Even those people who are new to Urgent know that NYC AC&C does not waste any time slapping a dog on the kill list to clear kennel space and stack animals in their fancy freezers. You know a dog’s time is limited as soon as its paws cross the threshold into one of their “care” centers. You know their time there is short… even if they ace their behavior evaluation. But we must tell you something you may not know. That even once an animal has been pulled by a rescue group using their online reserve system, and the rescue has received confirmation, they may still kill that dog or cat.
Nice, a one-year-old Schipperke-mix, immediately caught the eye of Manhattan volunteers and grabbed hold of their hearts. Although he was noted to be shy and nervous during his evaluation, the volunteer bios told a different story. They told of a sweet, affectionate and needy little dog– one eager to be hugged and kissed. They bonded deeply with this handsome young boy with the softest coat in the city. When volunteers speak, the Urgent Family listens. Hundreds of you rallied for Nice. Late Sunday night, a rescue reserved Nice via the online system as they had a wonderful prospective forever home for him. To be on the safe side, this rescue also followed up by sending an email to New Hope staff, confirming that they would like to pull Nice. Having used the online reserve system and a back-up email, the rescuer finally went to sleep, feeling secure that she had just helped save a life. But at 10 am, she received alarming news – Nice was dead. Despite having reserved him, despite her follow-up email to New Hope staff, despite him showing as “reserved” on the website, Nice somehow ended up in a freezer.
Once again, NYC AC&C has proved to be incompetent. Their online system was supposed to be a safeguard against mistakes… a way to make the pulling process easier for both shelter staff and rescuers. But with so many alarming stories lately of “computer glitches” and “errors,” most groups follow-up their online pull with an email to New Hope staff or a call to the hotline (ie the old system the online fiasco is supposed to have replaced). Clearly, following up with just one back-up plan is not enough. The rescuer emailed New Hope staff, but they don’t get in until 10 am. By that time, Nice had already made his last walk down the dingy hallway and been pumped full of pentobarbital. By the time New Hope staff saw the email Nice’s body was already cold.
What will it take to get the city’s shelter system under control? Clearly, it’s not just human error and incompetence but the entire system that is faulty. Until these issues are rectified, AC&C needs to wait a few more hours before they start their death chores each day. Normally Brooklyn starts very early – if you don’t have your pull in by 6 am, the dog may very well be gone by the time you get a hold of someone at the Brooklyn shelter. But with Manhattan, rescuers typically had a little more time in the mornings, they were often able to get in last minute pulls and save animals even after the 6 am deadline. Clearly those days are now gone, just like Nice.
Nice isn’t the first dog to be killed accidentally and he now joins several others this month who would still be alive had ACC just waited a few more hours to put the needle in.
Briane was a beautiful 1 year old girl who landed on the euth list last week. With a 4 on the dog to dog part of her eval, a rescuer was hesitant to pull her. They tried contacting New Hope in Manhattan several times to see if they could re-test her, starting first thing in the morning. Their calls and emails went unanswered. The rescue later saw Briane in the Gone folder.
Teddy was also on the euth list last week. This handsome 2 yr old boy had a stellar evaluation and many volunteer praises. A rescue tried contacting New Hope shortly before noon on the day Teddy was to be killed. They received no response to their many inquiries. Teddy later ended up in the Gone folder, but sources say he was seen alive well after 12 pm. Had New Hope just checked their emails or answered calls, Teddy would be playing in the grass right now.
Captain was surrendered to the Manhattan shelter along with 7 other dogs. He hit the euth list last week and was not reserved by 6 am. A rescue tried to pull him early that morning, once they had placement for him, but no one responded to their messages. By the time someone bothered getting back to them, Captain had already been killed.
Jewel is another dog a rescue tried to pull at 8am as they had just found a placement for her. Sadly, she too, was already dead.
According to their website, AC&C’s New Hope department “establishes and cultivates mutually beneficial and productive relationships with . . . animal placement organizations that assist and partner with AC&C in placing animals.” Cultivate? Mutually beneficial? Productive? Lately it seems New Hope is not pulling their weight in this relationship. It seems they have forgotten that the very reason for their department’s existence is to COMMUNICATE with rescue groups… to act as a life-saving liason with their partner rescues. That communication *should* include responding to ALL email inquires in a timely manner. It *should* include devoting at least the first hour of their day to responding to rescues who were trying to pull animals from the previous night’s kill list… or who are trying to check the status of an animal they have a placement for. It *should* including actually answering the ringing telephone line for rescues. Unfortunately, and sadly, more and more of late this is not the case. Emails are not answered timely. Kill list animals are dying when they have placements open to them. Sometimes emails from rescues aren’t returned at all. Other times, they are returned days and days later… often by this time the rescues fosters have taken another animal in instead. The New Hope telephone lines for rescues ring unanswered more often than not.
Today, Urgent is asking, and every person in NY (and on this page) to demand, that the NYC ACC start putting PLACEMENT higher on their list of priorities. STOP killing at 6AM. Wait for your New Hope staff to get to their desks and make checking their emails and voicemails a TOP priority every morning. Saving lives should come first and too many that could have been saved are dying needlessly.
So tell us Julie, what will you do to help these animals in your care and show us that you support 11th hour saves? What will you do to make sure that every animal that can get out, does get out? When can you assure us that the new pull system you have in place will work, and that “accidents” (like killing Nice,) will never happen again? Please stop denying that there is a problem, and show us that you are doing everything in your power to fix what is obviously very broken.
Thomas Farley, M.D
NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
125 Worth Street, 3rd floor
New York, NY 10013
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
New York, NY 10007