We are asking everyone in the Urgent community to take 5 minutes TODAY and send a letter to show your support for the dogs and cats at the ACC. We need to you to copy the text below, print it, sign it and then email or fax it to EACH BOARD MEMBER (contact info can be found here: http://www.urgentdeathrowdogs.org/how-you-can-help/how-togroup1/act.html and at the end of the note below)
January 30, 2012
Thomas Farley, M.D
NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
125 Worth Street, 3rd floor
New York, NY 10013
Dear Dr. Farley:
I was pleased to learn that AC&C Executive Director Julie Bank hosted selected members of the Board at the Manhattan shelter on the morning of January 27th. When evaluating the efficacy of policies, there is no substitute for face time. I commend those of you who took the time to visit.
Unfortunately, it seems like your visit was well anticipated.
Do members of the board know that AC&C employees put in overtime hours to prepare for your visit? They were told to make the place as clean as possible, and were provided with bottles of commercial cleaning fluid, not normally used, to wash down the walls, polish the elevators, and shine the cages. The Manhattan shelter also concealed the true state of the population by shipping animals to Brooklyn and placing 16 Manhattan dogs on the list for euthanasia, all to trim the population down to a level that seemed more manageable for staff. Visitors even observed a toy in the cage of every dog that day, which is quite a noteworthy event when you consider that most other days the dogs are lucky to have fresh water.
Whatever you saw on Friday was not an inspection. It was not a reflection of the normal state of the shelter under Julie Bank’s leadership. It was a well rehearsed dog and pony show, requiring additional labor and a shift of priorities away from direct care. Arrive at one of the city’s ‘care centers’ unannounced, and you will see cats with overturned water and filthy litter, dogs in urine soaked training crates on the floor, animals so overexcited from lack of exercise that they intimidate adopters, less than 6 active volunteers even on the best of days, and 3-4 employees on staff for over 300 animals at a time, while the woman you hired to lead sits in an office sanctioning a volunteer coordinator whose horrific performance was recently rewarded with a paid assistant, a Director of Development who has raised only a small fraction of his salary for many years now, and more middle managers and marginally useful administrative staff than ever before. She has alienated rescuers, demoralized volunteers, let partnerships dissolve (Petsmart), decimated animal enrichment programs, and has slashed staff involved in direct care.
At the board meeting, she will tell you all about the exciting programs she has spearheaded and brag about a progress that not only falls woefully short of expectations, but was achieved by rescuers in spite of her, not because of it. I do not expect you to take the word of activists, especially considering the contentious history from both sides. But I do ask those of you who care to investigate these claims and push Ms. Bank a little further than you are used to in the name of Due Diligence. Get concrete numbers for the volunteer program, ask for access to the VICnet records that prove how anemic it really is. Submit surveys to the rescue partners you rely on, and ask them whether they are satisifed with the responsiveness of staff. Ask for the breakdown of animals taken by rescuers as opposed to adopted by the public—the database has this capacity. Visit one day after work, at 7pm, and walk into the adoption ward to wait for help. Grab the dog walking logs before they have had the chance to be falsified. Take out an animal with a “behavior problem” and realize how easy it is to abuse a subjective classification system. Ask to test the panic buttons in the shelters. Ask about the 4 month old puppy whose leg was broken under mysterious circumstances. Ask about the cat who sat in a cage at AC&C for weeks with an untreated broken leg.
At this point, reformers don’t want you to take our word that Julie Bank’s failed and strictly cosmetic rebranding of AC&C has led to more dissent, more hostile feelings, and more unhygienic, inhumane conditions in the buildings than ever before. We want you to doubt us. We want you to think we’re making it all up. Perhaps then you will be willing to do the real work of finding your own answers—without giving 24 hours of lead time.
The power to do the right thing for NYC’s animals is yours. Today, as this letter makes its way to your inboxes, there are family pets in your shelters who are forsaken, terrified, and whose comfort and survival are completely at the mercy of AC&C’s priorities. Your Executive Director has put these animals at the bottom of her list, time and time again, to serve her ambition. Please believe that there is a better choice out there.
Board members to send this letter to:
Thomas Farley, M.D.
Commissioner – DOH
Tel: (212) 788-5261, Fax: (212) 964-0472
Commissioner, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
The Arsenal, Central Park, 830 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10021
Tel: 800 201-Park; Dial 311 for all Parks & Recreation Information
JAY KUHLMAN, DVM
Gramercy Animal Hospital
37 East 19th Street
New York, NY 10003
Tel. 212-477-4080; fax (212) 254-7497
John M.B. O’Connor
VP of marketing at Penguin Group publishing in Manhattan