Thursday, May 10, 2012

Article on Our Founder/President!!


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Queens Native turns Personal Tragedy into Campaign for Animal Welfare
By Michael Mullins
Published May 10, 2012
In July of 2010, Queens native Harris Bloom, 44, launched Stewie to the Rescue, a nonprofit dedicated to helping local animals in need while honoring the memory of his beloved dog Stewie, who was tragically killed by a car in November of 2008.

According to Bloom, two of the nonprofit’s primary goals are to make sure that no pet is ever relinquished to a NYC kill shelter due to the expense of their medical care, and that no rescue group is ever prevented from saving an animal’s life because of a lack of funds when a foster family or adoptive family is available.

ClrBx2Stewie to the Rescue's logo.
Bloom’s commitment to animal welfare is best illustrated in his willingness to not only fundraise for his own charity, but other charities as well, particularly area rescue groups. In the past two years, Bloom, an accountant by day who is also a writer and stand-up comic, has held approximately 50 comedy benefits for local animal welfare organizations, convincing fellow comedians to join him on stage and donate their time and talent to help animals in need.

Harris Bloom the Advocate

For many in NYC’s animal community, Bloom is best known, however, for his witty, no-nonsense approach when addressing Animal Care and Control’s Board of Directors at its annual meeting.

In the world of animal welfare and animal rights, few would argue that women are the dominant force behind most initiatives and most progress. The gender gap is perhaps nowhere more apparent in NYC than at ACC’s Board of Director (BOD) meetings, where every year, animal loving residents, overwhelmingly women, gather to have their questions unanswered and concerns seemingly ignored by an all male board which oversees the Northeast’s largest animal shelter system.

Despite this, Bloom, meeting after meeting, tends to arguably draw the loudest applause and most supportive cheers from the predominantly female public when speaking to the BOD. Video excerpts from Bloom’s address have gone viral on You Tube, courtesy of The Shelter Reform Action Committee. (Click here for video clip).

In an interview with The Companion, Bloom explained his opposition to ACC and why he’s fighting for reform.

“The main problem [with ACC] is the structure. [It] is "managed" by the Department of Health (DOH). Under this system, the budget will never be sufficient as there's no way that Bloomberg, or any non-animal friendly mayor, will allocate any more than the bare minimum that he can get away with toward animals instead of humans. Because of this conflict of interest, the BOD will only appoint executive directors who will not "rock the boat" as they don't want the mayor (or themselves) embarrassed by how this city treats its homeless animals.”

Bloom continued, “Other problems include the lack of shelters in Queens and The Bronx, two boroughs who both have populations higher than all but about twenty cities in the U.S., and the need for marketing – most New Yorkers don't even know that the ACC exists, or that you can foster an animal to make sure it's a good match…

“NYC should end its ownership of the ACC. They should give whatever budget they do now to an outside party to run it, with inflationary increases. I guarantee they can find someone willing to take on this task, as I would bet an outside non-profit would also do a much better job at fundraising. They certainly couldn't do a worse job when it comes to alienating the rescue community... An ideal system would be somewhat akin to the success we've seen with the Central Park Conservancy and their upkeep, maintenance, and beautifying of one of the city's most famous landmarks.”

Contracted out by the DOH to manage NYC’s animal control services, ACC is technically an independent nonprofit; however, in the eyes of many in NYC’s animal welfare community, the two organizations are viewed as one, and for good reason.

ACC’s entire seven-member BOD is appointed by the city and headed-up by DOH Commissioner Thomas Farley. Also, ACC receives the lion’s share of its funding directly from the DOH. In 2011, ACC’s total operating budget was approximately $9.2 million, of which $7.1 million, or 77 percent, was provided by the DOH. As a result of ACC’s symbiotic relationship with the DOH, few in NYC’s animal community can determine where one organization begins and the other ends.

The Origins of Stewie to the Rescue

On November 26, 2008, while playing a game of catch in Riverside Park during the park’s off-leash hours, something apparently “spooked” Stewie, causing the pup to run away from Bloom and out of the park. Bloom raced after his best friend, but was unable to catch him. Stewie was just over four-years-old at the time of his death.

The following June, Bloom, via a Craigslist ad, fostered and eventually adopted a Pit Bull named Kilo, a former ACC shelter dog who had been pulled by DakodaLove Rescue. Following a visit to ACC’s Manhattan Shelter, Bloom decided to take an active role in helping NYC animals in need. Initially, Bloom raised funds for DakodaLovethrough his comedy acts, which led to his joining the rescue group’s board and eventually helping it become a corporation. In time, however, Bloom wanted to go in a different direction and following his wife Josie’s suggestion, began his own nonprofit. The rest is history.

Since adopting Kilo and launching Stewie to the Rescue, the Bloom family has grown to include a baby girl named Zadie, the couple’s first child, and a Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel –Poodle) named River. Bloom found River in September of 2010 abandoned in a carrier on 101st Street and Riverside Drive, just two blocks from where Stewie was hit by the car.

To learn more about Stewie to the Rescue and purchase tickets for Bloom’s upcoming animal welfare comedy benefits visit Upcoming comedy benefits include a May 21 show at Gotham Comedy Club in lower Manhattan to benefitStewie to the Rescue and The Toby Project, as well as June 6 show, also at Gotham, and
a June 9th show the Elks Lodge in Boonton, New Jersey.BlkBx

1 comment:

LibraryGirl62 said...

So good to see you and know you are still doing good works :)