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% women...my 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.