Dear Julie Bank,
It’s so nice to finally get to speak to you directly! Thank you for going on Channel 11 (PIX) and NBC in New York City to talk about our website where we try to save dogs before you kill them. So Julie, did you actually think in advance that the best way to criticize the Urgent and Pets on Death Row websites was to scare people away from adopting animals?
First, we’ll discuss your glamorous showing on WPIX. Allow us to to paraphrase your first televised interview: “We have dangerous dogs here, and if you go online to try to save any, you might save a dangerous one by mistake.”
Aside from being the polar opposite of good PR for the shelter and encouragement to adopt (which is, let’s be honest, your only true purpose as Executive Director), what you said here is a complete fantasy. We will break it down for you, because it’s clear that you’re not involved in the day to day functioning of the shelter. If you were involved, you would know why what you said is so hopelessly ignorant. You see Julie, once a dog either bites a human or dog, or is bitten by another dog, they become Department of Health cases, meaning they can’t be adopted by the general public. In fact, over 90% of DOH cases are killed the day after their hold is up without being seen on the public euth list. So it is physically impossible for a person to do what you suggested, Julie, and come to the shelter to adopt a dangerous dog. But thanks for putting that in people’s minds — we’re sure it will help ACC’s adoption numbers.
Now on to your second act tonight: the 11 o’clock news on NBC. This time, your central argument in why Facebook shouldn’t be used to save lives is that it would produce too many phone calls for you. You even ventured off the deep end by bitterly saying “We are spending hours of our time telling people, ‘Placed placed placed placed placed'” (5x). Quite the comedian tonight, aren’t you Julie? Let’s explain why that is so funny. A Facebook group gets people interested in adopting animals from your kill shelter, and you view that as a nuisance. Hysterical. As an ACC employee behind the front desk said (on Facebook!) “All I know from answering those phones all morning is Emily’s pictures made a huge impact on the people who saw them and really saved lives.”
Furthermore, as anyone who has tried can tell you, calling the shelter and speaking to a person is a herculean task that few can actually accomplish. There is no public number posted anywhere, and if you’re lucky enough to find this secret number (on Urgent), you must devote hours to listening to it ring before someone might answer. There is no staff devoted to this task anymore since you closed your Call Center, so this falls on people already overworked and understaffed behind the main Intake desk. Then you said “If you work within our system, then you’d know they were placed.” Well Julie, in addition to being snide and unprofessionally dismissive, that’s not true either. Approved rescue groups have no way of knowing the status of any animal in your shelter, and even though they’ve asked you for ways to learn this information, you refuse to provide it. This forces rescuers to resort to that same thing that bothers you so much: phone calls to save lives.
Up until recently, you had frozen the entire New Hope rescue program of the shelter from accepting new groups. You let it stay frozen for over a year. And since you’ve re-opened the application process, Ellen Curtis has succeeded in approving a grand total of 3 new rescue groups since becoming Placement Supervisor. Many more groups were banned for minor infractions during this year-long dead zone you created. So for you to flippantly say that “all legitimate” rescue groups are eligible to save animals, we’d suggest you speak to the dozens of hardworking groups waiting for over a year for the privalege of saving animals from your freezer.
Now Julie, we’ll focus on a quote which is downright bone-chilling for anyone who has seen how you operate the ACC. You said, “We are committed to whatever we can to save lives.” Where to begin? How about, why did you fire the person working hardest to save dogs’ lives in the shelter? You let Emily Tanen (who is not part of Urgent, although we’d love to have her!) go last week without even having a replacement hired, and your underlings even acknowledged during her firing that “We’re not downplaying how many lives you save, it’s just not working out.” This also reminds us of another lie you told publicly, during the most recent Board meeting. You claimed that pit bulls and adult cats are now your priority. Why then, are pit bulls still prohibited from all your marketing material and press events? Why are pit bulls not mentioned once during your volunteer training classes (we’re not kidding — not even once)? If you were “committed to anything to save lives”, then surely you would see the logic in joining the 20th century and using social media as effectively as this page.
In closing, Julie, we find it hard not to contrast your appearance with that of Emily Tanen, the employee you fired after two years of sleepless dedication to your animals. While everything you, the Executive Director, said tonight was darkly discouraging of adoption and involvement in saving shelter animals, Emily, the fired employee, is still trying to get people into the shelter to save lives. Your misinformed and downright ignorant justifications for your draconian mishandling of the ACC shelter system are horrifying. If this was your audition to get a renewal of your 6-figure job contract, we hope the entire Board was watching.