You may have noticed “the mystery redhead” who appeared in photo after photo holding ACC dogs, comforting them when they needed it most. Either by walking a dog, writing a bio, cleaning a cage or assisting an adopter. The volunteer, named Jeff Latzer, was in the Manhattan shelter, for 25-30 hours per week for over the past 2.5 years and, additionally, spent countless hours writing about, and advocating for, dogs from his home. Jeff’s proud specialty was helping the most scared– the dogs that other volunteers and staff thought would never open up. Jeff got through to them. By opening these petrified dogs up to human affection, Jeff saved countless lives by showing this other side of the dogs to rescuers and adopters. And yet today, for no reason at all, aside from the sheer vindictiveness that has become a standard of Julie Bank’s reign, the ACC terminated Jeff Latzer as an unpaid volunteer.
If you adopted a dog from the Manhattan ACC in the past two years, there’s a very good chance that Jeff met your dog, was photographed loving them, and helped significantly improve their life during their stay. Jeff knew almost all the dogs by name and could rattle off his thoughts and impressions for each one on the spot. He was trusted by the rescue community and was regularly consulted by them before they’d pull dogs. Rescues openly question the subject nature of the shelter’s Safer behavior test; and so, they relied on volunteers like Jeff to determine an animal’s true disposition. If they wanted a dog tested with other dogs, Jeff knew that this must be done in an open area, included in a walk, and with two knowledgeable handlers. By contrast, the shelter simply throws two large animals in a closet-sized room to see who growls first.
As a member of the Compassion Program, Jeff was part of a core group of nine people who took it upon themselves to care for each and every dog on every night’s euthanasia list at the Manhattan ACC. These devoted people swallow their sadness and open their hearts to each dog on death row, providing them each a last evening of affection, last walks, last meals, and a comfortably clean bed from extra linens. No matter how a dog acted . . . no matter how many signs were posted on its cage to beware, no matter how “obvious” most ACC people thought it was that a dog should die for “temperament” issues, Jeff was there for that dog. Forgotten dogs without hope were Jeff’s specialty.
Before doing Compassion Program work, Jeff would scramble with a handful of other volunteers to make sure that each and every dog on the night’s list had full representation to advocate for their lives–including gorgeous pictures and heartfelt bios submitted before the 5pm Euth List was generated. Now, with both Jeff and Emily (Tanen) now terminated, adequate representation for these innocent animals becomes exponentially harder to achieve. Regardless of the lies Julie Bank tells of having “537 new volunteers,” there are actually only around 15 regular dog volunteers in Manhattan. Within those fifteen, Jeff was one of three key volunteers with the highest output of dog bios.
Despite ACC’s ludicrous claim that humans don’t belong in shelter dog pictures, the rest of the animal community knows the truth. And this truth can be found throughout the Urgent photo albums. For the majority of dog photos, Jeff handled the dog for two photographers – one of whom, of course, was recently fired. Hundreds of adopters and rescuers can tell you the truth themselves – that when they saw Jeff snuggling with dogs in shelter pictures (particularly dogs who “failed” their behavior test ) – it was those pictures which saved lives.
For the dogs that had no one, Jeff had a gentle and trusting way that put even the most frightened dog at ease. Even if it took him sitting next to a cage, talking soothingly to that petrified dog for an hour, eventually, it was Jeff that would have that same dog rolling over for belly rubs. Through his commitment, Jeff was determined to give the dogs a chance at life. Dogs who had so few other advocates at ACC.
Not only was Julie Bank shortsighted enough to fire their most dedicated New Hope employee, leaving the program in ineffectual ruins, but Julie has now fired one of the volunteers who did the most for the dogs as well. Despite what is claimed to be a “highly successful” volunteer program, none other than the Mayor’s Alliance has now been sending paid employees to walk dogs at the shelter.
If you thought ACC animals’ chances of survival were hurt after Emily Tanen was fired, it’s hard to truly illustrate the horrific effect Jeff’s firing will have on the shelter’s dogs. Both were victims of Julie Bank’s vindictive shortsightedness. The bottom line is that Julie is trying to clean house of people who spoke up against her policies. The easiest way to silence opposing views is to have underlings fire them: in Emily’s case, cravenly inept Placement Supervisor Ellen Curtis, and in Jeff Latzer’s case, the notorious Volunteer Coordinator, Elisabeth Manwiller.
All of us in the rescue community know what it is like to regularly feel powerless against ACC and its inhumane policies. Well, this is our chance to not let them get away with an indefensible, illogical assault on animal welfare. We must all write to Executive Director Julie Bank and the shelter’s Board, demanding the immediate reinstatement of the devoted Manhattan shelter volunteer Jeff Latzer. After two and a half years of giving all of himself, and his free time, to our animals in need, it is time we emphatically say, “NO!,” and insist Jeff be given his position back. Jeff gave his time and heart to ensuring rescues knew the real dog hiding inside the terrified one. We simply cannot let him go.
SHOW YOUR SUPPORT BY JOINING HIS FAN PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Reinstate-Jeff-Latzer/215021205202601?sk=wall