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 now...it 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 water...love" - 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,



Anonymous said...

She also did the worst thing of all, which is miss the opportunity to showcase the driver who saved the kitten. This driver has a long, long, list of saves just like this, is one of the most universally beloved employees in AC&C history, and has a compelling backstory as he came from tragic circumstances and raised himself up to be the true hero that he is. I know it sounds like I'm nitpicking so that Julie can do nothing right, but I honestly and truly believe her appeal lacked the emotional power it could have had if Mr. Ocasio had been asked to speak instead. As soon as I heard that an AC&C driver stopped traffic to get a kitten tossed out on the bridge, I knew it was him.

And, of course, there is also the fact that kittens were euthanized just yesterday for being too young to eat on their own, and AC&C could have gotten an email blast out the very next day with some semi-professional photos of the other babies people could save if they were more on the ball. They didn't.

I give this segment a C+.

Anonymous said...

She's also an awful, flat, inarticulate public speaker. Richard would have done a better job.

Stewie to the Rescue! said...


You are correct in that having the segemnt shared with Mr. Ocasio (I didn't even know who it was - If someone emails me, I will have ablog devoted to him), not only would it put a place a face to the volunteers and god forbid, get more people to volunteer, but it woul have perhaps helped morale, as it woulda been cool for him to show his family and friends what he does, and why he does it.

I don't know much about Richard, other than he was once arrested for perjury (ironic given that he is now their unofficial "spokesman," no?). The charges were dropped, and interestingly (suspiciously?) enough, it's tough to find any record of it on the Internet.

Anonymous said...

Here is spbr's piece on Brendon. This guy once cut a panicked pitbull from a heavy chain on the roof of a building in Harlem during a thunderstorm. The dog was named after him and he visited it every day until it got rescued. He is the gold standard of AC&C employees and they could have undone a TON of bad press if Julie would only loosen her death grip and get some empathy:

Stewie to the Rescue! said...

That's really awesome - I'm sure there are also dozens (hundreds?) of NY'ers just like Brendon who want to help if just given the chance.

Melissa Judd said...

First, let me say that I have read every single post, both here and on the blog and think collectively we all have something constructive to add towards this issue. However, while I appreciate the fact that Harris is trying to bring a sense of civility to the table and cast our crusade (if you will) into a better light to those that may label or think of us as just one-sided and hell bent to destroy that of which we fight so vehemently to defend, I must respectfully disagree.

Even if we, for all intents and purposes, gave benefit to Julie for what you/we think she did right during this pre-recorded (is that correct?) PR video, would it really change anything? It seems pretty transparent on our part I think, as if almost forced; which can come across as "plastic", as someone referred, to that of which we are accusing Julie of being. Isn't it better just to show others our true light, our true initiative and the fact that we would love nothing more than to create a system in which all healthy, treatable animals are processed for adoption by collaborating with the ACC/DOH? Do we really think that if we "give" a little that we'll "get" a little? I'm not so certain that strategy would pay off and then where would we be, sacrificing our values and weakening our fight I'm afraid. No, I think we should keep forging ahead; albeit, making sure that we collect, record and argue valid issues with a good solid front.

I definitely agree with Harris, and I'm sure we're not alone, when he says that the biggest problem is not Julie. I've been using the term "figurehead" for a while now. Let’s see, 8 ED's in 8 years is it? That isn't too hard to figure out now. And, even though they won't fire her before her contract expires it should still be embarrassing and telling of just how dire this situation is, and not in terms of their spin to the public on it, but rather the insurmountable corruption that exists so that no matter who the figurehead is in that position it will fail unless complete reform is accomplished.

So, how do we go about bringing change to this insurmountable corruption? By continuing to forge ahead!! Wasn't it Winograd that said --you cannot bring forth change unless you are first honest with what the problem is? I think the problem that plagues us is our conscious because we know that if we continue to forge ahead then funding, thus animals, may be affected; I believe Harris pointed this out. Obviously, they realize this and they're using it to their advantage. But, it doesn't HAVE to be affected; they could work with our initiative instead of against us. Besides, isn't their No-Kill initiative suppose to be the same as ours??? According to Madie's Fund policy granting it is. BTW, has everyone read the "2010 Dramatic Progress Toward a No-Kill NYC" Report? Here's my problem with their No-Kill initiative plan...what plan?? What exactly is the laid out plan to achieve this No-Kill status by 2015? They receive one of the biggest, if not the biggest, grants from Madie's Fund for progressing towards this status, yet to much of the public it is unknown what the marked milestones are suppose to be for achieving this status. The above report doesn't help with clarity either; it's vague at best, missing the who, what, why and most importantly the HOW factors of detailing this plan. It looks pretty at a glance though! ;)

I could go into a debate (not personal, we're on the same side, just using it as another perspective) and offer alternatives against what Harris listed as "the things she did get right", but is that really the point?? What real purpose would it serve, I don't know.

Stewie to the Rescue! said...

Hey Melissa,

My intention is showing what she did right, was not to extend an olive branch - not at all.

My list was factual (at least, as I see it).

And quite frankly, I may be grading her on a curve given her poor history of public speaking (like her appearance on the news last month - or two months ago - when she explained why she doesnt like people on Facebook giving out animal info, which was a disaster)


Anonymous said...

Sooo, I volunteer at a shelter sometimes, and they take cats and dogs out of ACC who are on the list to be euthanized. Well today I found out that Banks may have some explaining to do, because they won't tell anyone about the whereabouts of this kitten. It might have been accidentally euthanized. I REALLY hope it's not true, but like I said, they refuse to tell anyone what happened to the cat except "it was adopted" but provide no evidence of it.
With that said, these shelters need some serious reforming, and the first reform is to get rid of her. You should see her history of shelter work.