Thursday, August 20, 2009

Exec Director of NYC Animal Care and Control to depart

The Executive Director of NYC Animal Care and Control, Charlene Pedrolie, will not be renewed in October, according to a New York Tails breaking news story.
Some rescuers and volunteers signed a petition, which was started by Laurie Bleier, Director of Brooklyn Animal Foster Network, which called for her firing or resignation. Bleier used to be heavily involved with Animal Care and Control, taking on the "Animals Didn't Do Anything" advertising campaign which used mug shots of dogs and cats at shelters to advocate for adoptions from AC&C. Though it remains unclear why, Bleier and BAFN no longer are a part of the community of rescuers that may pull animals from AC&C. Bleier has been outspoken, but it seems media have had a hard time getting rebuttal from AC&C, by the way this Brooklyn Paper article reads. On the other hand, Bleier has been accused of having a less-than-perfect track record according to other media.
The deal on Charlene is mixed, though, in my experience with rescuers and advocates in the city, she was not liked by many, but she did have a couple fans within AC&C, who I know. At this point, energies should be directed at the odd pairing of government entity and non-profit within one body that is NYC AC&C. Like changing the GM of the Mets, until the house is sorted out inside, doesn't matter who's at the healm.

The problem really lies in the job itself and the way AC&C functions -- which is as both a city-run entity AND a 501(c)(3) non-profit. That means that, although it is a high-kill shelter, the city, the top management, and staff are under pressure to paint a picture of functionality and improvement in order to get the desperately needed donations from the public. One group, Dogs in Danger, tried to post animals at AC&C that were on the euth list, and they succeeded until, the blog says, Pedrolie came aboard and said no, because it was bad for the AC&C image. Luckily the New Hope Program sends alerts out to hundreds of rescuers every day with animal pictures and their bios, in hopes that they can be saved. In addition, people on this email list cross post to outsiders, on social networks such as Facebook, and on Craigslist. It seems that the image issue concerning going public with the pleas for saving soon-to-be-euthanized animals has dissipated. I believe this is a good thing. If more of the public really understood what a crisis level we are at in terms of animal homelessness and euthanasia, they may opt to walk past the pet store and straight up to 110th Street to the Manhattan Animal Care shelter.

The key problem for AC&C is that the system is grotesquely underfunded, and I believe that this government/private non-profit contruct is at the crux. I have met at least one person who will not give money to a kill shelter. I think that is ludicrous. Any municipal shelter that must take in animals brought to it must euthanize -- it is a necessary evil. By neglecting the operations there by either not volunteering or not giving donations, hurts only the animals.

The ASPCA dumped the AC&C on the City in 1993, and the Department of Sanitation was the part of City government that took control. Power was transferred over to the Department of Health, however, as the City deemed it in better taste. DOH has had full control of the Board for AC&C as well as the appointment of Executive Director and other top management. The DOH oversees all, and many activists for shelter animals here in the city have taken issue with that, calling for a specific department for domestic animal and wildlife, apart from the DOH. Given that the animal shelters used to be controlled by Sanitation and moved to Health, this perhaps is a natural progression as the country learns just how critical the fight against overpopulation and neglect and cruelty is today.

At one point, a crew of proactive New Yorkers operated a reform committee called the Shelter Action Reform Committee, whose mission statement is "To improve conditions and accountability in the New York City animal shelter system through education, lobbying, legislative initiatives and legal action." It is uncertain whether or not the SARC is still active in its mission, but those who started it, including former President of United Action for Animals, Gary Kaskel, have moved on.

Stay tuned to New York Tails for more...never a dull moment!

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