NYCACC Schedules Board Meeting for Wed, April 23

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted – and there are definitely a few things that could use an update.

An unprecidented thing happened after the last post on NYCACC’s new Medical Director, Dr. Lisa Hara Levin, and the board meeting that followed – she called me. Over the weekend I’ll be writing up some of the details of that conversation.

But first, because I want everyone to have it on their calendars… the details of the next NYCACC board meeting. The following text is taken directly from the ACC website.

AC&C Board of Directors Meeting
Wednesday, April 23 @10:30AM
2nd floor auditorium at 125 Worth Street, NYC

Auditorium doors will open promptly at 10:15 to allow everyone time to find a seat before the presentation begins. Please have your photo ID to gain access into the building.

Agenda
10:30 Quarterly Update
11:15 Medical Update

Dr. Lisa Levin, Medical Director, will provide an update on her first three months with AC&C and discuss plans for the future.

Do you have a question for Dr. Levin that you would like her to address at the meeting? Click here to submit your question. Questions should be submitted by 5pm Monday, April 21st.

Following Board business and time permitting, public comment will be heard within the time remaining for the Board meeting. During the time set aside for public comments the Board and/or Executive Director will try to address specific questions or topics that fall within their purview. Individuals who wish to provide public comment must sign in prior to the commencement of the Board Meeting. The public comment sign in sheet will be available in the vestibule outside the auditorium at 10:15AM. Individuals will be called based on the order of this sign in sheet. In making a request to provide public comment, individuals must give their names and their title or affiliation. Substitute speakers will not be permitted.

The Board Chairman will introduce each speaker who will have two (2) minutes to present comments. This will be strictly adhered to with the assistance of a timekeeper. Time cannot be donated from one speaker to another. Public comment will be received until the scheduled end of the Board meeting.

Anyone who does not have an opportunity to speak during the public comment period or does not want to speak publicly may submit their questions or comments to info@nycacc.org or place written comments in the comment/suggestion box available in the vestibule outside the auditorium on the day of the meeting. AC&C will respond to your comments by email if appropriate.

Speakers needing any disability related or language accommodation should contact AC&C at info@nycacc.org, at least three (3) days in advance. This includes requests for a sign language translator.

If you’re planning on attending the meeting, please consider bringing a donation of any of the following:

FOR CATS:
Kitten Milk Replacement
Mylar Crinkle Cat Toys
Plastic Lattice Balls
Fuzzy Mice
Pipe Cleaners

FOR DOGS:
Boingo Balls – Large & Small
Biscuit Balls – Large & Small
Strong Rubber Squeaky Toys
Plush Toys

Many of these items can be purchased from our wish lists on PetFlow or Amazon via AmazonSmiles.

Thank you for your kindness.

We’ll see you there.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NYCACC’s Curious Choice of a Medical Director

The good news: New York City Animal Care and Control (NYCACC) has finally hired a medical director after more than three years.

The bad news: this is a very curious choice.

After more than three years without a medical director NYCACC has hired Dr. Lisa Hara Levin for the position. I was excited to see this at first until I started parsing the introduction, which is oddly short on specifics – for example, not listing a single position held in shelter medicine. A lack of detail like that usually indicates a cause for concern, and so I started digging.

Let us begin with Dr. Levin’s postdoctoral education at Johns Hopkins University, where she served in 1987-1988 as a fellow to Dr. Richard Traystman, who at the time was a Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine as well as the director of the Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine Research Laboratories. Dr._LevinDr. Traystman helpfully publishes his resume online where he lists Dr. Levin as one of the postdoctoral fellows he trained in 1987-88. Dr. Traystman mostly trains human doctors but Dr. Levin is one of a handful of vets he has trained as well. Dr. Traystman is a research scientist and extremely prolific publisher of research, and mostly what he does is medical research on animals – to put it bluntly, vivisection. In 1987-88 Dr. Traystman published reams of research also helpfully listed on his online resume which involved experiments that sound rather unpleasant on dogs, cats, sheep, rabbits, infant pigs, and newborn lambs – and that’s just what he published in a two year period. One would assume that as a fellow under Dr. Traystman, Dr. Levin was fairly deeply involved in his research and publishing. This interest in vivisection re-appears later in her career.

From there the digital trail runs cold for a while. In 1994 Dr. Levin published a charming sounding paper entitled “Pain Control in Laboratory Animals”, which would indicate to me that she was still working in the field. I suppose it is some, relatively minor comfort that she had some interest in controlling the pain of animals being experimented on.

Also published in 1994 was a paper written while seemingly employed by the Humane Society of the United States entitled “Appointing Animal Protectionists to Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees“. A little background: every institution that uses animals in research is required to have a committee that monitors and offers input on how the animals are being used. I strongly recommend you read the (non-technical, non-graphic) paper yourself, but what I got out of it was an encouragement to animal research facilities to “reach out” to local animal protectionists in the spirit of… I’m not sure. Some would say cooperation, some would say co-option. I encourage you to read the paper. The Humane Society of the United States, whom she was evidently working for at the time, promoted the paper in their magazine (beginning on p. 30) as a step towards more humane treatment of laboratory animals, if you’re into participating in that sort of thing. As the HSUS said themselves in the magazine, “be willing to work within the system” (p. 34). I’m pretty sure any work within that system would give me nightmares.

In 1996 she was cited in a work entitled “Xenotransplantation: Science, Ethics, and Public Policy” as a participant in the workshop that is the subject of the publication. Xenotransplantation is the act of transplanting cells, tissues or organs from one species to another, and you can bet that’s a field that involves a lot of animal research. That’s not the interesting part, however – the interesting thing is that Dr. Levin is listed as being associated with an organization called “Americans for Medical Progress”, an advocacy organization that promotes and defends vivisection in biomedical research. This would seem to be somewhat at odds with her HSUS work but consistent with her postdoctoral studies.

Our digital trail again falters until around 1997, when Dr. Levin turns up first as an employee and then in 1999 as the very first Director of Veterinary Services for the infamous Associated Humane of Newark, NJ – a group of some very troubled shelters that by the way remain so to this day. Most of what we know of Dr. Levin’s time there comes from the official state investigative report into longtime wrongdoing at Associated Humane published in 2003. The report treats Dr. Levin with kid gloves, indicating to me that she must have been quite helpful to the investigators, but what the report details in facilities that she was the veterinary director of is horrifying and reminds one of some of the ACC’s worst historical practices. Dr. Levin is repeatedly cited in the report for firing off memos to superiors about violations as serious as vet techs performing surgery, but nowhere is it stated that she called law enforcement or state enforcement agencies, and she stayed with Associated for quite a while – from 1997 to 2001. The report contains an entire section on “Violations of the Law”, many of which are veterinary.

After that things quiet down and Dr. Levin turns up here and there in searches. I do not find any online record of her providing medical direction for a shelter facility since Associated Humane. She appears to have worked in private practice, at spay/neuter clinics, and has been associated with a sanctuary in AZ although not evidently as an employee.

I’m not sure what drew NYCACC to Dr. Levin, and my research on her leads me to more questions than answers: is she a former vivisectionist who flipped sides, became more interested in animal welfare, and eventually found her satisfaction in what appears to be a very honest effort to do good for animals through spay/neuter? Why is NYCACC so secretive about her background? Is Associated Humane the only shelter she was ever a medical director at, and why would NYCACC hire a former medical director who worked at one of the most infamously corrupt shelter systems in the country at one of the most tumultuous and brutal times in their history? Does she renounce her participation in animal-based research? Does she maintain ties to organizations that promote the use of research animals?

Is this the best they can do after 3 years of looking?

I think Dr. Levin deserves a chance to explain herself and her background, but I also think New Yorkers deserve to see a complete resume and for that explanation to happen rather quickly. The idea of a former vivisectionist as a shelter medical director is rife with potential conflicts of interest and a mindset that perhaps may not value the life of individual animals in a way that contributes meaningfully to saving them.

I do hope some of you will join me at the board meeting of NYCACC on Thursday, January 30th at 10:30am. The public comment portion of the meeting is bound to be an interesting one.

Posted in Not Funny, NYCACC | Leave a comment

NYCACC Board Meeting Announced

New York City’s Animal Care and Control will hold their quarterly board meeting on Thursday, January 30 at 10:30AM. The official notice is here and is reprinted below.

It seems whenever I post a meeting announcement the first comment is about how inconvenient it is, so let me head you off at the pass on that one: yes, it is inconvenient, and intentionally so. Historically, they don’t really want public participation in the process. So far that’s worked out pretty well for them. Are you willing to help change that?

Notice_of_Board_Meeting01302014

Posted in NYCACC | Leave a comment

And now for an important announcement…

IMG_9062This blog will be going back mostly to “Opinions You Should Have”. All rescue-related activity has gone to a new page for a new rescue I’m very excited about, and we’re launching with a bang by rescuing 15 kittens! Please read the story and like our Facebook page for Pibbles and Kits!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Twilight Adopted!

Once abandoned on the streets of the Bronx, Twilight now has a loving home! Thanks so much to her adopter – a fantastic match! Much thanks to her wonderful foster home as well.

IMG_8868

Posted in Cats, South Bronx | Leave a comment

Kimbo, Once a Bronx Parking Lot Dog, Now Ready For Adoption!

kimboA few people have emailed me lately looking for updates on Kimbo, the dog rescued from living 24/7 in a parking lot in the Bronx. Kimbo went to his foster home with the incredible Scott and Tara Mikolay a few months ago. The Mikolays, who own and operate Desires by Mikolay in Chappaqua, NY are strong supporters of local animal welfare organizations and provided an ideal home for Kimbo to rest up, gain some weight, get evaluated and have some surgery to remove some lumps, bumps and skin tags.

IMG_9745

First things first: I knew Kimbo was fantastic, but I didn’t know exactly how great he was – and he looks so much better, too! He lives with the Mikolays and two other dogs, a male mutt name Pavarotti that’s a bit smaller than him and a tiny little female pug named Minnie. The pug lays down the household rules and Kimbo follows them. He gets along wonderfully with the other two dogs in the home and likes to play with them. He’s also met dogs outside of the home and gets along with them, too!

IMG_9822

People? Kimbo likes them too. He’s met all sorts of people and has done well with everyone, including children.

Kimbo is a bit of a couch potato – he likes to relax and hang out most of the day, but he does come alive for his daily hike, where he is trusted to be off-leash. The Mikolays can’t say enough good things about him – he is just a wonderful, low-key, friendly dog who would do well in a variety of environments and would be as suited for apartment living as he would be for a house. We’ve had some trouble getting an exact handle on his age, but he seems to be middle-aged – between three and six is a rough guess.

Kimbo had recent surgery to remove some skin tags and lumps, one of which was on his back above his spine and was quite large. These lumps were all biopsied and were all benign basal cell tumors – annoying but not life-threatening.

IMG_9794

I can’t believe the progress Kimbo has made from the sad sack of a dog he was living exposed to the elements to the upbeat, friendly guy he is today. When I first met him I even thought he might be gray from the condition of his coat – he is in fact white, and his coat gleams!

Kimbo is fully up to date on shots, neutered, dewormed, microchipped and ready to go directly into his adoptive home. We believe him to be an IMG_9776American Bulldog mix and he’s around 70lbs. He’s come such a long way, but he won’t truly be rescued until he finds his forever home – a home he so deserves.

Can you give Kimbo his happy ending and be his forever family? His foster is about an hour north of New York City but I can facilitate a meet and greet with approved adopters anywhere in the general NYC area and transport him to you. Please email me at adopt@pibblesandkits.com if you’re interested!

IMG_9725

Posted in Dogs, Foster Dogs, New York City, South Bronx | Leave a comment

Sweet Bronx Tuxedo Cat Twilight Seeks Home!

IMG_8079A few weeks ago I was contacted by a landlord here in the Bronx. Tenants of hers had moved out very suddenly and had dumped their cat out in the street. Her newborn had allergies so she couldn’t take the cat in, but she put food out and every day the youngster came to eat.

I was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to find her on cue, but when we turned up to look there she was – she walked right up to us, ready to come along! This sweet young cat is now known as Twilight.

Twilight was immediately spayed and went to a foster family. She’s now had all of her shots and this wonderful and friendly young cat is ready for adoption! Twilight is a medium hair tuxedo cat who is estimated to be around a year old.

IMG_7744Twilight loves play and attention and snuggling. She’s keenly interested in people and rarely shy, showering newcomers with attention. She likes to play games with her toys, too! Twilight loves being the center of attention and loves to snuggle and be held.

Twilight currently lives with two young children whom she loves – she’s great with kids! She is friendly to all people and gets along very well with other cats. We don’t know how she is with dogs yet, but if you’re interested we can try her out!

Twilight is the perfect combination of playful and sweet! If you’d like to meet her, please email me at adopt@pibblesandkits.com. I will happily bring her to approved adopters in reasonable driving distance from New York City for an intro! Twilight is FIV and FeLV negative, up to date on all of her shots, and ready to go home today.

IMG_7432

Twilight is waiting for you!

IMG_9503

Posted in Cats, Foster Cats, New York City, South Bronx | Leave a comment

Dega and the Great Flood

Poor Dega! This wonderful cat was rescued from the streets of the Bronx along with Rico. Rico quickly found a home, but Dega is still in foster.

On top of all that’s happened to her, Dega’s foster home flooded a few weeks ago! She got a little wet but she’s fine and doing very well. Here she’s cuddling with her foster mom after the flood.

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 10.11.34 AM

Dega was very calm throughout the whole thing, but she’s lost her foster home – much of the house she was living in now has to be gutted and rebuilt from flood damage.

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 10.13.36 AMDega is safe and she’s now in a new foster home, but enough is enough – this wonderful, loving young cat needs to find her forever home! I can’t say enough good things about Dega. She is so calm, so even tempered, loving and cuddly without being annoying. She is an awesome young cat who deserves an awesome home. Besides, how great would a jet-black cat be slinking around your Halloween decorations? As always, I’d be happy to bring Dega to meet any seriously interested qualified adopter who is a reasonable drive from New York City. Drop us a line at adopt@pibblesandkits.com!

Posted in Cats, Foster Cats, New York City, South Bronx | Leave a comment

Rex & Roxy: A Soldier’s Dogs

I met the most incredible dogs the other day, a bonded pair of two plus-size mushes in need of a new home as their former owner has been deployed overseas.

IMG_9636

Please, take a look at their story! These incredible dogs could use a hand!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NYC Doesn’t Give A Damn About Animals

Not you, gentle reader. I’m talking about New York City’s government, and specifically Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a man who has never cared a whit for the city’s animals beyond the (very) occasional photo op.

On Friday afternoon the Mayor’s office published its annual Mayor’s Management Report for Fiscal Year 2013, the yearly report on the performance of city agencies.

“For over 35 years the Mayor’s Management Report has been the benchmark for transparency and government accountability and during this administration we have drilled down even deeper to measure more,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway. “With new sections that better explain how the City is performing and how we want to perform in the future, New Yorkers can truly use the MMR to hold government accountable for results.”

Hey, so far, so good! I’m interested in city agency performance. I like to know what my tax dollars are doing. And New York City’s own Animal Care and Control (technically a contractee to the city’s anachronistically named Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, or just DOH) just had a major increase in funding and I’d be interested to see what sort of statistics they would think are relevant to measuring their performance.

I searched the document for “Animal Care and Control” but came up with nothing, so let’s take a look at the section specific to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, it must be in there.

NYC’s Shelter Reform Action Committee has been pounding this point for a long time: the DOH shouldn’t be supervising the Animal Control contract because it’s not part of their mission and/or goals, and this document couldn’t make it more clear that they care not a whit about it (though it is an improvement from the days when the contract was supervised by the city’s Department of Sanitation.) The chapter starts by laying out the goals of the DOH and what exactly they do. In their download (111)five listed services and explanation of what they do, nowhere is it mentioned that they are charged with safeguarding the city’s homeless animals. As a matter of fact, no mention is made of animals whatsoever. When we look at the performance metrics of the agency animals are only discussed, on page 80, in the context of reducing animal risks to human health (and here they’re mostly talking about controlling the rat population) and the issuance of dog licenses. This is once again down – this year to a mere 83,000 licenses (in a city with an estimated 1 million plus dogs) despite lots of noise from the DOH about how important it is and a rather half-hearted ad campaign to that effect. The only thing related to domestic animals in the report is how much money the city is collecting from them, and as with everything else they’re not doing a very good job.

And that’s all you’ll learn from this report. Although the city claims that citizens can “use the MMR to hold government accountable for results”, statistics related to the performance of animal control just aren’t important enough to be included. You can find lots of interesting performance statistics in this document. You can discover how long the city takes to process a purchase order, or how many senior-friendly benches have been installed, or how many complaints were received by the city about private waste haulers. But in a document that is supposed to lay out performance goals of city agencies not only will you not discover such basics as how many animals were killed in city facilities and how many were adopted from those facilities, those activities are considered so unimportant by upper management that the city agency responsible for supervising those activities is permitted to not mention them at all, never mind set performance goals or present performance metrics.

The city simply doesn’t give a damn.

Posted in New York City, NYCACC, Shelter Stuff | Leave a comment