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


Lauree French said...

First and ARE a genius.

Secondly, Harris...many of us trying to help are out of state. I, personally, am doing time in Massachusetts right now (not literally). If I was still in the motherland, I would have been there, and most certainly would not have been able to speak as effectively as you...but I would be a 'body'. What can we do to help?

Mauigirl said...

Thanks so much for the update, I look forward to seeing the Youtube video of your "rant." Thank you so much for all you do.

Anne-Marie said...

Thanks for going to support the animals. Can't wait to hear your speech on Youtube.

Stewie to the Rescue! said...

Thanks all...

Lauree - Yeah, I hear ya - Since yer in MA, ya cant cant it in person...but you still can make your voice heard by writing to The Powers That Be (I'm sure you're familiar with the Urgent Part 2 group on Facebook - They just wrote a letter that is meant for all to send to the BOD, sharing our outrage at the sham of a shelter inspection that Julie Bank orchestrated last week.

I cant link to it here at work (no access) - If you cant find it, let me know)


P.S. - Of course you can also donate to NY-based rescues as we can use all the help we can get!

Anonymous said...

I would have attended but the notice was short and not very well publicized, at least from my stand point. I am on the Urgent List every night and didn't even know about the board meeting until the letter Harris spoke of was posted. I asked the thread when, where, what time but no response. I think that if we are better at getting the word out, those of us who do have to work will have enough time to give notice to our employers that we need the time off. I had a lot to say and will follow up with a letter.

In the meatime, I filed a complaint last week when a couple who wanted to adopt a dog on death row at the ACC in Manhattan couldn't get through on the phones to express their interest in the dog. For three days they called, non-stop, with no answer. They almost gave up but I went down in person for them to let the ACC know that they would be down in two days to pick up the dog. Luckily, they did not euthanize her but it wouldn't have surprised me if they did. I still don't understand why volunteers can't answer the phones that ring off the hook incessantly. It makes me wonder sometimes if the ACC really even wants these animals adopted. How can you not answer the phones when people who are out of state (6 hours in this case) who want to adopt a animal hours from being euthanized and who do not know the ins and outs of the ACC, need to connect with someone to make sure that they don't show up to adopt a dead dog or cat?

The ACC administration is a mess and doesn't even seem to want to fix the problems. How many dogs in the sick ward don't even get seen by potential adopters who are told to go upstairs to look at the animals available? What about the ones that are just hours from death but are closed off from the public because they are "sick?" It makes me sick, to be honest. My heart breaks every time I step foot in that place and anger that I feel towards the adminstration continues to mount. The ACC administration is a sham, to put it in the politest of terms. I applaud those in attendance but wish that I could have been there myself as I had quite a bit to say as I'm sure so many others who could not attend did too about the way that things are done. And that's just at the ACC in Manhattan which actually looks somewhat decent (if you can call it that) in comparison to the ACC in Brooklyn. That is of course, not saying too much considering they are both horrendous places.

If I were Julie Banks I would be embarrassed at the way that things are managed and organized (if you can even use those two words to describe what goes on there). I can't help but wonder if they have a business deal with a rendering plant that serves as an incentive to kill animals rather than save them.

Sorry for the rant but as you know, I didn't get a chance to blow off steam at the board meeting. I will do so in my letter to them which I hope they will read.

Thank you.

debbie s. said...

It's true - this meeting was simply not as well publicized as the one that so many of us showed up to and were banned from. I didn't know about it. So maybe we should go back and figure out what went right with that very popular meeting and use the same tactics to publicize the next meeting. Also, you're right to conclude that the reason euthanizations are down is because they are taking in fewer cats, but another reason really could be the increasing numbers of followers of facebook pages like Urgent Part 2 - I would say that has grown quite a bit since last year, and they do manage to save quite a few dogs every day. But I'm sure Banks would not have acknowledged something like that. IT is truly insanity that the facebook groups trying to save these animals and the shelter staff are at odds with each other rather than cooperating with each other. I blame Banks for that. thank you so much for posting your update and for your dedication to this cause.

Anonymous said...

Harris I think you do an incredible job and we know your work speaks volumes for the animals.
But please do not put URGENT PART 2 in the same category as yourself. We tried to adopt a dog from the ACC two weeks ago and we went on Facebook asking for help. It seems as I have been told that Urgent Part 2 controls who is allowed to adopt and who is not. I find that totally inappropriate and very unprofessional. As it turns out, we were able to adopt from another rescue out of state but what does it say to you when this group dictates who can and who cannot adopt? Who are they to decide who is and who is not qualified. I was told to read more and I would be horrified by the goings on. They were right. The ACC has more problems than they know when it comes to the likes of Urgent Part 2. It has become known as the little mafia of animal rescue. So as much as we all detest the ACC and the work Julie Banks does not do, one should take a long look at what and who Urgent Part does and is. If a rescue qualifies someone, why would they post not to adopt? More importantly, they are willing to let dogs die as opposed to letting a dog go to a qualifed home? That is not rescue. That is animal abuse.
This group has authorized a number of dogs go to places where no one knows what has happened to the dogs and several have died. And of course everyone knows about Charlie Brown and this poor dog went to NYBC who Urgent Part 2 thinks is a wonderful rescue? And they said we could not adopt? They should be ashamed of themselves and made to answer the whereabouts of all the dogs given to these unapproved rescues that they thought was so wonderful. NYC has more problems than just the shelters. The likes of Urgent Part 2 and their little group of egomaniacs that play God with the lives of innocent animals.

-J. said...

Urgent is not a rescue and they do not approve, disapprove, or "authorize" any rescues or rescuers, they simply spread the word. I know it can be very difficult for people from outside of NYC to figure out how things work here, but you need to put in some more study time!

Some animals on the nightly kill lists are restricted to ACC's "New Hope" partners - these ARE rescues and they do have the ability to pull which has been granted to them by ACC. Out-of-state rescues who wish to help in NYC would be well advised to cultivate a relationship with a New Hope partner to pull on their behalf in advance - many will not pull for other orgs they don't know simply because they've been burned too many times. People who are not regular NYC rescuers also tend to underestimate the degree of medical care these animals may require and all of them need very strict quarantine due to the diseases that run rampant at the shelters.

Charlie Brown said...

Thank you to those that attended this important meeting.

Anonymous said...

J, in response to your post? No Urgent is NOT a rescue but they dictate on Facebook along with several other rescue groups who can and who cannot or I should say who they will help and who they will not help. Explain to me how they helped Craig Fields and NYBC adopt so many dogs and now no one knows where those dogs are and some are in their own filth and worse some have died. The Charlie Brown story is enough to make anyone vomit with what happened to him at the hands of an APPROVED rescue in the eyes of Urgent and their little group. It doesnt matter. We adopted our dog out of state with no problem. But when a person who lives in the outskirts of NYC cannot adopt because the people of Urgent and their little group say so? That is a very sad day especially when they would rather see dogs die than go to a good home. Its amazing that they have that much pull. And incidentally, is Craig Fields on the approved list? Because if he is not? Then Urgent and that little group should be held accountable for their actions allowing and PULLING dogs from ACC for him. What is wrong there? Someone needs to be investigated in that whole situation and maybe there is. I dont know. I dont know that much about it except what we as our family tried to adopt and went we went on FB to ask for help since it was a dog on Urgent's page? Because we did not know anyone they said not to adopt to us when we were more than qualified. Just wrong. We were foster parents for pups who were going to be seeing eye dogs. So yes we are qualified. But they would not hear us. But thank you for your information. And by the way, I am aware of the animals in NYC shelters of their illness. 9 out of 10 dogs come out of there with kennel cough or worse. Just a very sad situation all together.

Stewie to the Rescue! said...

Hey Anon -

I'm confused - If you see an animal on Urgent's Wall, couldnt you just call the AC&C?

I am not familiar with Fields and know nothing about the NY Bully Crew - I just checked out their website - What's their story?

Not sure how Urgent has their hands dirty though...I mean, unless they are a New Hope Partner (Urgent isn't), how do they get their hands on AC&C dogs?


Anonymous said...

Anon, wow are you confused! Urgent Part 2 has nothing to do with who the NYCACC approves as a New Hope Partner. If you have a gripe with anyone I would think it would be the NYCACC- As for adopting a dog from the NYCACC since I have been watching Urgent Part 2 I have seen people fly in from Arizona to adopt a dog and then drive back home. It's really easy to blame someone else for your lack of action. It's easy to sit behind a computer screen and say "I want that dog" and then scream and complain when you don't get that dog because you didn't fill out applications with rescues, find a temporary foster and then find transport (or) drive to pick the dog up yourself.

Jay said...

Stella, aka Anon, you could always catch a plane to NYC and adopt directly. Those who really wanted a dog, but lived too far away to work with local groups have done it in the past. So, the ONLY thing stopping you is yourself.

Secondly, you live in OREGON. It's New Hope policy that their dogs are not sent so far away, but it's one of the rare NYCACC policies I happen to agree with. Our local rescues do not have either the financial resources to fly/drive dogs clear across the country nor do the have the physical resources to be able to monitor dogs THEY still are, ultimately, responsible for so far away or retrieve then again if something with the placement should go wrong-- it that happens more often than you'd like to know.

Many of local NYC rescues will adopt dogs from NYC up to Maine and down to northern VA. That's a fairly decent area and that's what they have the resources for. If YOU don't have the resources to get yourself to NYC to adopt in-person, WHY is it you're expecting others to have the resources to accommodate you?

Do you think you're the ONLY west coast person who's been told, "Sorry, but no we aren't able to do that?" Should rescues send dogs to Canada and Mexico on demand as well? How about Australia-- get requests from there fairly often too.

Now, for this dog, Charlie Brown. I fail to see what a BALTIMORE dog, "rescued" by a BALTIMORE rescue, dumped onto a NY rescue, and then dumped again onto another NY rescue has anything-- at all -- to do with Urgent Part 2, who ONLY posts NYC dogs. Regarding Craig Fields, Urgent doesn't dictate to other rescues which other rescues they are allowed to work with any more than they do potential adopters.

And, to be quite honest, given your malicious, deceptive, inciteful, trolling behavior I'd feel badly for any animal in your care.

nono said...

Anon, I guess you decided to come over here to stir things up. Sadly, I crossed your path yet again (I've "seen" you around) and usually after reading your posts...leave with just a headache, because I do not have the time or energy to educate you. BUT this time I decided to come back because I'm SO over the drama you try to stir up. I AM a New Hope approved rescue in excellent standing. Have been for 10 years. Long before FB, hell longer than most folks have been online. I am also a regular visitor to Urgent Part 2's page. When you are dealing with 25K+ people on a FB page (like Urgent is), there will always be some folks that are whackado's, some ready to con someone or a bunch of people or some simply just looking to stir up trouble. But mixed in with those unfortunates, are some truly great people. People who truly care about the welfare of those animals sitting in the NYC shelter systems, by wanting to foster, adopt, pledge, share empathy or simply crosspost dogs. Urgent gets exposure for the dogs at the shelters, plain and simple. They are not a rescue, they are not a New Hope Partner, they are in no way affiliated with the NYC ACC. They cannot pull a dog, or block ANYONE from adopting a dog from the ACC. They do not have the power YOU suggest they have. If no rescue would work with you, it's probably because you demonstrated on the threads you were commenting on that you were pompous, a trouble maker, or just a miserable soul in general. Being on the threads, and I mostly lurk-like many of the other New Hope partners, why would I want to consider you as a potential adopter for one of my dogs...when I have enough stress in my life as a result of my rescue work? You've got trouble written all over you, due to your attitude. As soon as you start ranting, it's obvious that you are uneducated in the situations you are spouting off about...placing blame where YOU think it should fall, out of some misguided piece of information...or out of bruised pride. If you want to help...and some of your posting seems to lean in that direction, then please do so constructively. The vengence tactic is getting old, and frankly it demonstrates a lack of credibility.
Sorry for hijacking your comments Harris, my apologies.

-J. said...

Thank goodness there are some people here who actually know how to work within the system! Urgent is only a conduit for information. There is no power there - pull power or anything else, Urgent is not a NH partner. Their "approval" means nothing to ACC and ACC doesn't condone them, work with them, or even like them. If you don't get along with them, just... y'know, cut out the middleman and go to ACC. Urgent has zero say in adoptions from ACC. None. Only ACC speaks for ACC.

When I want to adopt a dog, I don't start email Petfinder and asking for their help or their approval - they're a listing service. I take the information they give to me and contact the actual rescue. Urgent and ACC have a similar relationship, only without the cooperation part.

Anonymous said...

I am sure that the NYC ACC would be very interested in what happened to Charlie Brown. Dogs "rescued" by so called NH approved rescues have ended up in the hands of others who are not "approved" rescues. Dogs have allegedly disappeared and died under the care of this person and his New York pitbull rescue. In other words, "approved" rescues let anyone adopt their dogs without knowing where they end up.

Jay said...

I doubt NYCACC would be very interested in the goings on of Maryland shelters, rescues, and dogs. They have enough of their own work to ignore.

But, again, what exactly does ANY of this have to do with Urgent Part 2?

I mean other than the fact you're just in a snit that no NYC rescues would pay to send a dog to you in OREGON... a place so far away they have no resources to monitor the placement? Or the ability to get the dog back should something go wrong.

If you want a NYC dog so badly, I would think you would hop onto an airplane and come get one. Take the bull by the horns and don't demand someone not only do the work for you, but pay for it to boot. Talk about an entitlement attitude...

Regardless, absolutely NONE of this has a thing to do with Urgent Part 2. And that you would come here and libel that Organizations hard work and not-so-subtly try to insinuate that they are connected to some "alleged" misdeed and conspiracy is pathetic grandstanding.

Oh, and you're also "off-topic."

Anonymous said...

Harris, I wanted to say that your rant was great.

-- A Different Anonymous