23 thoughts on “Open Thread

  1. I actually have a question and I hope it won’t unless the floodgates in a negative way. I’d like to know what people involved in advocacy think about transports of animals from the south to the northeast.

    I’m trying to bring reform to my area. The local shelter director has not been on board with the no kill equation in the past and I’m hoping other people can help me change that. What she has done in the last 2 years is to align with North Shore Animal League for transports from the south to the north. I think she saved 500 animals this way last year, most of them dogs. (More than 5,600 were destroyed so that’s a drop in the bucket of her 8k+ intake).

    Some say regional transports are good. Anything to get the animals out of the building and to places where they’ll be adopted. Some say relocating animals just displaces animals already in need in those areas and leads to the death of animals in the north.

    Ultimately the goal is to adopt ourselves out of killing right in our own backyard. I know we can do it. But since the transports are already being used, I’m wondering what people with experience think about the concept.

    1. I think alive is better than dead. But I also think that there is a less wholesome element in the world of rescue, and that transport can actually serve as *pet laundering* for those with bad or greedy intentions.
      When I first got interested in rescue I researched ways to transport huskies from Alaska to the lower 48. (I went to a conference and several folk said they NEVER euthanized a husky because they were so rare!)
      But a lot of the huskies looking for homes up here do not have the people skills required to do well in the suburbs. (I used to think that suburbanites couldn’t deal with huskies either…but I was VERY wrong about that!)
      Sometimes people will transport just so that the choice to kill is made somewhere else…a mindset that just blows me away!
      I believe there is a home for every animal at every shelter. I don’t think we’ll ever find them all if we don’t get more proactive about transporting.
      But an even bigger hurdle is the attitude that an animal would be better off dead than living with *name your less than perfect adopter here*…we have GOT to stop making it so hard for average folk to adopt a shelter pet! (Kill shelters are sometimes pretty good about letting an animal go to just about anybody—except a rescue!) But rescues tend to screen themselves right out of business.

    2. The thing about transporting dogs (and usually the flow seems to go from the South to the NE) is that it’s not like they are loading them up and just dumping them into other kill shelters. The rescues and shelters that are taking these dogs take them on willingly because they have apace for them and believe they can easily find adopters for them. If the receiving shelter/group wants the dogs and transporting them gives the dogs a greater chance of living, then there’s probably not a problem per se.

      If the receiving shelter is “importing” mostly puppies, young and small dogs but still killing healthy dogs then yeah, I’d say that would be a problem. For example, some shelters use dubious temperament tests designed to provoke a dog into growling, baring it’s teeth or biting (like Sue Sternberg’s ridiculous “Assess-A-Pet” system http://www.doggedblog.com/doggedblog/2005/03/the_goodness_of.html) and then use the results to justify killing the animal. In fact, in the documentary “Shelter Dogs,” we see Sue Sternberg importing dogs from shelters in the South only to kill some of them when they fail her little test.

      But the fact that that may happen sometimes doesn’t negate the livesaving potential of transporting dogs, it just means you should know who you are sending your dogs to. Don’t send them to Sue Sternberg, for example! Look at the stats–all it would take is some due diligence to make sure your puppies are going to a group/shelter that’s not likely to kill them.

      1. I drive transport for some of these dogs. What I have learned, being part of and having a dog sanctuary in my home, is to very carefully screen both receivers and senders of these dogs. The majority are doing right; some are dumping and sometimes moving a dog is not in that dog’s best interest. I am leery of places who only want puppies; well, mommas deserve rescue, too. Some of the transporters with whom I work are very careful who drives and for whom they coordinate a transport.
        Sue Sternberg in person was awesome; I am gravely disappointed about her test, which she admits her own dogs can’t pass, much less a stressed shelter dog.
        The Emily Yoffe article is something addressing what we so need to address and do better about in rescue. Not everyone is pristine – not even the shelters and rescues.
        Just two cents.

  2. I got an email from the Mayor’s Alliance promoting the sell of Tshirts, info on submitting your fav. pet photo and last but not least “Adopt a Little New Yorker Today”. I wrote back saying “How does buying a Tshirt and showing off photos get animals in the ACC adopted?! Why don’t you put forth an effort to get animals adopted instead of killing them?!!

    Well, I got an immediate response from a woman named Maggie O’Neill giving me a long paragraph on the brilliant work of the NYACC.
    “Thank you for your email – I’m happy to have the opportunity to answer your questions. In reference to the latter portion of your email –
    since the Mayor’s Alliance was formed in 2003, euthanasia at AC&C has decreased from 74% to a projected 28% in 2011 (and was down to 32% in 2010.) This is fantastic progress – instead of 3 out of 4 animals dying at AC&C, over 3 out of 4 are leaving alive. This progress is in large part due to the work of the Mayor’s Alliance – through our grant for AC&C’s New Hope program, our APOs (Alliance Participating Organizations) thousands of animals leave AC&C alive – headed to forever homes, foster homes, vet hospitals, no-kill shelters and other rescues. Last year our Wheels of Hope fleet transported over 11,000 animals out of AC&C! Last month alone – with two vans out for service – we accumulated over 34,000 miles driving to save these precious lives.

    After I did a spit take I sent her this:
    Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. I’m sure the information you provided is readily at hand for anyone who suggests more proactive work on the part of the Mayor’s Alliance and the ACC.

    I think, no – I know, that if there was a working volunteer program put in place, if there were people being greeted with they enter the ACC shelters to get immediate help, if the ACC shelters were clean and free of airborne diseases that cause healthy animals to get sick and therefore placed on the Euthanasia list to be killed (why, because they’re sick), if the animals were presented each and every weekend in adoption fairs, if every animal were available to potential adopters rather than keeping a lot of them hidden away in filthy cages, if the Mayor’s Alliance would work with the no-kill community to get the DOH to relinquish the ACC to private enterprises that actually WANT to save animals instead of coming up with lame excuses to kill them, if there were shelters in The Bronx and Queens instead of “receiving stations”, if you would stop firing the very people who do all they can to make the animals comfortable, feel loved and try to save them – then that would be a triumph for everyone involved. But until NYC, the richest city in the country, puts forth the efforts mentioned here the sweet, healthy, lonely, scared, beautiful, loving animals unfortunate enough to end up at the ACC will continue to be murdered and tossed into the trash without a second though or a single tug of the heart.

    I am constantly hoping that a moral compass can be found and that the light will finally make it’s way into the hearts of those who make every aspect of the ACC a miserable one for the animals. Until that day I will not be swayed by your “Shelter Speak”. The reason numbers are down is because of the hard working cash strapped rescue groups and certainly NOT because the ACC is doing ANYTHING right. If it weren’t for the rescue groups doing everything they can to save lives the number of animals killed at the ACC would be through the roof!

    And just this very min. I heard back from her. And guess what – she put the blame on the people of NY. “You hit the nail on the head with the systematic issues that face NYC’s animals – not enough funding and animal overpopulation. You did forget, however, that if people stopped breeding their animals, releasing their cats on the street and buying animals from puppy stores…that numbers of animals ever arriving at AC&C would be drastically reduced. ”

    Yes, it’s all our fault!!

    1. Did you realize when you were saying all that stuff about how ACC sucks that you were hitting the nail on the head about the irresponsible public? Yeah, me neither. This is a gem.

      1. There’s more. She responded and I responded back. But I don’t want to take up so much space with these emails so I won’t unless you want to read them and then, of course, I will post them here.

    2. I wanna hear more! Shirley you can make a new and special post out of this fascinating conversation.
      With Love
      the irresponsible critter-saving public

  3. There is no “reply” under your last comment, Shirley and I don’t see what I just posted back so I’ll post again.
    Hello Anne:

    The information I provided is available to anyone that chooses to educate themselves and research as to what proactive work is being done on behalf of NYC’s animals. Anyone can easily go to our website and read our Annual Reports (http://www.animalalliancenyc.org/about/progress2010.htm) and our Progress Reports (http://www.animalalliancenyc.org/about/progress2010.htm) to find this information in far more details.

    While I will try to keep this short, I do wish to address what you wrote below. You hit the nail on the head with the systematic issues that face NYC’s animals – not enough funding and animal overpopulation. You did forget, however, that if people stopped breeding their animals, releasing their cats on the street and buying animals from puppy stores…that numbers of animals ever arriving at AC&C would be drastically reduced.

    However, you seem to be laboring under a basic misunderstanding. We are not AC&C nor do we run AC&C.

    What we do is actively help solve the problem by doing everything in our power. We exist to support the rescue groups and to get animals out of AC&C alive. Those rescue groups you speak of, and rightfully give credit for saving lives, would not be able to do so without the Mayor’s Alliance. It is through our grant that the New Hope program flourishes in getting animals out of the shelter alive, and through our existence (and adoption stipends) that our APO’s are able to pull thousands of animals a year. The reasons numbers are down is because of the rescues…but the Mayor’s Alliance is the vital link in this massive and successful community collaboration. Each one of our programs (please visit AnimalAllianceNYC.org for information on all of them) is geared specifically towards saving lives and making NYC into a no-kill community by 2015.

    This is action, this is change and this is working. This is why the Mayor’s Alliance exists. And, to answer you original inquiry, this is why we promote NYC’s homeless animals and our organization…so we can continue doing this work.


    I wrote back:

    I know that the info is available to all who want to read it. But when Julie Bank tells everyone how great things are going she is doing the bidding of Dr. Thomas Farley and Mayor Bloomberg. Anyone can cook the books and that’s what’s happening here. When the DOH board members went on a tour of the Manhattan ACC last week many animals were killed and/or shipped off to the Brooklyn ACC to show the board members clean empty cages. The place was spit and polished to a glowing shine. But none of this is reality. We all know it. But those who spew lowering numbers of kills and rising numbers of adoptions is party to all the smoke and mirrors and the animals continue to suffer.

    Secondly, I don’t agree with you 100% when you say “if only the public…..” Well, if only the ACC would check for microchips, do everything possible ( and not just what is absolutely required by law) to get animals adopted, if – well, I’ve stated all my “ifs” in the last email and stand by them now. The problem with shelters and organizations that refuse to turn killing into No-Kill is that the onus is placed on the public. Yes, spay/neuter is a must, keeping your pets inside or on a leash, adopting rather than buying – all are things the public can do. But don’t leave all the heavy lifting to the public. When someone wants to adopt a dog or cat and then has to wait HOURS, talk to people at the ACC who don’t know what’s going on, who have to make multiple trips to the shelter to adopt then there is a huge disconnect between the shelter and the public. Frankly, I think most of the public is doing their job and think that the NY Shelter system is not and needs to do some heavy lifting as well.

    Why didn’t the Mayor’s Alliance speak up when Emily Tannen and Jeff Latzer were fired from the ACC? “Fired” may not be the right word since they were volunteers who spent over 40 hours a week at the ACC but they were the best, most dedicated volunteers at the ACC and were suddenly BANNED from the premise. Where was the Mayor’s Alliance then? I know that the Mayor’s Alliance is NOT the ACC but you work closely with them and have rights to speak up when you see things going wrong.

    Why was the Mayor’s Alliance on the side of Christine Quinn and helped/approved of the passing of Bill 0655? That bill let the city walk away from it’s legal obligation to have a shelter in all 5 boroughs. But on the day that bill passed people from the Mayor’s Alliance, including Jane Hoffman, along with the ASPCA were there to watch it pass. I was there as well and it made me sick to think that organizations that are supposed to exist for the sole purpose to help every animal were proud and happy and gleeful at the passing of the bill. When I see the Mayor’s Alliance side with those who provide the smoke and mirrors I have to speak up.

    I am not saying that the Mayor’s Alliance doesn’t do good work. But why divvy up your efforts for both saving animals on the one hand and doing what you can to hurt them on the other? You can understand my confusion and dismay.

    Oh, and Maddie’s Fund was founded over a decade ago, with the stated purpose of delivering a No Kill nation within five years by “infusing megabucks into every community.” When the promised No Kill nation did not materialize, we were subsequently told it would take an additional five years, and then, after that, we are told it would take five more. But after 11 years and $100,000,000, and with not a single No Kill community—let alone the promised No Kill nation—to its credit, it appears that Maddie’s Fund is throwing in the towel. Maddie’s Fund is telling people it will not fund new No Kill initiatives.

    It is true that the numbers have been steadily declining over the years. The problem is that just because it goes in one direction for 30 years doesn’t mean it will continue to go in that direction. Moreover, if you plot it by year and you look at the last few, it’s relatively flat. And the reason for that explains why saving the last 4,000,000 is nothing at all like the first 16 million.

    The problem with the last 4,000,000 is that killing shelters—organizations staffed by neglectful, abusive, uncaring directors and their equally uncaring staff—which already have the tools to save lives today but simply refuse to. They haven’t contributed much of anything. The public did most of the heavy lifting in getting us to where we are now. By spaying and neutering. By adopting from shelters. By becoming sophisticated, networked rescuers. With some notable exceptions, much of the lifesaving has been because of reduced impounds, not increased adoptions.
    I don’t wish to get into an argument with you Maggie. And that’s not why I’m emailing you. A healthy discourse is what I’m after and until we who support the No-Kill community see a major change in the way the shelters are run we will continue to speak up.

    Thank you,
    anne davis

  4. I just created a FB page called Raven’s Journey that will follow the progress of the little black lab that I’m fostering for Save A Lab rescue. She was found in Kentucky as a stray and appears to have possible been hit by a car at some point. She does not have use of her right back leg. When she came to us almost two weeks ago she was a real mess. Alot of people came together to get her out of the shelter (she was about 15 minutes from being euthanized) and I’m so very grateful they did – she is one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever met. With so many people wanting to know how she was doing, I thought having her own page would help.

  5. I just got a message from a friend about a situation in Orange County, NC,:

    “A friend of ours has a sweet dog named Maple who escaped from her yard and attacked a cat. Now the animal shelter wants to euthanize her. They have agreed to not do so if Maple can find a home in another county. Can you or anyone you know take her? She’s about 8 years old and has some German Shepard in her but is basically a mutt. A very sweet mutt. The current owners are extremely upset and desperately seeking a way to keep Maple alive. Please contact lcarl001@nc.rr.com or lcarl@ncccu.edu if you can help.”

    Now first step is helping the dog, I know, but in my opinion, attacking a cat is something really normal for a dog to do, and I think killing a dog for it is outrageously wrong. I mean, I love cats and I don’t want them to be attacked, but I don’t think a dog who attacks a cat should earn a death sentence, and my impulse is to publicly shame the shelter into relenting. What’s really telling is that the shelter is willing to let the dog live if it goes to another county … so this dog is enough of a mortal menace to KILL, but not so much of a mortal menace that you don’t mind fobbing it off on another county? or am I wrong and the shelter is right?

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