Every day, we hear horror stories regarding the incompetence and lack of care at the NYC AC&C. In each instance, one is always left thinking that things “can’t get any worse.” And then you hear the next story, and it has. When the new Medical Director was hired, many had hoped shelter conditions and the quality of care animals received would improve. Sadly, we can assure you, they have not.
A shelter’s medical staff should be comprised of people who are trained to notice and treat medical issues accordingly. Granted, dogs are not always easy patients and they can’t speak to tell you when something’s wrong. If the medical department lacks sufficient staffing to be able to notice problems in a reliable and timely manner themselves, then they should be listening when other staff members advise them about a potential problem.
What they absolutely should never do, is ignore it. They should not brush off other staff member’s concerns about an animal. Medical staff is supposed to CARE about the animals they are tasked with providing care for. If a dog is vomiting, if a dog is not eating or drinking, if a dog has not gone to the bathroom in days… THESE are things trained medical personnel would notice. These are also things that most conscious humans with an IQ over 60 would notice.
If anyone would have taken an interest in Starsky, he might still be alive today. But he isn’t.
Starsky’s issues went “un-noticed” and then ignored by medical staff.
Starsky arrived at the shelter on May 9th. He was an adorable 3 year old boy, weighing in at 61 lbs. He scored an average rating on his behavior test and was flying under the radar until he coughed. THAT got the medical staffs‘ attention. Well, enough for them to prescribe Doxy and note his chart that he was coming down with kennel cough. He was placed on the kill list for kennel cough on the 14th, and S.N.A.R.R. (a rescue group) quickly pulled him.
Though S.N.A.R.R. wanted to pick him up on May 15th, Starsky was not released by medical until the 16th. The last medical note on his paperwork was only about the kennel cough. It also noted that he was heartworm negative. That was it.
He was picked up that morning, but by 3pm Starsky was having emergency surgery. That night, he was dead. What happened? Did he die from complications brought on by kennel cough?
Kennel cough was the least of Starsky’s issues. Starsky died from an intestinal obstruction. It turns out that Starsky ingested an entire studded leather dog collar, and although the leather was mostly digested, the threads were not and they wrapped around his intestines.
Though the surgery was a success, Starsky’s heart (and his now compromised respiratory system due to the kennel cough) could not take it, and he crashed. Starsky had been at the shelter and suffering from an intestinal blockage for at least an entire week. Was he really that “tough” that he showed no signs of this issue or did the medical staff turn a blind eye to a dog in distress?
We spoke to the rescue and others at the shelter. Several times throughout his week-long stay, the medical staff had been alerted to issues with Starsky. They were told he was not eating. They were told he was vomiting “something dark.” They were told he had not gone to the bathroom. Medical staff not only ignored those reports, they never even bothered to note them in his computer record. Not even once. Day after day, Starsky suffered and not one person in the medical department did anything to help.
When Starsky entered the NYC AC&C he weighed 61 pounds. When Starsky died, he weighed 52 pounds. In 7 days he lost 9 pounds… and no one with the ability to help him cared enough to do so. If that is not neglect, then what is? Is this the “care” NYC should be providing for it’s animals? Didn’t Starsky deserve more? More care? More concern? More competency? More compassion?
When will much-needed change come to the NYC AC&C? When will they finally hire competent and caring staff that will notice when animals are in distress instead of merely looking just for animals that coughed?
When will rescues finally be able to stop going bankrupt fighting to save lives because of negligence at the hands of the NYC AC&C? We don’t have that answer, but maybe those sitting at Park Place could answer those questions for us.
RIP Starsky. You were failed.