Chaos and Disorder at NYCACC

It’s been a tumultuous week for New York City Animal Care and Control (NYCACC). Early in the week, incompetent and inexperienced Operations Director Douglas Boles was fired, reportedly for okaying the killing of a dog that a family was on their way to reclaim.

On Wednesday, Executive Director Julie Bank announced her resignation just a few months into her new contract, citing “family reasons”, which we all know is code for Definitely Not Family Reasons. Did the pressure get to her? The death? Not being allowed to make improvements, or even really try? Did someone ask her to go into the shelters she runs? Julie was reportedly to stay for the transition period to Interim Executive Director Risa Weinstock, NYCACC’s longtime General Counsel, loyalist, and former Interim Director – but I was surprised to see Risa in the Brooklyn shelter today without Julie, unless Julie was hiding in a care area… nahhh, who am I kidding.

Later in the day today it became clear what Risa was there to do: fire people. She dismissed the Brooklyn Shelter Manager, who will not be missed, but she also fired a longtime and well respected person from the New Hope department, the department that interfaces with rescues and helps to get animals out to them. Why we do not know. [UPDATE 10/1: It appears that the New Hope staffer may have been suspended, not fired. I'm glad they'll still be there.]

Today the Facebook group Urgent Part 2 published a note entitled “The Real Reason Julie Bank Resigned“, but their explanation can’t be the full reason.

Julie Bank did not resign because an underling approved the killing of an owned dog. That person was immediately dismissed, and that would have been all the defense she needed: the responsible party has been fired. Julie Bank did not resign because of pending lawsuits due to the wrongful death of a dog, or a dog biting a member of the public, or even dogs biting multiple members of the public. Shelters carry liability insurance for that sort of thing, and if DoH and city lawyers get involved they could tie up a lawsuit in courts for years. Generally speaking, when a shelter kills a dog by mistake, the resulting lawsuit does not involve a huge payout – the courts typically order a settlement according to the “value” of the dog as a purchased item, not a living being. None of these are reasons for a director to flee. Fire the offending parties, issue your mea culpas, and you’ll survive. NYCACC routinely kills animals by mistake – or tortures them to death by getting them sick and ignoring their treatments, and I’ve documented incidents of both here. It’s business as usual.

The firings at Brooklyn obviously have nothing to do with any of this – Helena was in the Manhattan shelter, as were the reported bite incidents – and if your office is in Park Place and you felt like doing some housecleaning, well, Ellen Curtis and Richard Gentles have offices quite nearby. Why would they not start the housecleaning in Manhattan? The firing of a longtime and effective New Hope staffer is especially curious. Risa Weinstock does not have a history in her previous stint as Interim Director as a crusading reformer, but as a mantainer of the status quo. She is, however, a lawyer…

I could offer some theories, but they would be purely speculative at this point. Gross financial malfeasance, or a major pending criminal investigation. There is much we do not know. If the fired New Hope staffer is reading this, please contact me – I can be emailed at jbsibley@gmail.com. I’d like to hear your side.

There is reportedly a full staff meeting in Manhattan tomorrow. Word was that today was spent cleaning the Manhattan shelter, removing the hallway cages, transferring animals to the ASPCA, making everything look as good as possible. Are board members visiting? I am expecting more employees to be dismissed before tomorrow’s end of day. Right now this looks a lot more like shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic than any sort of catalyst for reform – but one never knows.

UPDATE 9/28: Word is that the Manhattan Volunteer Liason has quit.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jacquieb62 Jacquie Byron

    Moved animals to the ASPCA? Why?

    • http://www.johnsibley.com/ John Sibley

      So it doesn’t appear packed, loud, and smelly.

    • Damifino

      So that when the flying shit settles down the ASPCA can quietly transfer them back to be quietly killed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thebluelantern Mary McMahon

    I am new to all this but can tell you I have no use for the NY ACC either. They killed a dog (Blake) this morning although he had a foster and rescue lined up. They didn’t answer phone calls or emails, they just killed him at 6AM and then found out, but it was too late. Blake would probably be free right now, instead of dead. He was a good dog and deserved to live. Let’s hope this is that catalyst, this place is a hell hole.

  • db

    This is one story I will be following closely. Is it at all possible they are hearing enough bad things that they just might do something to clean up this whole mess? (Not being a New Yorker, is this about it being an election year?)

    @facebook-520771678:disqus – I’m sorry about Blake. They do go on these early morning killing sprees – nothing new here. RIP Blake – you will never again know the cruelty of man.

    • http://www.johnsibley.com/ John Sibley

      NY mayoral election is in 2013. No declared candidates yet. Current mayor term limited.

      • goober grape

        It was limited last time. If Hizzoner wants to set himself up as Mayor4Life, he’s gonna have to work harder to impress me.

      • http://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.mcmahon Elizabeth McMahon

        One word: Quinn. Please work with us to prevent her from being elected. She is hand selected by Bloomberg, and heavily financed by him. She was an effective new politician under the tutelage of Tom Duane years ago who crossed over to the dark side and has never looked back. If she is elected it will be a continued nightmare for NYC’s animals, and NYCers themselves. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXoANkQh93I

  • Amazex3

    This is absolutely disgusting, being that NYC (the BIG Apple) is supposed to be one of the richest cities where everyone wants to be and yet this is what they are doing to “help” these animals. It’s a disgrace other shelters in less populated areas do their absolute best to adopt out or rescue animals while NYCACC is just killing them as if they have no value. These animals just want love and a second chance!

    • goober grape

      They’re innocent animals. We pay out the nose for animals on Rikers.

      • goober grape

        Dislike my comment, but there are plenty of guilty people in jail, and they did horrible things to get there. And yet they live very comfortably. If shelters had amenities as simple as proper air ventilation, countless lives would be saved.

  • http://www.johnsibley.com/ John Sibley

    The Daily News attributes Bank’s departure partially to frustrations with a lack of funding and cooperation from the city.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2012/09/nyc-animal-care-and-control-leader-stepping-down

    This does not ring true either. Their funding was recently increased, they’re hiring like crazy, the criteria for her employment was very clear, and she recently accepted a contract renewal.

  • goober grape

    I’m gonna go with “Gross financial malfeasance” AND “a major pending criminal investigation.” This is a CYA move and a practical one. Why pay people to run your shelters when you’re not even trying to pretend to save lives? Also, under the bus!

  • http://www.facebook.com/honey.stattfordshire Honey Stattfordshire

    Fully agree, there has to be more afoot as the actions do not appear to be driven by the single incident and they actually made Melissa Weber the Acting Operations Director so why “promote” the line manager from the facillity that the incident ocured.

    • http://www.johnsibley.com/ John Sibley

      An excellent point.

  • ahimsa1

    Risa Weinstock is who, after no less than 3 SCREW UPS by acc and a pull from the euth list that saved acc a lawsuit, decided to return a dog to her neglegent owner …dog was seized by police recently and killed after her DOH hold because after 2 years back with her shitty owner she had become aggressive …
    I pray she will dk better but i have my reservations …

  • PhillipHolstein

    The city where everyone wants to live? What a joke. I have traveled all over the USA & never for one second was this shit stain of a city someplace I would even consider visiting.

    • http://www.johnsibley.com/ John Sibley

      Dont expect to get very far ’round here with that.

  • Najiyyah Ali

    Get your facts straight before you post them please. I was the shelter manager ” that wont be missed” that you write about and at that time I was not fired nor was the New hope staff member that you mention ( well respected because she learned how to be a New hope staff member by way of training with former new hope staffer aka the manager that won’t be missed). This is why the animal care and control still exist as it does because pure ignorance is bliss. Too much finger pointing with little to no facts. Selfish people that only want the hear themselves as they pretend to be the voice of the animal in dire need of saving.

    • http://www.johnsibley.com/ John Sibley

      Ooo, look who’s here, displaying the charm that makes them ex-management material. You know this is from, like, 5 months ago, right? Very, very glad the New Hope staffer is back after that little misunderstanding. You, not so much.

      OK: so if you weren’t fired… uh, you’d always dreamed of starving in self-publishing? C’mon now. Nobody’s buying that.

      “Pure ignorance”. OK, let’s talk a little knowledge: in your time as a manager I was routinely in your facility pulling for rescue. I pulled animals who were desperately ill and hadn’t been treated, who were badly injured and had not received adequate pain control, who were grossly misdiagnosed and mistreated. Sick animals being led out from the back into a public lobby in direct contact with other animals during their intake. Outbreaks of deadly and unusual diseases not disclosed to receiving rescues. Although there was always lots of staff around (mostly milling aimlessly about the front desk), it’s only since you’ve left that I’m able to get an animal out of there in less than an hour of waiting.

      The suffering and death that took place under your management was massive, but like the rest you take no responsibility. No surprise; those who supervise the mistreatment and killing of animals always put the blame elsewhere. The animals who died under your supervision and “leadership” were right there in front of you, “in dire need of saving”. You had the ability to help them.

      Do you understand how your asinine procedures make it so much more difficult to get animals out and the money wasted healing them once you’ve gotten them sick? Do you understand how that drives the cost of rescue through the roof and increases the number of horrible, suffering, needless deaths? All the endless waiting, the disorganization, the lack of accurate information about animals. The illness you did nothing to prevent and, in fact, promote.

      If there’s any small comfort for you it’s that Manwiller is widely expected to be much, much worse. Time will tell.

      Good riddance. Stay in publishing.

      • Najiyyah Ali

        We can only work with the tools that we are given and unfortunately there wasnt much to work with. You talk about placing blame but as you stated you were only visiting, you have no idea of the inner workings of the Animal Care and Control of New York City. Many people who work there work there because of their attempts to contribute to the animals there and unbenownst to them they step into a place of complete dishevel thanks to the rules put in place that work as shackles for those that want to help. You never spoke with me nor do you know anything about my contributions to animal welfare in general. As far as processes I agree there were plenty of them but they were not mines, they belonged to the animal care and control’s upper management. No I will not take responsiblitty for someone elses mismanagement. As far as the medical care of animals how can you treat animals and care for them properly? Hundreds of animals and no medical staff equal disaster no matter who is in charge so get your facts straight. There were 6 techs (some not even techs and one staffed Veterinarian on duty). Do your math 7 days a week 24 hours a day hundreds of animals. I left the animals to the competant care of people like you, the City of New York and the leaders of ac&c were after my contribution of 15 years. I’d rather be a starved publicist then surrounded by and participate in a bunch of hypocracy. In my years in animal control I stayed on with hopes that it would get better but now I see that it is only getting worse.The same people that you give praise to are the same people that you should keep you eye on. The New Hope staff member Sabrina James would be the person that you refer to as New Hope staff and she no longer works in that capacity. You’re barking up the wrong tree and really need to get a connection on the inside that can give you real information about AC&C. With that said its been great chatting with you back to my corner as a starving publicist.