Maddie’s Fund believes in transparency. Sort of. Eventually. They do publish some of their data, but it takes a very long time.
The data from their New York City Project is published on this page, which I check in with pretty regularly. The 2011 data took quite a while to be published, and I inquired several times about the status of disclosure throughout 2012. Today a search popped up and finally, in 2013, the 2011 data is now available.
We’re going to take a quick overview today of the most interesting document published, a strategic document: A Strategy for Transforming NYC into a “No-Kill” as updated for 2011, believed to have been written in 2010. It is very, very important to note that this document is no longer current and does not reflect current information, however it it does provide some clues as to possible future changes in the Mayor’s Alliance and Maddie’s intentions for the future.
By far the most interesting disclosure in this document is this: Maddie’s wants out. Year 7 in the project was 2011, Year 8 in the project is 2012, Year 9 is 2013. According to this document, pages 56 & 57, Maddie’s was at one time intending to stop funding the project in 2012, leaving the cost of running the Mayor’s Alliance to be funded by their own fundraising and the ASPCA. This document does not disclose how much funding the ASPCA would be responsible for and it’s difficult to see what the ASPCA would be getting out of this arrangement – they certainly don’t need to be a major source of funding for a project that they don’t have direct control of, it doesn’t do anything for them.
I doubt this plan was enacted on the schedule laid out in this document; Maddie’s still seems to be actively involved in funding the Mayor’s Alliance and there are some very clear signs of the Alliance flailing for funding. Their 2011 Form 990 listed Maddie’s Fund as their major contributor providing more than 5 million in funding but also stated that “IN 2012 AND GOING FORWARD THE MAJORITY OF THE ORGANIZATION’S DONATIONS SHOULD COME FROM INDIVIDUALS, PUBLIC CHARITIES, AND/OR FOUNDATIONS LIKE PETCO THAT GET THEIR DONATIONS FROM THE PUBLIC”, indicating a very clear intent of a change in direction – Maddie’s Fund is a private family foundation. They don’t seem to be getting much support from the general public (for excellent reason), and it remains to be seen if they will woo the major suitor they need to survive until 2015 and almost certainly beyond. A bureaucracy, once created, rarely disappears voluntarily – just ask the March of Dimes, founded to eradicate polio. Nonetheless, these signs clearly lay out an exit strategy for Maddie’s Fund to get out of New York City.
There are a few other nuggets of interest buried in these 82 pages. Page 8 repeats the fiction, thoroughly disproved, that NYCACC hasn’t killed a healthy animal since 2009.
On page 9 we discover that Maddie’s and the Mayor’s Alliance did (do?) not expect AC&C to get better at adoptions. They actually projected a decline in AC&C adoptions proportional to a drop in intake, leveling out at 7000 adoptions in 2014 and 2015. The report projects this baseline for 2011 to be 8000 adoptions. In fact, AC&C did a total of 5730 adoptions to the public. It is interesting that Maddies projection was off by so much and forecasts that number to decline.
Page 9 also projects that by the end of 2013 there will be no more euthanasia for treatable illnesses. No more kill listing for URIs, kennel cough, a sniffle, a broken leg. No, really. Stop laughing, I’m serious.
The most interesting thing about page 9 is that it shows at the end of the project in 2015 8000 animals per year are projected to be classified as “unhealthy and untreatable” in New York City and killed, and implies that that will be a successful conclusion to the project. In 2011, adjusted total intake (subtracting owner-requested euthanasias) for New York City Animal Care and Control was 30155 animals. Killing 8000 animals at curent intake levels gives you a kill rate of 26.5%. If intake drops in future years, as expected, that percentage will be higher. Maddie’s seems to be seeking here to redefine a kill rate of 26.5% or higher at the conclusion of the project as No Kill success. Now, for the sake of comparison, animals judged to be “unhealthy and untreatable” in cities that are considered actual No Kill successes range from a high of 10% to as little as 2% or fewer. The tragically high kill rate in New York City will be the end result of a semantic game that allows the shelter to label any animal they so desire “unhealthy” or “untreatable” for any reason in order to justify their death and make any declaration of No Kill success in New York City laughable.
One more minor tidbit to close with. On page 63 we learn that in 2011 the Alliance was projected to receive 27 percent of its income in donations from individuals, in 2012 that projection jumps to 46 percent. Financial statements from 2011 show that they fell well short of that goal and raise the possibility that Maddie’s may be trapped here by the Alliance’s inability to become self-sufficient. Aside from their terrible reputation in New York City rescue and promotion of some incredibly poor and deadly legislative ideas, the Mayor’s Alliance is currently saddled with the albatross that is their name. Naming themselves something that made them sound quasi-governmental may have seemed like a good idea in the days when their funding came exclusively from private, deep-pocketed foundations and they needed instant recognition and credibility but now that they’re seeking funding from the public they are discovering that the public generally doesn’t like to donate to what is perceived as a public organization, particularly one whose name conjures up images of a billionaire mayor. They are unlikely to find fundraising success without renaming and rebranding, and they’re running out of time to do so.
Is it 2015 yet?
Maddie’s Fund did not respond to a request for comment on this story.