Thursday, September 23, 2010

New Hope kill code: TOOYOUNG

We've received an interesting New Hope alert. Most of the document is fairly routine (well, for the AC&C), cats that need medical rescue, until you reach page 7, where you start seeing kittens. Reason they landed on the kill list? The New Hope code is TOOYOUNG. Adam, on page 7, is entirely capable of eating on his own at 7 weeks. He needs no special care. He's healthy and has no behavioral issues - but "TOOYOUNG" is valid reason to kill him. Jenny, on page 9, is too young to live at 8 weeks. Moby, on page 10, is too young to live at 5 weeks. The notes go on to explain that they are "too young to be adopted out". Huh? They're weaned, they're eating on their own, they're completely adorable - this is the perfect time to adopt them out. It doesn't get any better.

Too young to live. Hey AC&C, remember that paper you signed with Maddie's Fund where you guaranteed Zero Healthy Deaths? Is Too Young a new illness?

There's also the usual highly offensive notice to not share any of this information outside of New Hope partners - because only a New Hope partner qualifies or is qualified to take on the challenge of a healthy 8 week old kitten. God forbid the public get a hold of one.


Another perspective on the importance of volunteers. Part of Nevada Humane's turnaround was boosting their volunteers from 30... to 1300, in a year.

If AC&C is to give No Kill any more than mere lip service they might try to emulate some of the country's best shelters. Cost of beefing up your volunteer program? Done right, pretty much nothing. Value? Immeasurable.

Continuing to Grow

Nathan's article on the AC&C was picked up by the blog of the Chicago Post-Tribune.

The Word Spreads

The word spreads - this is a different article than the Daily News, but with a similar headline. They just can't resist the pun. The new volunteer rules are not, as Ms. Bank says, designed to "draw more helpers in the future". If anything, they are designed to keep volunteers to an absolute minimum while silencing the few that remain.

We are not here merely to criticize, we are eager to help. That is what animal lovers do. Open your doors and accept the help offered to you by so many in a time of crisis.


Today's tidbit is this notice from the AC&C's volunteer newsletter. It was evidently exhausting work shutting down the volunteer program for a full redesign all summer and doing a single round of orientations - only the first step in the long process volunteers must fight through in order to provide their help to the AC&C. It was so exhausting that the volunteer coordinator is taking a week off, which wouldn't be such a big deal except that she alone does all the orientation, screening, and approval of every volunteer in the New York City shelter system and nothing will be done while she is away.

The volunteer program is still at a standstill; although orientations have been done and applications have been taken, not a single new volunteer has started work under the newly re-opened program - mostly due to the previously documented mountain of hoops they must jump through to provide their help. While budget cuts have left the AC&C desperately understaffed, the one and only person empowered to recruit free labor in a time of crisis has put the project back on "hold", as it's been all summer. Meanwhile, we hear more and more of animals who never leave their kennel or crate because there are not enough people to take them out.

Enjoy your vacation.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Board Meeting

Shelter Reform Action Committee has posted notice of the next Board meeting of the AC&C, which is to be held Tuesday, September 28th, at 3PM. It will be at the 3rd floor boardroom in the headquarters of the Department of Health at 125 Worth St - give yourself a few minutes to get through the security screening. We'll see you there.


If there are any Mayor's Alliance members looking for foster parents who would like a plug, please feel free to post on our Facebook wall and we'll repeat the message! With the new barriers to fostering put in place by the AC&C, we can't imagine too many people will be fostering directly, but you can far more easily foster an animal through an Alliance-affiliated rescue and save a life.

Potential foster parents for AC&C must now:

- Attend an orientation.
- Submit an application
- Go to an interview and, if accepted, pay $25
- Attend a foster care class
- Complete "Power of a Picture/Story" Training
- Attend Bottle Baby Training (if fostering neo-natals)
- Attend classes specific to the species fostered:
...Behavior, Body Language and Handling class
...General Medical class
- Mentor with AC&C staff member/volunteer

Then you might be able to foster an animal. Months later.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

NYC AC&C's No Kill Lip Service

In an otherwise very good overview of the NYC AC&C's operations, AC&C's Volunteer Coordinator Elisabeth Manwiller strays from the facts when she goes into her discussion of No Kill during a volunteer orientation session.

According to her, every city needs not only No Kill rescue groups which are by her definition limited admission, they also need "full service" shelters - which are defined as shelters that kill.

First of all, there are not only open admission No Kill shelters in America, there is an open admission No Kill shelter in New York State - Tompkins County, in Ithaca.

If New York City has a stated goal of becoming No Kill - and that stated goal was repeated several times elsewhere in the presentation - perhaps they should stop calling it impossible and defend their killing as necessary, especially when other communities are doing it. You can't hit a stated goal while simultaneously calling it impossible, and you make it clear that you're merely offering lip service to the No Kill philosophy.

We the people - the people who fund you, by the way - demand better.

Perhaps you could start by streamlining the barriers to volunteering.

Download audio as .mp3 here.

Edit: welcome to our new blog readers! Our primary means of distributing information is via our Facebook group, please feel free to join us there!

AC&C Volunteer Orientation, First Round

So now that the first round of volunteer orientations is complete, we have a few thoughts on the process.

First, the good: the information presented at the orientations is, generally speaking, a good overview, well prepared, and well presented. We have no doubt that the volunteer coordinator, Elisabeth Manwiller, has genuinely good intentions.


In a time when the AC&C has suffered budget cuts and is drastically understaffed and overworked, it is unwise to put into effect a volunteer process so arduous that few are likely to see it through to the end - and a process so focused on classes and training drains precious resources that are desperately needed elsewhere.

Volunteering to do even simple things is now a multi-step project that involves multiple training classes (which will now need to be taught on a regular basis... by whom?), applications and interviews. Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is by example; let's say you're interested in coming in as a volunteer in the Manhattan shelter and socializing cats, and you can commit to a 4 hour shift one day per week. In order to do this, you'll need to apply to be a Cat Companion Level 1 volunteer. The steps you'll have to take are:

- Attend an orientation. Last night's was conveniently offered a mere 120 blocks or so from the Manhattan shelter.
- Submit an application
- Complete a half hour face to face interview. If accepted, a $25 fee will be due.
- Complete 4 mandatory classes: "Cat Behavior, Body Language and Handling", "Shelter Info and Kennel Cleaning", "General Medcial Class", "Bio Writing Class"
- Mentor with AC&C staff or volunteer.

If all goes well, the guidelines given by the volunteer coordinator indicate that you could be starting your duties as a volunteer in as little as "a month or two". Yes, that's a quote. How much training does one actually need to socialize a cat? We would imagine that if you have cats at home, you could probably be up to speed in a hands-on orientation offered at the shelter in less than an hour. Most of us have been through volunteer training in other shelter environments where you begin your duties in less than an hour.

This entire volunteer program has been created by, is supervised by, and is run by one person - a person who is taking a week's vacation now that the program has been introduced, so there will be no progress during that week. She alone does every interview and every orientation for all locations, and she has created a program that very few will complete and is in serious danger of collapsing under its own weight in a time when AC&C desperately needs helping hands.

In a time of budgetary crisis, the AC&C has spent their precious resources created training classes that they now must offer to volunteers on a regular basis prior to allowing them to volunteer. Here's a (not necessarily complete) list of those new classes:

Dog Behavior, Body Language, and Handling
Shelter Info, Kennel Cleaning and Dog Walking
General Medical Class
Bio Writing Class
Cat Behavior, Body Language and Handling
Rabbit Behavior, Body Language and Handling
Adoption Counseling
Breed Identification
Power of a Picture/Story

The coordinator continually brings up her dream of a "fully funded program" - and no wonder. With some funding, you could create a program that not only has a ton of hoops to jump through, they could be flaming hoops!

The AC&C is DYING for manpower and yet they have created a volunteer program that ensures that very few will ever get the privilege of helping them. It doesn't take 4 training classes to socialize a cat or walk a dog, and it doesn't take huge amounts of money to run an effective and open volunteer program.

This gets even more offensive when you consider fostering - foster parents are covered as well under the volunteer program. Potential foster parents for AC&C must now:

- Attend an orientation.
- Submit an application
- Go to an interview and, if accepted, pay $25
- Attend a foster care class
- Complete "Power of a Picture/Story" Training
- Attend Bottle Baby Training (if fostering neo-natals)
- Attend classes specific to the species fostered:
  ...Behavior, Body Language and Handling class
  ...General Medical class
- Mentor with AC&C staff member/volunteer

Then you might be able to foster an animal, months later. While the AC&C drowns the people struggling to meet these requirements in red tape, approximately 1/3 of animal intake goes to their deaths.

It's not too late. Simplify. Get the help you need. Take advantage of the help being offered to you by so many - there had to be at least 100 people at last night's orientation.

Do you really want to weed them down to 3?

You can download the listing of volunteer opportunities and prerequisites here.

Gothamist also takes notice

Animal Care Volunteers Told To STFU By Officials

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Hope stops placing behavioral cases?

Unconfirmed, but from a well-placed source: we hear that the New Hope program will no longer send notices to New Hope partners in an attempt to place dogs who fail the AC&C's behavioral evaluation (these dogs are also not offered to the public for adoption, making this a virtual death sentence). We need documentation to confirm this - if there's anyone who can, please send it to us at Check the info tab for ways to completely conceal your identity.

Make no mistake, the killing machine is ramping up. Sick? Dead. Fail an arbitrary, inaccurate and easily manipulated test? Dead. And all without risking their funding.

The secret is out

We were forwarded an email this morning containing the best kept secret at the AC&C - details of upcoming volunteer orientations (they're STILL not on the website). We encourage EVERYONE to attend if they can!

Brooklyn Volunteer Orientation Thursday, September 9th from 7:00pm – 9:00pm
Brooklyn Borough Hall Courtroom
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Staten Island Volunteer Orientation Saturday, September 11th from 12:00pm – 2:00pm
Greenbelt Recreation Center
501 Brielle Avenue (across from Sea View Hospital)
Staten Island , New York 10314
Cross Streets: Between Walcott and Rockland Avenues

Manhattan Volunteer Orientation Wednesday, September 15th from 7:00pm – 9:00pm
New York City Department of Health
125 Worth Street, 2nd Floor Auditorium
New York, NY 10013

Monday, September 6, 2010

For PR Only

Here it is folks, an open invitation by Director Julie Bank to volunteer at AC&C - a feelgood piece of PR, except that there is still NO CONTACT INFORMATION on the website for those who wish to volunteer, nor is there a list of dates for the required volunteer orientation. There is NO EXCUSE for publishing an open invitation like this that literally goes nowhere. You've drawn this out long enough. Fix it, AC&C - fast.

We strongly suggest that anyone with an interest in helping the animals of New York City email them at and register their interest and willingness to help.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Illness at the AC&C - why letting disease run rampant helps with funding

If one looks at the nightly euth lists it is easy to come to the conclusion that disease runs rampant and largely unchecked at the AC&C. Dogs routinely are executed due to easily treatable conditions like kennel cough, cats on the list for URIs. One reason, perhaps, that this is allowed to continue unabated turns up if... you follow the money.

It's no secret that Maddie's Fund gives large amounts of money distributed through the Mayor's Alliance. Starting in Year 5 of the grant, it became required for the AC&C to have an adoption guarantee for healthy animals - zero healthy deaths.

If they're sick, however, all bets are off.

It seems that Maddie's may have unintentionally created a disincentive for the AC&C to keep animals healthy.



You can find the grant application here, the Zero Healthy Deaths clause can be found on page 25.


Kerry Clair of Middletown, NY's Pets Alive says:

The other thing I believe is that they WANT uri's and other simple illness to run rampant. Remember- their either stats are for HEALTHY dogs. If the dog or cat has the sniffles they don't have to count that animal when they kill it. THIS IS A CRITICAL point.

And for anyone out there that does NOT know, URI (upper respiratory infection) is like a cold to you or me, and is EASILY treatable with a few days of antibiotics.

They let this go because they WANT all the animals they kill to have SOMETHING so that they do not have to mark them down as healthy.

Also remember that EVERY dog that you pull from the CACC comes WITH antibiotics. EVERY one! They come with their paperwork, and antibiotics. So they KNOW this and do nothing ON PURPOSE.
This is a key component.

We're looking for hard, specific data on how many animals are executed for specific conditions. Know anything?

NY Assemblyman Micah Kellner

NYS Assemblyman Micah Kellner is a true hero for the animals of New York City - he reacted to the news of the new "volunteer guidelines" by issuing a letter to Mayor Bloomberg and Health Commissioner Farley informing them that the guidelines were illegal and further wrote to City Comptroller John Liu asking for a meeting to discuss city oversight of an out of control de facto city agency.

Shelter Reform Action Committee

The entire Shelter Reform Action Committee website is an absolutely invaluable reference. They've been fighting the fight for a long time and the history and analysis provided there is top notch.

Of particular note lately are their pages on Julie Bank's tenure to date, their notes on the required August meeting of current volunteers, and an explanation of why the AC&C won't - and can't - use the explanation that they're killing for "space".

New volunteer manuals

The new volunteer manual and waivers, NDA, agreements and application are now available for download.

We are thoroughly appalled that the volunteer program was shut down for an entire summer so that a bureaucrat could concoct these new volunteer documents - overall a pile of overly restrictive, needlessly legalistic, rights violating drivel.

Volunteer program updated.

The volunteer program is (sort of) back, it has been announced and the manuals are available, but no new applications are being processed yet. You must now PAY $25 to be a volunteer for AC&C and sign an illegal waiver that denies you your First Amendment rights to free speech.

Nathan Winograd posted an analysis of the situation here and the No Kill Advocacy Center is looking for volunteers who have been terminated for exercising their right to speak.

Way behind!

We are WAY behind in posting here at the blog, but we'll be catching up today. Remember, you can always see the MOST current news at our Facebook group.