Sunday, February 19, 2012

An Open Letter To Speaker Sheldon Silver

Speaker Silver,

I'm sure that by now you've not only heard from hundreds (thousands?) of people regarding bill No. A05449A, that was sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin.

I'm not going to bother explaining to you why it's a poor bill, especially when there is a much better bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Micah Kellner, that has been circulating for months, because I'm sure that you've already heard the pros and cons of both bills (and by much smarter people than I!)

Actually, I merely have questions - Questions that I have asked the ASPCA but they have not answered. I am hoping that you can get an answer -

1 - Why did the ASPCA decide to suddenly write a bill when there was a bill designed to save more animals, and help make better shelters already written? It's almost like they are begging for us to compare them and I'm sure that you will.

2 - If they didn't like aspects Assemblyman Kellner's bill, why didn't they work with Assemblyman Kellner to re-work his? I don't know Mr. Kellner, but I'm guessing he knows that most (all?) bills are passed after differing sides compromise.

3 - Why did the ASPCA craft its bill (and let's face it, it's THEIR bill) on its own, without discussing its contents with any of the other leading rescue groups. Already, several large groups (including the highly respected national organization Best Friends Animal Society) have come out diametrically opposed to it, while supporting CAARA (Assemblyman Kellner's bill)

4 - The ASPCA has already said they are in the process of changing the wording of their bill, and that they can understand why people are "freaking out" (this is what their representative told me on their Facebook page). The obvious question is why didn't they realize that it was so poorly written before? Why were they in such a rush to get this passed (before Assemblyman Kellner's bill) that not one person who read it in their organization realized what their bill would mean? I mean, why didn't it freak any of them out?

Furthermore, they have not said that they are changing the wording of the part of their bill that gives shelters the right to not work with certain rescue groups. They claim it is due to hoarding concerns but in reality, here in NYC, that would result in the already notoriously difficult-to-work-with regime more difficult to work with as they (Julie Bank, the executive director, specifically) have already threatened the access of rescue groups, solely for speaking out about conditions that they've witnessed within the shelters.

Are they going to amend that part too?

5 - And finally, why are the vast majority of the animal rescue community/advocates for CAARA and against the ASPCA bill, while the only groups that I hear supporting the ASPCA bill are shelters that have high kill rates?

I think you for taking the time to read this, and hope that with your position that you can get the answers that I couldn't.

Respectfully Yours,

Harris Bloom

Monday, February 6, 2012

Upper East Side Working Mom Lets The AC&C Board Have It!

I wasn't the only one giving it to the NYC Animal Care and Control Board at their meeting last week -

Here's self-described Upper East Side Working Mom Felicia Greenfield giving it to 'em...

Great job Felicia!!!

Rock On,

Harris Bloom

How Being Involved In Animal Rescue Affects Reading To My Baby

My wife and I have a one year old thirteen month old daughter named Zadie at home and we've started to read to her. Gotta tell you, it's tough not to get into "Animal Rescue Mode" with some of these books....

"'Who's behind the comfy blankets?!?' (Turns page) 'Playful Puppies!! Woof woof!!' I assume these pups aren't at a puppy mill in Lancaster or there's no way the business owners would allow them out of their feces strewn cages! In fact, they'd be bred until no longer serviceable at which point they would be killed!"

"'A baby horse is called a foal!' I'm not sure where this takes place but I hope this foal doesn't end up as a carriage horse in NYC, where she will be expected to work for long hours in extreme temperatures and then have to make it back to the stable on Manhattan's West Side, navigating past rush hour traffic to do so!"

"'The cow goes 'Moooooo!' But not for long as there's a good chance it will end up on a dinner plate! Do you know what you aren't seeing in this picture? Animals killed for food are neglected, kept in filthy conditions, and often slaughtered in painful ways, such as having their throats cut while fully conscious."

 What? You want mommy to read from now on?

Harris Bloom

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Oooops, I Did It Again!

Here's the vid of me at the latest NYC Animal Care and Control Board of Directors meeting (They may not let me in anymore, between this and the last time)...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Review of the NYC Animal Care and (Mostly) Control Board Meeting - January 31, 2012

Yesterday, I attended my second NYC Animal Care and Mostly Control (AC&C) BOD meeting. I made a bit of a splash at the last one, making over 700 new Facebook friends (97% wife loves it!).

How did this one go? Read on...

First of all, the Powers That Be at the AC&C gave us about a week's notice. Of course they knew when they were to meet before that, but they wanted to ensure as weak a turnout as possible. And even then, it was posted in a section of their website that a forensic scientist couldn't find. Well played AC&C!

I got there at 8:30 AM for the 10:00 AM meeting for two reasons -

1. The last meeting was a bit of a clusterfcuk as many who did not get there early were unable to get in. Now, while I knew this meeting was in a larger room, I was still worried that the animal rescue community would should up in droves in spite of the AC&C's best efforts, and

2. Since they were allowing public comments on a first come-first served basis, and the amount of time allocated to public comments was shorter than usual, I wanted to make sure that I had my say...

To my shock, I was the first person there. Friend and Shelter Reform Action Committee Executive Esther Koslow soon joined me. It soon became obvious to me that for whatever reason, turnout amongst the animal rescue community would be down from the previous year. Some blamed the time, but as I recall, last years' was also in the middle of a workday, no?

The unfortunate thing is that some people on Facebook spend a lot of time wondering how to create a buzz about our mission, and here we were, with media in the room (I saw someone from The Daily News), a perfect opportunity to be heard, and few showed up. Then again, I can't blame people who need to work to survive (I took a half of a vacation day from my job - some vacation day!)

The BOD agreed to amend it's by-laws, as required by new law, to admit two new Board members. They didn't announce who these people will be but I'm sure these two two members will be completely independent animal lovers and vote according to their heart. Ahem...

Then we were treated to Julie Bank telling us about the state of the shelter. One fascinating aspect was how she explained that intakes were dramatically down over the past year or two, and euthanasia was down (btw - her speech will be on YouTube soon). She neglected to mention that in the middle of 2010, the AC&C stopped rescuing cats and cut its field operations in general. I'm no genius, but I'm guessing this would result in fewer intakes, and therefore, fewer animals to be euthanized. I wouldn't expect her to mention that, nor would I expect the Board to question her about. I wasn't disappointed.

Then again, the BOD had zero questions for ANYONE who spoke, including Julie, their internal accountant and external auditor. I'd like to think it's because they are always questioning Julie and her cohorts, but I know better.

One bright spot of the poor community support was the amount of respect given to the various speakers. Last time, there were a lot of interruptions, and quite frankly, even though I understand our frustrations, it was a little embarrassing and unproductive.

Another bright spot was the quality of speakers when we reached the public comment part. My speech (rant?) will be on YouTube shortly, but there were several extremely eloquent and heartfelt speakers, including a woman from (I think) Second Chance Rescue (who brought the ashes of a dog she rescued from the AC&C that was healthy when going in, but had parvo upon exiting), a mom and dog owner from the Upper East Side (that's how she described herself), and someone who simply wanted to adopt a dog from the AC&C, and got such a runaround, you'd think the staff there gets paid according to how many people they can anger.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that although the BOD sat in stone-faced silence the entire meeting, no matter who was speaking, that Patrick Nolan and Bruce Doniger came into the audience after the meeting was over, and actually seemed to listen to people who wanted a minute of their time. It's kind of bizarre that I would feel the need to mention that (It's kinda like when we're shocked when a professional athlete or famous actor does something "nice"), but I guess it's something.

Rock On,

Harris Bloom