Monday, April 30, 2012

Meet The Rescuers!

Welcome to our brand spankin' new series -  Meet The Rescuers! 

I'm gonna have interviews with people involved with the various animal rescues located in NYC, and beyond! Why? I think it's a good way to find out what makes these people tick, and I think it'll be fun. How long will I be doing this? As long as I'm in the mood! Can your rescue be part of it? Damn, you ask a lot of questions! But sure, just write me at Thanks!

Our first Q & A is with Jennifer Brooks, who runs Second Chance Rescue out of Queens, NY...

How many years have you been rescuing animals and why did you start?

I have been rescuing animals since I am 18. It started with kittens on the streets. I have always had a passion for animals. When i was 5 years old, while most kids are playing house, I used to play "animal shelter"- this is why I think I was destined to be a rescuer. I started pulling from ACC after adopting my 2nd personal dog, in 2006. I adopted her from a small rescue, and it was explained that she came from a place called "NYCACC"- I had never heard of such a place. I went on a visit to NYCACC with the rescuer who I adopted her from. I will never forget that day- it changed my life. The rescuer explained to me as she pointed to cages, that all these animals will be killed tomorrow, I cried, and vowed to do something more to help the animals in ACC.

How many years has Second Chance Rescue been around?

Second Chance Rescue was established in 2009. Before I started my own rescue, I worked closely under some of the other rescues who have been around a long time. this is how I learned what i know now, they taught me the ropes. Once I felt confident, I said I want my own thing now, its time, and SCR was born.

What do you do when you're not rescuing animals?

When I am not rescuing, I am working as a full time teacher at a JHS in Queens teaching 7-8th grade US History. I also take care of my own personal 5 pit-bulls, who are my babies. Then I eat, sleep, catch a tv show here and there, hang out with my fiance, who has a ton of patience for putting up with my insane life.

Whats your favorite TV show?

Real House Wives or anything on Bravo.

Real Housewives? Really?

Lol.  Yes, I love that show. Also I like Pit Bulls and Paroles too..

Okay, you redeemed yourself with Pit Bulls and Parolees (slightly). How would you spend all the free time you'd have if you never got into rescue?

I have no idea what I would do with so much time.

How many hours a week do you think you devote to rescue?

Hmmm... this is hard to say- lets see I would say 5 hours a day during week (5x5)=25, and one full day on weekend, plus a few hours on the other weekend day ( between computer, transporting animals, doing adoption events, going to the vet, doing adoptions, and home visits, talking dogs on the phone)  I would estimate 35-40 hours, wow that is a second full time job!!

How do you decide which dogs to pull out of the shelter? Do you look at the euth list?

Yes, sometimes euth list, sometimes it is pleas that New Hope sends to me, sometimes it is what volunteers say about a dog, or just a picture that gets to me. 

How many fosters and volunteers work with you at Second Chance?

Hmmm, we have about 6-7 fosters  and about 5 solid volunteers. We can always use more help and volunteers, and we can really use some more foster homes.

How many dogs is your org currently responsible for?

Right now we have 22 dogs, both in foster and boarding. We really need to get our numbers down so we can help more dogs, we are very full at the moment.

How many dogs do you personally have? Do you also have fosters?
I have 5 personal dogs. All of them are MINE. Two of them were failed fosters. Unfortunately due to the number of Pit bulls we have in the house (3 girls, 2 boys) I can't foster anymore. If I could do it over again, I would not have kept so many dogs, so I always had room for 1 or 2 fosters- advice to newbies, dont keep your foster dogs!! My first dog I rescued from North Shore when I was 23, his name is Tyson ( he is half a pit) My other 4 dogs are all former Brooklyn ACC dogs ( Jake, Bubbles, Lexus, and Lacy-Mae) all pitties.

How does your fiancĂ© feel about all of this? 

 Humm, well, it is a constant struggle. He puts up with it. He loves our dogs, but he just doesn't understand the amount of time that I need to dedicate to rescue. He is supportive at times, and other times, not so much. It takes a lot of time away from our relationship. However, he has learned to deal with it.
What if he gave you an ultimatum... It's me or the dogs?

You mean him or our dogs? or rescue?
Either way, dogs win.

Tell us something about you that most people don't know...

I am a great skier and figure skater.

Awesome! Thanks for your time!

You can reach Second Chance Rescue by emailing them at

You can "friend" Second Chance Rescue on Facebook here.

You can also support Second Chance Rescue at our joint comedy fundraiser at Gotham Comedy Club on May 2nd - DETAILS HERE...

Harris Bloom

Friday, April 27, 2012

Problems With the Pledging System

A few days ago, I discussed how Facebook helps save animals' stuck at the NYC Animal Care and Control (NYC ACC). One of the methods was "pledging," (i.e. promising to pay any rescue that takes an animal out of there, theoretically, to help with vetting, training, shelter, and food until they can find a permanent home). It has become decent source of donations for the various rescues that pull dogs out of the NYC ACC. But, as I have become more involved with the process by pledging on behalf of Stewie to the Rescue, I have become aware of some problems...

1 - Not everyone lives up to their pledge

From what I've heard, about 70 to 80% of the pledges do get collected, though sometimes it takes several emails, reminding people to keep their word. I understand that reading about these animals, one wants to do anything they can do to help, but try not to get carried away, making a pledge when you know you aren't going to live up to it. All you are doing is making rescue groups more unsure about whether the listed pledges are "good," which will make them less likely to pull questionable cases (like ones with medical needs) in the future.

2 - Rescues take pledges but still force adopters to pay for medical expenses, etc...

I recently received an email from someone who requested a rescue pull a dog for her, a dog that had several hundred in pledges. The adopter ended up with several hundred in medical expenses for the dog (She ended up having to put the dog to sleep.) which the rescue did not offer to help with.

Though rescues may disagree (write me in the comments if you do), but when people pledge for an animal, they want that money to first, pay for any and all expenses that make that animal suitable to live in their forever home. Any extra money can go into that rescue's general fund. Rescues have an obligation to pay for any and all medical expenses associated with that animal regarding preexisting conditions.

This may sound harsh, but to me, doing otherwise amounts to stealing.

3 - Rescues take pledges and then ship the animal to another rescue

This recently happened to me (i.e. Stewie) - We pledged money for a dog at the NYC ACC and got an email from a woman who runs an out-of-state rescue, thanking me for helping with the dog. I was shocked to not only hear that the dog was being shipped to another rescue (out-of-state, no less!), but, upon asking, they were not being forwarded our pledge money**

Again, when we pledge, it is for that specific animal. Why should the rescue that pulls the dog keep all the pledges if all they are doing is shipping the animal to another rescue?

** After putting up a stick, they sent over my pledge money (I am SURE they sent the rest too...sarcasm)

4 - Here's another possible issue that I hope isn't a problem but I can see it being a problem if pledge money continues to increase thanks to Urgent's growing popularity...

I am going to blog about this specific case shortly, but I recently, I had reason to pledge $700 for a dog - for those of you not familiar with the process, that's a lot coming from one person (I had people behind me), especially for a dog with no medical or social issues.

I do not know if the group that pulled him did so due to the decent amount of money awaiting them for doing so, but, they did so without having a foster first. Most rescues (correct me if I'm wrong) won't pull an animal unless they know where he or she is going first. There is a very good reason for that.

Dogs that have nowhere to go end up being boarded at a kennel. It is much harder to find a foster for a dog that is already in a kennel as people consider that dog to already be "saved" so it doesn't tug at people's heartstrings as much. I have been told this by several rescue's, one of which has dogs in a kennel for over two years.

I'm not going to get into whether a life in boarding is a life worth living, but we can agree it's not a great life, and many dogs deteriorate in kennels, making making tougher to adopt out, increasing their chances of remaining in a kennel for the rest of their lives.

I don't really have an answer for this, as the pledge money may prove too great for rescues to ignore. My plea would be for people to share and try to find homes for animals that are being boarded with the same ferocity as those that are on the "To Be Destroyed" lists. One can argue, their situation is just as dire.

Harris Bloom

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Helping to Save Animals Through Pledges

I've already written a few times about how Stewie to the Rescue helps low income individuals pay for their animals' medical care. You can read it again (or for the first time for our newer fans) here.

But there's another way that we are making a difference, and that is by pledging for animals that are at the NYC Animal Care and Control (NYC ACC).

The way it works is, every day, the NYC ACC puts out a list of animals that are going to be euthanized the next day, along with their pictures and behavior and medical evaluations. Though it is meant to be an internal list, intended only for a few eyes, employees sneak it to “Kay Smith” (in parenthesis as that is not her real name), whose team posts it on Facebook under her “Urgent Part 2 - Urgent Death Row Dogs” and “Pets on Death Row” pages that, as of April 2012, had over 58,000 fans.

(btw - Why the list is supposed to be internal only, I have no idea...god forbid the NYC ACC tell people what we already know, that they are a kill shelter. Anyway...)

The fans post comments about them under Urgent's postings for each animal. These comments fall into one of four categories.

1 - They simply write "s" or "shared" meaning they have posted the animal's info on their Facebook page.

2 - They curse whomever put them in the shelter. Here are a few recent examples...

"Just disgusting....I want to scream!!!!!! Some humans SUCK BIGTIME :'("

"HOW THE HELL DOES SOMONE DO THIS???11, had her all her life and then u dump her her? POS, POS!"


3 - They plead for SOMEONE to do SOMETHING!!!!! Here are a few recent examples...

"she looks so scared please save Star!"


"OMG!!!! first she is abused and neglected now they want to kill her please step up and show her what it
feels like to be wanted and loved...."

"o cute my goodness♥ she's got her whole life ahead of her, someone please rescue this sweet puppy♥"

4 - They pledge money to any rescue that pulls the animal.

That's where Stewie to the Rescue (and others) helps. People pledge $10, $20 and more, offered to any rescue that "pulls" (gets) the animal from the shelter. When word gets out that a particular rescue pulled the animal, someone from the rescue usually reminds people of their promise to donate. 

Stewie usually pledges between $100 and $250, though we recently pledged $700 for one dog (story behind it will be another blog post).

Due to the economy and how cash strapped the rescues are (especially those that rescue pit bulls and adult cats) are, these pledges have become an important inducement for rescues to save certain animals. 

Stewie to the Rescue is happy to help!

Tomorrow, I will blog about the problems with The Pledge System...

Harris Bloom

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Julie Bank's Nose Just Grew Another Inch (Or Three)...

Did you guys see this article?

First of all, let me say that it's great that Hill's Pet Nutrition is donating so much food to the New York City Animal Care and Control (NYC ACC). We are intimately aware with how the NYC ACC struggles to feed its animals (still unbelievable to me).

However, let's parse through Julie Bank's comments in this article...

Let's start with the most absurd. Speaking about the NYC ACC's relationship to the other rescues/shelters and the Mayor's Alliance...

“We are the triage center,” says Julie Bank, executive director of AC&C. “We find appropriate homes for every animal—whether that is through an adopter or a temporary shelter or rescue.” 


Let's forget about the fact that they actually hinder the rescues more than help due to their ineptness, how can she possibly lie and include the word "every" in there? She makes it sound like she's proud of running a no-kill shelter. The only alternative is if she believes that dying at the end of a needle to be an "appropriate home."

Or maybe the "dash" in the sentence was actually replacing words that the reporter chose to delete (her version of Seinfeld's, "yadda yadda yadda"). Let me fix it, to include words that would make the sentence truthful...

"We find appropriate homes for every animal that we don't kill, whether that is through an adopter or a temporary shelter or rescue."

There. Better.

She later added this nugget...

"Every animal that comes in our doors receives medical attention."

Excuse me??

She really likes to use the word "every" doesn't she, whether it's true or not. And, once again, it is not.

We know damn well there are probably dozens (hundreds?) that don't get publicized but here are a few animals that may beg to differ with Julie's statement, like, this one, this one, this one, this dog, who chewed off his own tail due to medical neglect, and Gloria, the poor cat who had a broken leg for three weeks without anyone realizing it. 

In fact, it's so false that a recent audit concluded that the NYC ACC is short on vets and that animals are begin neglected.

Thankfully, those were the only statements that Julie made about the NYC ACC. I'd hate to have to correct EVERY statement she makes.

Harris Bloom

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Looking Beneath A "Feel Good" Story

Far be it from me to question the recent "feel good" pit bull story about Kilo, the dog who took a bullet to the skull to protect his owner (see story HERE), but I'm gonna do it anyway...

First of all, though I hate to depend on the comments to any story, someone mentioned that the owner, Justin Becker, has done "two bids." That's street slang for jail terms - I don't care enough to research whether it's true, but I don't see any reason to lie about something like that...

I'm also skeptical due to one of his jobs -

"...and is associated with a local business that breeds and sells pit bulls..."

A Staten Island pit bull breeder? Awesome... just what pits need...

And finally, who the hell names a dog "Kilo?"

What do I think happened? This dude still is involved in drugs? The "invasion" was drug related, and he trained his pit to attack on command. Just a hunch, but, unfortunately, an educated one.

Harris Bloom