal rescue, comedy "career" - I really don't have the time.

But I'm compelled to...

Cause our Mayor, Bloomberg, is a sack of shit.

He's always been arrogant and dismissive, that's his MO when dealing with any criticism. Usually, I don't make a big deal about it, because I figure, eh, what's the use.

But now I figure if I can change one person's point of view about him, I have to do it (okay, I have to change more than least like seven...yeah, seven).

As many of you know, a carriage horse died in the street several days ago in NYC. Bloomberg, as usual, not only didn't seem the least bit sorry about it, he didn't offer the usual platitudes of any investigation forthcoming, no, he seemed, well, arrogant and dismissive. Here are his money (irony intended) quotes from the article....

Days after a carriage horse collapsed and died in Midtown, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg on Wednesday dismissed calls for a ban on the carriage industry, saying he could not imagine why “anybody wants to destroy something that is part of New York’s heritage and that tourists love.”

“I have no idea what goes through their minds,” the mayor said of opponents of horse-drawn carriages.

“The horses here are supervised by the health department, the A.S.P.C.A.,” he said. “They’re well taken care of. And most of them wouldn’t be alive if they didn’t have a job.”

First of all, he's mentioned the tourist aspect several times - There isn't a tourist in the freaking world who comes here simply to ride the horse drawn carriages...sure, maybe some have it on their "to do" list while here, but not a single one isn't going to come to NY because they can't ride a horse.

Secondly, he has no idea what's on the minds of opponents? If that statement is true, then he's even more of an asshole than I thought. I mean, I can understand how he can object to us thinking the way we do, but to be so devoid of empathy is quite frankly scary.

The next sentence I pasted here is worthy of a reprint (even though I just pasted it a few lines up)...

"The horses here are supervised by the health department, the A.S.P.C.A.,” he said. “They’re well taken care of. And most of them wouldn’t be alive if they didn’t have a job.”

Why is that sentence worthy of a reprint? This came out yesterday.

They are "well taken care of?" Oh, really?

Apparently, this horse, Charlie as he was named, was just checked out by Dept of Health vets (I assume they have vets) in June. Meanwhile, as per the ASPCA's necropsy report, indications are that "Charlie was not a healthy horse and was likely suffering from pain due to pronounced chronic ulceration of the stomach and a fractured tooth."

When Bloomberg was asked about Charlie's death again, he responded, "Like everyone, eventually they die...some die on the streets."

I hope someone eulogizes him the same way.

RIP Charlie

Harris Bloom

Friday, October 14, 2011

Eff The New York Post (and Bad Pittie Owners)

The New York Post today has a story with this headline -

Pit-bull horror on Upper E. Side

The article is about a guy who was murdered yesterday, found with bite marks of his roommate's pit bull, Bones.

The second paragraph says, "Authorities believe the dog, named Bones, may have mauled the victim’s body after he was killed, allegedly by suspect Shaun Dyer, a source said."

First of all, I love the sensationalistic "mauled" adjective to describe the bites.

Secondly, it seems the focus should be how this guy killed his roommate and set up his dog as the killer, no? (Which would be funny to me if I wasn't worried about the public perception of pitties) - The headline used makes it sound as if the pit bull killed him.

Let's look at a few other sentences, further down in the article....

The dog should have been off the street years ago,” railed neighbor Bruce Miller, 65, claiming that Bones bit him on June 17.

"I walked out my door and the dog attacked me. [The owner] was watching him chew on my arm, and he was laughing.”

Others, who asked not to be identified, said the owner abused his animal -- turning a once-tame pet into a snarling beast.

“I knew him when he was a good-natured and good dog,” said one man. “I took him for a walk once. The dog takes on the personality of the owner.

“If the dog is mistreated, he’s going to mistreat others.”

The man said he hoped Bones’ life would be spared -- and that the blame would not be laid at the pooch’s paws.

Postal worker Rafael Reveron, 42, said he didn’t think the animal would have been capable of such horrific violence.

“I’ve worked in the area for five years,” Reveron said. “I’ve seen the dog three to four times a week.

“The dog does not seem aggressive -- it doesn’t even bark.”

This appears to be a classic case of the wrong owner owning the wrong dog, and who's gonna pay for it?

The pit bull breeds.

Sorry guys, we are failing you.

Harris Bloom

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Yeah, Right!

Kilo has really bad breath sometimes. I asked my vet about ti and he suggested some breath mint for dogs.

I responded, "Yeah, I can't get him to sit for two seconds, I'm gonna get him to suck on a mint?"

Harris Bloom

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The One Second Rule

Just like a lot of homes, we live by the five-second rule when food drops to the floor.

Unlike others, our five second rule means that if we don't pick it up within five seconds, one of the dogs will.

Who am I kiddin', it's more like a one second rule.

Harris Bloom

Monday, October 10, 2011

NYC's Animal Care and Control Manages To Lose Money Doing Fundraisers

Here's what I don't get...

The "Humane" Society of the U.S. (I put that in quotes because I think they're a horrible organization - start HERE if you wanna see why) did a benefit in NYC and raised a freakin' million dollars...

Just to show that's not out of the ordinary, the ASPCA also had an event here, and yes, they too raised over a freakin' million dollars!

(BTW - The ASPCA sucks too.)

So, you may wonder, how much does NYC's Animal Care and Control make off of their fundraisers?

It must be easy as pie to raise funds as the HSUS and ASPCA show - I mean, this is NYC, mecca of money, celebrity...not to mention people who are insane about their animals. And, I'm sure they were able to use the fact that they are the self-described "largest pet organization in the northeast" (per their website) to get the money flowing...

They must do a ton of them, right?

I mean, they complain about being underfunded (which they are), and what better way to make up for the lack of funds than pushing up your sleeves and going to work.

I believe Richard Gentles, making six figures, as the Director of Development (fancy!) is the person on their management team in charge of getting the money flowin'!

And, he shlould have plenty of help, in the form of their impressive roster that is their Board of Directors (After all, this is what BOD of a non-profits is supposed to do - Look at number 4 here)

Speaking of their BOD, they are lucky enough to have not one, but two Wall Street titans on there, Mssrs, John M.B. O'Connor (former partner at Morgan Stanley, now CEO of J.H. Whitney Investment Management) and Bruce Doniger (hedge fund trader). In addition, they have Patrick Nolan on the Board - He is the Director of Marketing at Penguin Books - Surely, he can share his marketing prowess to help, instead of just keeping a seat warm.

Given all of this, I am excited to see how money they have raised due to their collective fundraising efforts...

So, I took a look at their latest Form 990, which are a non-profit's financials, and guess how much they made in their last fiscal year from fundraisers?



Actually, it's even worse than that (believe it or not).

If one takes into account expenses associated with these fundraising "efforts," they raised a total of, are you ready...


That's right, they lost money.

I guess I have to retract my earlier comments - NYC's Animal Care and Control should immediately stop doing fundraisers!

Harris Bloom

Friday, October 7, 2011

Oh, Kilo

Yesterday (and today), I spent my day at work thinking about our dog, Kilo... not cause I missed him, but because thanks to give going after another dog on our morning walk, my right hand is swollen and in pain (not broken).

Thanks Kilo!

Harris Bloom

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NYC Comptroller (Sorta) Audits Animal Care and Control

So, here is the full report, and here it is in brief.

First of all, this isn't a true audit, it was merely a follow-up to an audit they did over five years ago (great that it took them five years to follow up to see if what they deemed important was implemented, huh?).

In other words, they weren't looking for anything new, or even to see if what the AC&C was doing satisfactorily previously was now in disarray; no, they just wanted to see if Farley/Bank et al fixed what the Comptrollers office thought was broken in 2006.

Naturally, they didn't...

How much is still broken is tough to say, say the auditors, because...are you ready?

The AC&C and DOH (Dept of Health) wouldn't  cooperate with the auditors' requests for information and the ability to speak to staff and volunteers (Hmmm... I wonder why)

The AC&C claims it was concerned that their volunteers' privacy would be compromised, even though, not only does the Comptroller's Office have the authority per the City Charter (The DOH isn't big on following the law, are they?) and is required by law to keep them confidential, so, in reality, the AC&C didn't really have to worry about that, and was just stonewalling.

Even funnier is that in the report it states that initially, the AC&C claimed it was "legally entitled" to withhold information. When challenged, AC&C couldn't provide the legal basis for its claims.

I'm picturing Thomas Farley swearing he read it somewhere, while leafing through his copy of the City Charter, knowing he didn't read it anywhere, while several auditors are surrounding him. I can't blame him for trying.

Okay, some points about what the Comptroller's office was able to look into and did find...and my thoughts on it....

1 - Underfunding "plagues" the agency - True, and that's why the DOH has no business being in the animal budiness. They've run it (into the ground) since 1994 with no sign whatsoever that funding will ever be adequate (even with Bill 0655, funding is less than half what is needed per HSUS, and that assumes all the backloaded funding makes its way to the AC&C in 2014 - yeah, right)

2 - Auditors found cleaning procedures to be implemented - Huh? I guess the NYC Comptroller's Dept doesn't know how to google, or they'd find this story, among many others. My guess is that either they announced when they were doing an inspection, OR somehow the AC&C was tipped off.

3 - Sick Animals are Sometimes Separated From Healthy Animals - The AC&C actually disagreed with this, claiming they are always separated - How can they disagree? Either the auditors found it to be true and showed them, or they didn't, in which case, they wouldn't have included it on the report.

4 - Dogs are now being exercised - Huh? Again, looking back at this article, check this section out (Gentiles is Richard Gentiles, Director of Development and Communication)...

We obtained dog-walking schedules that show dogs not getting out for as long as 3 days.
WALLACE: So wait. It's not unusual to have a dog not being walked for three days?INSIDER: Not unusual.
"We want all of the dogs to be walked every day," Gentles said, admitting that it does not happen. "It's not acceptable. That's why we want volunteers to come into the volunteer program."

Again, maybe if they insisted to be able to speak to volunteers and/or staff without threat of termination, the auditors would've reported back differently.

Heck, they didn't even have to worry about speaking to current employees. A quick google search woulda given them someone to speak to who would be more than happy to point them in the right direction. I'm guessing they didn't get a chance to speak to former employees/volunteers like Emily Tanen or Jeff Latzer about that.

5 - Missing animals aren't always being investigated - I'm only bringing this up due to this excerpt -

"Forty four percent of missing animals were cases where foster care adopters did not return the animal to the shelter. AC&C's policy does not discuss procedures for investigating or acting on missing animals not returned by foster caretakers."

Good Lord...

Later, in their response to this point, the AC&C said, "The AC&C ... will update its Foster Care program guidelines to include investigation of missing foster care animals."

I hope this is already implemented as it shouldn't take more than a week, especially with all the new volunteers they claim to have thanks to their "revamped" program.

6 - They had a problem in 2006 with the "Level of Adoption Efforts," recommending that adoption services should be provided at the Queens and The Bronx receiving centers - In this audit, this finding was considered "no longer applicable" because the leases in The Bronx and Queens don't allow for adoptions there.

This is exactly why the DOH shouldn't be running the AC&C (Well, the fact they have sucked at getting funding for their non-profit is really why, but this is a secondary reason)...

God forbid they try other means of getting animals adopted - They refuse to think outside the box  - What about offsite adoption events? Why don't they have long-term partnerships as other rescues do (Why did they let the Petsmart partnership dissolve?). Why not have special events at the shelter (like a pitbull awareness class led by a pro bono trainer) to get people accustomed to the walking in the building. AC&C has to know that there is an element of emotional trauma to walking in a "kill" shelter for most animal loving adopters. 

7 -

That was from 2006, when they had five licensed vets and 25 vet techs.

In 2011, they have two licensed vets and 13 vet techs, and yet, the AC&C argued that this finding was unwarranted, I assume because they now have 14 unlicensed vet staff members, whereas they didn't have any in 2006.

To summarize, they have about the same number of total vet employees - they are just far less qualified than five years ago, when the staff was deemed insufficient. Mmmmkaaaay!!!!

8 - The auditors recommended that the in-house computer system (Chameleon) be changed so that it can distinguish between animals missing and/or lost in the agency's care or in the care of outside sources.

The AC&C's response? We agree that it's needed, but, hey, its not our system, we just lease it - If they wanna upgrade it, it's up to the lessor.

I dunno about you, but judging by their responses, I get the feeling Farley, Bank, et al really aren't into this whole animal saving thing.

I think you guys get the gist -

To summarize, this audit wasn't a real audit, merely a follow-up to an audit done five years ago, and yet, of the 13 recommendations made at that time, only seven were fully implemented (and I'm not sure that I agree that they were - the cages are clean?!? the volunteer program is robust?!?)

Thing is, does it really matter? Any and all deficiencies will continue to get swept under the rug as long as the DOH is in control of the AC&C.

Harris Bloom

btw - If you wanna read more about this joke of an audit, click here.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn Doing Excellent Jobs... At Screwing NYC Homeless Animals

Holy Crap...

That's all I can say...

I am writing this after everything went down so there's nothing left to do but recount the timeline of how it was politics as usual in NYC, and who lost out? Those who can't vote (or speak).

1994 - The ASPCA gives up ownership of the NYC shelter system because they didn't want to be so closely associated with the killing machine that was the NYC shelter system. 

You don't believe me? Read this. (That deserves it's own blog - How the ASPCA basically abandoned NYC's animals when they needed them most because it was a PR nightmare and was costing them donors)

1995 -  Animal Care & Control (ACC) is created by Mayor Giuliani and the Department of Health to take over the contract for animal control services. ACC is supposed to be an independent charity, but it was to be controlled and funded by the DOH.

April 2000 - The NYC Council passes a law, mandating new shelters be built for the two shelter-less boroughs - Queens and The Bronx. The law was passed following a scathing audit by the City Council’s Contracts Committee showing the inhumane conditions in the ACC’s overcrowded shelters.

2000 – The DOH budgets $7.8MM for running ACC. 2002 - Mayor Bloomberg gets an extension on building the new shelters.

2002 - The DOH allocates $8.5MM for the ACC.

2005 - The DOH allocates $8.1MM for AC&C.

2006 - Bloomie's extension passes...No one on the City Council says a word.

2009 - Animal rescue group Stray from the Heart says, "Eff this...You don't wanna obey the law, let's see what the courts have to say about it." They file a lawsuit, against the DOH and NYC, in hopes of forcing the city to obey it's law (I couldn't make this up if I tried).

Stray From The Heart won! A Superior Court Judge judge says the city must come up with plan to obey their own law!

NYC appeals (becaaaause...they don't want to follow their own law?)

April 2011 - NYC wins - For some reason, an appeals panel ruled that Stray from the Heart didn't have the "standing" to sue (if they don't, who does?)

SUMMER 2011 - Bloomie, Speaker Quinn, Councilmember Lappin, the ASPCA, and the Mayor's Alliance meet in a dark, smokey, backroom (I'm assuming) somewhere and upon emerging, announce Intro Bill 0655.

I'm not going to get into why this is a horrible bill, just read this statement from Stray from the Heart here.

The worst part of it  is because it reverses the law that the City Council passed in 2000, mandating shelters for Queens and The Bronx, two boroughs so large that population-wise, if they were cities, they'd be in the top 15 in the U.S.

A few other things stood out about this bill...

1 - The vast majority of the "new" funding is backloaded to fiscal 2014 - If anyone believes that the AC&C will see that money, I've got new shelters in Queens and The Bronx to sell ya, if ya get my drift.

2 - I put "new" in quotes because, not only does some of this "new" funding only gives back funds previously cut, if you take inflation into account, even if all the funding does come in, it barely makes it back to 2002 levels, when the shelter was killing about 70% of the animals that came in.

3 - Many don't think mandatory spay/neuter works.

4 - The fact that they are suddenly willing to give all this money to the ACC, given the dire economic straits that the city and the people in this city are in (I don't think links are needed here) tells me that things are even worse at the shelter than we previously imagined. I mean, we've read and saw stories about the filthy cages, animals being killed who weren't supposed to, a volunteer program without volunteers, dogs not being walked, and an executive director so enamored with power, that she's managed to alienate pretty much everyone, from her staff to rescue groups. Is there even more!??!

5 - This op-ed, by Ed Sayres (he runs the ASPCA), telling us why this bill is awesome, kills me. Especially these sentences...

Nevertheless, a few detractors are upset because the city did not agree to build animal shelters in Queens and in the Bronx. Let me be clear -- of course, I want the city to build animal shelters in the boroughs that currently do not have them. But the reality is that the city does not have to do this based on a recent appellate court's ruling (in re Stray from the Heart, Inc. v. Dep't of Health and Mental Hygiene of the City of New York, April 19, 2011) that a rescue group did not have standing to challenge the City's failure to open animal shelters in Queens and in the Bronx.

Given the appellate court's decision, I believe the agreement we brokered with the city has the animals' best interests at heart for the immediate future

This is funny to me because...

SEPTEMBER 2011 - Stray from the Heart convinces the NY Court of Appeals to hear their appeal from the mid-level decision. All of a sudden, it appears that our State’s highest court is verrrrrrrry interested in deciding whether a rescue group does have standing to sue a City for violating its own law. If Stray From the Heart wins the appeal, it means not only that it had standing, but that the City must build those shelters!!

So, now that the "reality" has changed, I assume Sayres will go back to his buddies (Bloomie, Quinn, Lappin et al) and tell them that he stands by his belief that the city needs the two new shelters and that they should amend the bill to remove the deletion of the law requiring NYC to build them. Right?

Wrong.... Instead...

 City Council fast-tracking bill to let city wriggle out of obligation to build animal shelters

(slaps my head)

which leads to this...


Excuse me while I vomit.

Harris Bloom

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ed Sayres (and the ASPCA) to NYC Animals: Drop Dead!

I think more needs to be said about this deal, which I (and others) have railed against, but none so eloquently as Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer here.

The vote to approve this deal is coming up and in order to drum up support for the deal that they apparently helped negotiate, I recently received this email from the ASPCA - 

Dear New York City Animal Advocates,

Annual budget cuts to New York City's Animal Care and Control (ACC) program have had a predictably negative effect on New York's citizens and our at-risk animals.

You used to be able to phone ACC to come rescue and shelter lost/stray animals found in the streets—that's no longer true. Animal receiving centers in the Bronx and Queens have been forced to cut back their hours, and now operate only one or two days a week. And slashed funding has meant a loss of jobs at the city's three shelters, making it harder for remaining staff to provide the best service possible to animals and potential adopters. We would like to stress that none of this is the fault of ACC employees—it is a simple matter of insufficient funding from the City.

It is time to correct the mistakes of the past and implement the type of animal control and sheltering programs to which a first-rate city like ours is entitled. 
We are excited to announce that Councilmember Jessica Lappin has introduced a bill that will restore vital programs and services and improve conditions at the city's ACC facilities. Along with this legislation (Intro. 655), the City will commit to increasing its investment in the shelters by millions of dollars over the next three years.

A well-funded animal control program creates jobs and decreases potential threats to public health and safety—it's good for both animals and New Yorkers. Please help us seize this opportunity to help New York City's animals!
What You Can Do
Please ask your City councilmember to support and cosponsor Intro. 655. 
Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center online, where we've provided a letter of support for NYC Intro. 655 that you can copy, edit to your liking and email to your councilmember. If you prefer, you may also print out the letter and mail to your councilmember. 

Why do I have a problem with this, Ed Sayres and the ASPCA? Let me count the ways...

1 - The main problem that animal advocates have with the "deal" is that it eliminates the law passed by the City Council in 2000 mandating shelters in Queens and the Bronx (two boroughs so large they would be in the top ten largest cities in the U.S. if they were cities)...and yet, nary a mention of this in the ASPCA's email blast. Reading the above statement makes it sound like you're an idiot if you are against it - Because they left out the downside (and boy, what a downside it is)

2 - In his Op-Ed piece, where Ed does mention the loss of the new promised shelters, he says, "...Let me be clear -- of course, I want the city to build animal shelters in the boroughs that currently do not have them. But the reality is that the city does not have to do this based on a recent appellate court's ruling (in re Stray from the Heart, Inc. v. Dep't of Health and Mental Hygiene of the City of New York, April 19, 2011) that a rescue group did not have standing to challenge the City's failure to open animal shelters in Queens and in the Bronx."


Who exactly does he think he's kidding? The whole "What can lil' ol' us do?" ain't fooling anyone who knows anything about the animal rescue business. The ASPCA has a LOT of pull, thanks to a huge and well-funded PR department (They helped kill Oreo's Law, for example) And just as they helped negotiate this deal behind the scenes, they can get together with their buddies at Maddie's Fund, Best Friends, and whom ever else (maybe talk to Hemsley's dog), and get these needed shelters financed. 


3. They quoted the Stray from the Heart lawsuit... If the ASPCA agrees that the shelters are necessary, then why didn't THEY take up the lawsuit. With their powers, couldn't they do an inspection, and conclude that the existing shelters are dangerously insufficient? I would think that even the threat of such a lawsuit from the highly respected ASPCA would force NYC to do something to fix the situation.


4. Just as they helped facilitate this backroom deal, they can do another, basically threatening NYC that they will expose the freaking nightmare that is the NYC shelter system (and believe me, they know that it is a disaster) if they don't do something more drastic to help the animals (like, you know, build another shelter or two). All he'd have to do is get his buddies together and threaten to drop their funding if something isn't done. Heck, it wont be hard to Maddie's fund to threaten it, as the ACC routinely breaks their agreement not to kill for space.

5 - His statement that the problems are due to a "simple matter of insufficient funding from the city" is bullshit as well. Horrendous mismanagement (8 ED's in 8 years? 'nuf said) and a BOD that exists only to serve Bloomberg's interests are the real problem. Is the ACC underfunded? Yes, ridiculously so... but it wont be adequately funded until the main problem is fixed, and that's breaking off the ACC from the DOH (as Mr. Stringer suggests). 

6 - Sayres isn't an idiot. He KNOWS what's going on between the walls at the ACC to the poor animals (Even Wikipedia knows). The question becomes why doesn't the ASPCA use their powers of enforcement to bring the real situation to light and maybe make revolutionary change rather than keep spinning the usual politically tinged pr about things getting better?

I think if they actually went in and documented what was going on, they'd have no choice but to take over... something they desperately wouldn't want to do (they had a miserable time running it thru 1995).

Anyway, I'm tired. 

Long story short (I know, too late!), the ASPCA and Sayres are accomplices to this "deal" and the maintenance of the status quo (i.e. DOH oversight), which, as long as it remains, means death to way too many of NYC's animals.

Harris Bloom

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn Are Horrible People

First of all, sorry I am late to writing about this, but I was busy dealing with kidney stones, and lemmee tell ya...holy crap are those painful! I wouldn't wish those on anyone...okay, maybe a couple of people.

So... this came out last week -

My guess is that the first take on that headline for most people who aren't familiar with the history and current situation of the city shelter is, "Gee, how awesome!"

Of course, those of us who are privy to such things thought, "Hmmm... I smell a rat."

And, as expected, we were correct. The devil is in the details (or, in this case Gracie Mansion)....

To those who want to hear why with agreement sucks but don't really need to hear a long-winded numbers heavy (hey, I'm a numbers guy!), lemmee tell ya with a hypothetical situation....

What if a group of people set fire to building, knowing there were 100 people in there. Then, while the fire was raging, they ran in and saved three people, with the rest dying. When the news cameras arrived, they were interviewed, and congratulated each other on saving those three lives.

THAT is what is happening here. Again, not gonna get into details, but the budget this year, which has been slashed several times in previous years, is the SAME as it was 16 years ago! And it was considered too low then! The point being - They are "cash-strapped" because they the city doesn't grant them any money! And now, they dare claim to be coming to the rescue?!?

btw - I wish I were making this up.

So, now, Bloomberg, Quinn, the ASPCA, and The Mayor's Alliance are falling over each other with congratulations for taking a step in the right direction. At least they are doing that, right? Stepping in the right direction?

Um, no. Not even close.

Here's the key sentence in their press release (which laughably includes the phrase "agreement to enhance services for shelter animals.")...

With the agreement, the Health Department will no longer have a legal obligation to build and maintain full-service shelters in every borough, only to maintain the existing shelters in Staten Island, Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Yup, the devil in the details...

But seriously, they've gotta be shittin' me!

In 2000, The City Council passed a law requiring the city to build shelters in two boroughs which didn't have shelters (The Bronx and Queens) - The city, under animal hater Mike Bloomberg, managed to defy said law for the past ten years, and now, has gotten animal hater Christine Quinn to help change the law (The fact that animals don't vote prolly has a lot do with this, which makes them horrible people), with an assist from The Mayor's Alliance and the ASPCA (nice work guys! btw - as a side note, any time the big boys get together on anything, assume the worst - I'm surprised the Humane Society hasn't come out with a big thumbs-up for this "deal" as well)

So, thanks to this backroom "deal," the largest two boroughs in NY, which, if cities, would both be in the top ten in the United States in population, will have no city-run animal shelters.

Congratulations are definitely in order!

Rock On,

Harris Bloom

Monday, August 1, 2011

Get Yer T-Shirts Hea! Get Yer Red-Hot T-Shirts! Only 20 bucks!

Yup, we finally have t-shirts! They're only twenty bucks each (FREE SHIPPING!)

We have from sizes small to Extra Large....

You can buy via paypal on our homepage....

This is our Director of Mixology Erin Garmont, and her pup Wilson, sporting the very latest in Stewie Fashion...


Rock On,


Monday, July 18, 2011

Top Ten Pit Bull Myths Debunked!

There is so much misinformation about Pit bulls out there, I have decided to set the record straight...

1 - Pit Bulls' favorite drink is is the Strawberry Margarita.


It's Tanqueray and Tonic!

2 - Pit Bulls are good at math.


It's art history that they excel in (especially Staffies)!

3 - Most Pit Bulls are Republicans.


63% are registered Democrats!

4 - Pit Bulls can eat twice their weight in butterscotch pudding.


It's Lime Jello!

5 - A Pit Bull was the first dog on the moon.


Sally, an American Pit Bull Terrier was the THIRD dog on the moon (FYI- Alonzo, a chocolate Lab, and Peanut, a hairless chihuahua preceded her).

6 - Pit Bulls are notoriously poor at golf.


While most have natural slices, that can easily be corrected with proper training.

(btw - They are also excellent bowlers and squash players - not great skiers, though)

7 - A Pit Bull invented those hand held fans that also spray water.


But a Pit Bull did invent the tricycle.

8 - Most Pit Bulls' favorite TV show is Pit Boss or Pit Bulls and Parolees.


It's Dancing with the Stars!

9 - Pit Bulls' favorite music is country, especially Johnny Cash and Trisha Yearwood.


Pit Bulls' adore hair metal, especially Motley Crue and Queensryche.

10 - Pit Bulls can not be taught to use a knife and fork.


...oh wait, that's right. I mean, come on!

Rock On,


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Verrazano Bridge Kitten

I dunno if you you heard about this news item last week - the kitten that was thrown from a car on the Verrazano Bridge - Even Whoopi Goldberg has weighed in. A terrific story, that kitten has no idea how lucky he is to be alive. For more reasons than you think....

First, lets watch this video of Executive Director Julie Bank discussing said kitty....

Watched it? Excellent!

Now, let's discuss what she did right in this, and why I sometimes hate knowing too much (this sounds egotistical, but it's not, you'll see...)

What Julie did right....

1 - The said the "most important thing" to take from this is that if you don't want your pet, bring them to a shelter - Though I do realize that the person who did this may've not wanted to rid themselves of this kitten as much as wanted to commit a crime, I'm sure there are others out there who just leave their pets in the "wild" - Heck, that's how I found our second dog.

2 - She asks for anyone who has info about who may've done this to come forward. I dont' know if they will, but, knowing that this kind of cruelty will lead to serious consequences may make some think twice about it.

3 - She asks for donations. You would think this is a no-brainer, but it isn't, given Animal Care & Control's (ACC) history.

4 - She asks for fosters to step forward. Part of the problem at ACC is that there is no room (let's forget that a lot of that is due to the ACC/DOH/NYC) for is what it is - for now). A call for fosters will only help (I'm sure many don't even realize they can foster dogs or cats - Three years ago, I didn't).

So, I'm sure you don't hear this often (well, other than from the BOD when you cut staff/services and phone lines to balance the budget), but good job on those counts, Julie Bank!

Now, here's why it sucks knowing so damn much...

Julie mentions not once, but twice, how the ACC staffer who happened to see the incident was "at the right place at the right time." While I don't think she did that on purpose, I do think even she realizes what would've happened to that cat if the staffer didn't see the person throw the cat from the car.

UPDATE - Thanks to a comment I read (see first comment), I think it may be possible that by saying this staffer was "at the right place at the right time," Julie was attempting to minimize Mr. Ocasio's contribution, which would make sense given that she seems to feel that all staffers/volunteers are expendable (even given the shortage of said staffers/volunteers)

Assuming the poor kitten made it off the bridge alive, she would have probably been killed, whether she came in as a stray, or God forbid, an owner surrender.

1 - If that kitten had been an ordinary stray (i.e. someone found her and brought her into the ACC), it would be treated like any other orphan kitten. The moment it entered a shelter it would be exposed to, among other things, a cold virus, and probably gotten an upper respiratory infection. If it has to be bottle fed, they can't do that at the shelter. No staff no volunteers. The kitten would have to be held for three days in case an owner shows up. If no owner comes, then she probably would be killed since she'd be sick and/or starving.

2 - If the cat had been surrendered, she may've been killed the day after she was surrendered. The ACC has decreed that as long as the animal appears on the "kill list" for one night, it reserves the right to kill the animal the next day. There is no hold period because there's no doubt about who the owner is.

(In the old days, shelter managers could have owner surrenders killed right away.Two and on-half years ago, volunteers convinced management that every animal to be killed should appear on a kill list sent to rescuers.The kill lists go out at 5 PM every day.)

If an animal arrives on day 1 and is included on the evening euth list, it can be killed the next morning.

Couple of other points about her speech - She said that they were able to give the kitty "some good food ....some good" - Good thing this didn't occur last year when the ACC almost ran out of food and had to go public with donation requests! Also, I'm curious how much love the other strays get, given that she's hellbent on firing all the volunteers who care.

Rock On,


Monday, July 11, 2011


Hypothetical Question for ya....

YOU have just been hired to run a shelter (Congrats!). It was a high-kill shelter before you arrived, mainly pitties and adult cats. The shelter is underfunded and there is a daily issue of where to keep all the animals(Congrats?).

Another non-profit organization supplies a large portion of your funding, but only on the condition that you do not kill any healthy animals.

On your first day, you find out that your shelter is killing animals because they have kennel cough or similar easily treatable ailments. Someone tells you, off the record, that it is a necessary evil because there isn't space, and if you blow the whistle on your own shelter, you will lose needed funding.

What do you do?

Rock On,


btw - Come back tomorrow, we'll be discussing this video...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Boycotting michael vick Inc. - How Far Will You Go?

Recently, with the announcements that vick (i refuse to capitalize his name) won the BET/Subway Sportsman of the Year award and was signed to a Nike endorsement contract, animal advocates/fans have announced boycotts of BET, Nike and Subway.

I understand why people do it, heck, I am participating myself, but here's the thing - The only time I watch BET is when Juice is being rerun, I really don't care what sneakers I buy, and I eat (errr, ate) at Subway maybe twice a month, and quite frankly, never crave it - I can just as easily go to Blimpie's/Quiznos/Whereever. Point being, I'm not really sacrificing much, and, not really hurting the corporations who are on team vick by boycotting them (don't get me started on how useless writing e-mails/calling them is).

Now, if we dig a little deeper into it, Nike owns Converse, Cole Haan, and Umbro - How many knew that and are boycotting those too?

Still with me?

What about the Philadelphia Eagles' corporate sponsors? Are you boycotting Pepsi (which also owns Gatorade/Tropicana/Lays/Quaker/Aquafina/etc), Budweiser, US Airways, Miller Lite, Verizon?

I also hear that Coke may sign him to a deal. Will you boycott Pepsi and Coke?

Not as easy, huh?

Slightly tangential, what about the fact that President Obama (in a cowardly move, in my opinion) congratulated the Eagles owner (after vick already was already in the league for two years) for taking a chance on him. Do you now not vote for him? What is he's running against (gasp!) Sarah Palin, someone who not only hunts, but brags about it?

And finally, what if you have a good friend, not really an animal lover, but certainly not an animal hater - What if this person is a big Philadelphia Eagles, or Nike fan? You tell them about the boycott, and they tell you that while they understand why you are doing it, they fell along the (ridiculous) lines of Nike (i.e. They dont care). How does that affect your relationship?

Me? I will do my best to boycott all associated products. In fact, I will use it as an opportunity to improve my health. For example, I drink a soda or two a day. I will stop drinking Pepsi (and Pepsi subsidiaries) now, and if Coke follows through and endorses him, I will give up soda.

I know Dunkin Donuts used to be an Eagles sponsor. They haven't responded to my email. Can anyone verify whether they are or not? I go to Dunkin at least once a day, some days up to four times (I have a day job/comedy job/writing/animal rescue/two dogs/six month old baby - 'nuff said)...I will definitely give that up if they are still sponsoring Eagles games. That will be sacrifice!

Rock On,


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Your Choice...

Your wealthy uncle has passed away (sorry!).

He has made you executor of his estate, and has left you with a ridiculous decision to make, the kind only imagined by Presidents of animal rescues and comedians -

ANYWAY, you can either give $1 million dollars to the ACC OR $500,000 to your favorite animal rescue/shelter. Which will it be?

This may be a leading question but would your answer be different if the ACC weren't an extension of the City's Department of Health?

Rock On,


Friday, July 1, 2011

If Yer Bored....

I used to write a personal blog here. Since my wife and I had a dog (or two), there were several dog-related posts you guys may be interested in. So, if yer bored, here's a link to them -


(some may be repeats)

Anyway, Happy 4th, and don't forget...

You Are Either Part Of The Problem Or Part Of The Solution.

Rock On,


Thursday, June 30, 2011

What Would YOU Do?

Okay folks...Here's a rhetorical question for y'all (Not sure why I write with a southern accent, when if you watched this video, you can tell I'm Queens, NY, through and through). Anyway....

Congratulations! For some reason, even though the BOD knows you won't kowtow to their wishes, they have annointed you as the new Executive Director of the Animal "Care" and Control!

What would be your first order of business?

For purposes of this question, let's say that the Julie Banks reign never existed, so don't answer anything related to reversing her decisions, like rehiring Emily/Jeff/Derek, giving volunteers access to CHAM, etc. (Cause I KNOW what everyone would say some form of that!)

Rock On,


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Julie Bank

The vitriol towards Julie Bank seems to be approaching Michael Vick level among animal lovers.

Here's a question for ya -

Is the relationship beyond repair?

What if, and I highly doubt her ego will allow for this, but what if, she made a public statement, expressing sorrow for the way has she handled things, reinstated Emily/Jeff, and promised to hold town hall type meetings with the animal rescue community?

Would that suffice? Or, are her crimes (not sure whether to put that in quotes) so egregious that her Reign of (T)error can not be salvaged?

What do you think?

Rock On,

Harris Bloom

Wall Street Accountant Takes Down ACC Board

Um, this is me...

Rock On,


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What Do YOU Think?

Okay, we finally have the money for t-shirts - We will have the Stewie to the Rescue logo on the left chest area. Here's the question - Should we have any writing on the back?
A - No
B - Yes, it should say "I Am Stewie's Army"
C - Yes, it should say "This T-shirt Saved An Animal"
D - Yes, it should say "Part of the Solution"  (Because I like to say "you are either part of the problem or part of the solution)
E - Something else?
Leemee know!
Also, TONIGHT! - Come out to Gotham Comedy Club for our fundraiser with Eve's Sanctuary! 8 PM start!
Here are the deets -
Virtually Yours,

Harris Bloom

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Why You Should Vote For Stewie to the Rescue!

Our friends at Don't Be Cruel are having a vote-off on Facebook to give away $2,600 to worthy animal rescues/shelters in the NY/NJ area. Stewie to the Rescue has made the Top Ten Final Round and starting Monday, May 9th, we ask that everyone on Facebook vote for us. Here is why....

All animal rescues are important.

Let's get that out of the way. Spending time, and often our own money, trying to save animals (and speak on their behalf), is doing God's work. There's no doubt about it.

In that respect, it's silly to "rank" the various rescues on some "Importance Scale." But I will say, if there was such a thing, Stewie to the Rescue, would rank extremely high. Why?

We not only help other rescues with their dogs (by providing funding for medical care and training); we also help pet owners keep their pets.

How are we doing this? We work with the Low Cost Vet Mobile that is stationed outside the Manhattan A.C.C. twice a week and the Brooklyn A.C.C. once a week. I visited them a few months ago. Here is my post about that visit...

The owner (Garo Alexanian) has told me that many times, the people who can't afford his already discounted medical treatment, end up surrendering their pets to the shelter. Since these animals are sick, surrenders (so the shelter knows no one is going to come looking for them), often times middle aged or seniors (making them harder to place), are often immediately euthanized.

So, not only has the pet died, but the owner has lost their companion and family member... and anyone who has lost a pet knows how devastating that can be (I know I do).

While we take pride in helping rescues keep animals alive, we take special pride in keeping animals alive AND with their family. We are helping people too.

Being new (operational since mid 2010), we don't have any big money behind us...the vast majority of our funding comes from monthly comedy shows that I produce (Join our mailing list at to get updates!) and an occasional bar social.

Our bank account is dangerously low. If anyone calls this week with a request, I'd have to either turn them down or pay for it out of my own, we can really use the donation.


Harris Bloom
Stewie to the Rescue Inc.

P.S. Though I don't know eight of the other rescues/shelters in this contest, I do know Almost Home Animal Shelter and will vouch for them as well. Nancy Welsh has big plans for them and I'd love to see them come to fruition.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Jealous of My Dog

Kilo, my pittie, is a scavenger. I always have to keep a keen out when walking him as he'll eat ANYTHING on the ground.

This morning, for example, he ate one of those Entenmann's powdered cinnamon donuts that someone had dropped. I was pretty angry when he wouldn't drop it.

I LOVE those Entenmann's powdered cinnamon donuts.

Rock On,

Harris Bloom
Founder and President

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Stewie Related TV Appearance!

Hey all,

I've been on TV once with Stewie, here.

Though Stewie has passed, his star is still shining bright.

Ya know that reality show LA Ink? Well, they're doing a NY spin-off. I forget what it's called.

Oh, yeah, NY Ink.

ANYWAY, the show starts in June, and a certain someone just might be appearing on an episode getting a tattoo of a certain animal rescue that he Founded and is President of.


Stay Tuned...

Virtually Yours,

Harris Bloom
Founder and President

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

This Revolution Will Be Blogged

Hey all (two of you),

There's new blogging sheriff in town...

Blogging responsibilities have changed hands here at Stewie to the Rescue to me, Harris Bloom, the Founder and President.

I used to blog for my stand-up career and writing career HERE if you wanna check it out.

A little about me - I have a wife, four month old baby, two dogs (Kilo, a pittie, and River, a cockapoo - both rescues), a day gig doing accounting (meh), I work as a stand -up comic and writer at night (yay!) and I run Stewie to the Rescue. If you wanna read Stewie's story, click here.

I will be blogging everything animal- and Stewie related every two or three days, so please come back and check it out!

Also, I wanna thank Carl Catania for his blogging work - Good luck with your new ventures Carl!


Harris Bloom

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mark Zuckerberg's dog miffs writer....

Good morning and a fine Hump Day to all of you. 

I don't know if you folks are feeling it like I am, but there is an element of spring in the air.  Yes, I know technically in a little under two weeks we are going to be in Spring, but its closing in and I, for one, am quite happy about kissing this crappy winter bye-bye.

With the better weather coming, many people are going to make it a point to be outside more, shortening their time on social sites and actually getting some exercise.

Speaking of social sites, Mark Zuckerberg (The Facebook Guy) is taking some flack as of late regarding his dog and Facebook sign-up policies.  Primarily, a Chinese activist is frustrated in regard to the sign-up policy and essentially points out that Zuckerberg's dog has representation, but he is unable to present himself as he likes.

You can read the article by clicking HERE.

Also in the news, we've got a very big Comedy Fundraiser coming up next week.  The last one was a sell-out and a blast, so don't miss out on this one...

Door admission and raffle proceeds go ENTIRELY to needy animals.  Don't miss out!!!  Make your reservation now!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

They've got an App for that.....

Good afternoon (morning), all.  Hope you've enjoyed your weekend thus far and have made the most of it.  I've tried to, and with the exception of some mixed drinks that slightly disagreed with me, I'd say I've done pretty well for myself.

Technology.  Gotta love it.  Remember when computers used to make that "Skuuushhh...beep...beeeep" sound when going online?  Remember Atari?  Remember when heating up pizza used to take like 15 minutes?  If you do, you're old like me.  If you don't, you're spoiled by technology.

Speaking of being spoiled, how cool is that there are apps for everything these days?  Every time you blink there seems to be some new, cutting edge, uber-amazing feature that you can't live without.

Progression is great and speaking of which, for all you fellow dog-lovers out there, HERE'S AN ARTICLE that highlights some great apps that can really give some great info to you guys.  Check it out, its pretty cool.

Know what else is really cool?  Our upcoming comedy benefit!  Its coming up very soon and you need to make a note on your calendar, your rolodex, your electronic scheduler, or simply post a note on your fridge.

Note that admission cost goes ENTIRELY to aiding needy animals and their owners.

No better way to have a fun time, than to also know you're supporting a great cause.

Don't miss it!


Friday, March 4, 2011

Charlie Sheen has a dog.....

That's right, Charlie Sheen does have a dog, his own hot dog.  I know...what a blatant attempt to use today's headlines to lure you to our humble site.  You're right, but we got you, didn't we? lol.

Anyhow, it is true.  Charlie does have his own hot dog, which is dripping with "Tiger's blood."  You can read about it right HERE.

Moving on...we've got lots cooking over here with Stewie to the Rescue.  Our last comedy fundraiser was a packed house and we want to thank you for that.  We also would like you to take a brief look at some of the particular help efforts we've been part of.  CLICK HERE to view.

As much as we'd like to say that we can rest on our laurels, the battle is hardly over and we still need your support.  The admission costs of your attendance at these shows goes entirely to help needy animals, as we are not for profit.  Please continue coming.

Our next show is....

Please come out, laugh, and make a difference in a needy animal's life.



P.S. - Look for us and "Like us" on FACEBOOK.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Blind Leading the Blind....

Morning, everyone.  A very good Monday to you.  Hope you all enjoyed your weekends.

Came across a really great story depicted on THIS youtube clip.  Essentially, a blind man's seeing eye dog began leading him astray and he found out that the poor dog was having vision problems and needed immediate care.  Check out the video and see what happens...don't worry...its a happy ending.

For those of you who don't know....we often run fantastic comedy benefits for needy animals.  Our last benefit at Gotham comedy club was a great success....a sell out, actually.  We raised some great funds, gave away some awesome raffles, but we still need your help.

Our next show is coming up and we need you to come!  Tell a friend(s)!!!