New York City: “Well on its way” to achieving No Kill goal?

Today the Best Friends blog features a note on the continuing success of No Kill by Gregory Castle – and I agree with the broad point he’s making but I have to wonder: why does Best Friends continually lump New York City, my home, into the category of No Kill success even in the continued face of massive institutional failure? Why do they continue to provide support and cover to utter failure in New York City?

Does a city “well on its way to achieving its no-kill goal” get reports from the city comptroller like this? Do cities that are “on their way to achieving No Kill” actively discourage people from volunteering and fostering through onerous prerequisites, put a gag order on their volunteers, and fire staff and volunteers who are effective and widely respected at their jobs? Do cities “on their way to achieving No Kill” hire Executive Directors with records of failure who are rarely seen in the shelters they run, reportedly because ED Julie Bank finds the shelters “too depressing”?

Finally, can you really read about conditions like this and say that a city is on its way to No Kill?

The support from Best Friends of the Mayor’s Alliance has been curious: pumping millions of dollars into the NYCACC per year from the outside did drop the kill numbers in the beginning but the progress has tapered off. The Mayor’s Alliance has been unable to significantly influence NYCACC management or proceedure and so the internal incompetence and indifference continues unabated. One cannot fix a system that does not want to be fixed.

In October of 2010 I attended the Best Friends Conference. One of the presenters at the conference was Jane Hoffman, head of the Mayor’s Alliance. Her presentation was entitled “Great Expectations: How Volunteers and Shelters Can Get the Most Out of Working Together.” I watched in horror as she held up the NYC shelter volunteer program as a model – because I knew, as an NYC resident and someone who had been trying to volunteer for the shelters, that the program she was describing as a success and a model did not yet exist. The manual she presented was still in draft, the volunteer program closed to new volunteers and would not open to new volunteers for months to come – and since the program has opened to new volunteers it has been an abject failure, turning away hundreds of people and graduating as regular volunteers only a few. The arduous and invasive requirements (including the requirement that one sign a vow of secrecy) ensure that few will continue as regular volunteers. The rest of the presentation was equally as horrifying; a seminar on how to control and silence your volunteers as opposed to enabling them.

So why the infatuation with this woman and with this organization? Yes, their early successes were great, but they’ve stalled. New York City’s shelters are infamously abusive, No Kill is not a ghost of a thought in the minds of the staff. Why continue to promote this myth of success?

And so I issue a personal challenge to Best Friends CEO Gregory Castle: on your next trip to NYC, let’s you and I go down to the shelter incognito and check out some of the animals offered for adoption. Let’s sit in the waiting room waiting for someone to be available to help us. Let’s tour the selection of adoptable animals and witness their condition. Let’s see how the staff interact with the animals and with the public. And after that, let’s invite Jeff Latzer and Emily Tanen to have lunch with us.

Then I’d like to see you repeat with a straight face that NYC is “on the road to No Kill”.

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  • I agree. I have been puzzled for a long time as to why certain organizations represent Jane Hoffman as a No Kill or shelter expert. The reports I hear from New York rescuers and advocates are absolutely horrendous.

  • well said, john. well said. it’s disgraceful that the “greatest city in the world” has one of the worst shelter systems.

  • Karen F

    It gets worse . . .

    Here’s what I said over at YesBiscuit!:


    This is an Associated Press story out of their Los Angeles bureau and has already been widely distributed. Even the Guardian has picked it up.

    If you wish to comment on the misuse of the word “euthanasia” in both the headline and the story, as well as the failure to accurately represent the No Kill movement, there are three ways:

    (1) You can comment to your local news outlet if they picked up the story. Be sure to mention that this was an AP story, datelined January 5th, and reference whatever headline your local outlet used. (They probably used the one in the link above, which was undoubtedly furnished by the AP . . . headlines come with wire service story packages and are almost always used, as is, by extremely time-pressured local news editors.)

    (2) You can comment to the chief of the Los Angeles bureau via email. Be sure to explain that the story was datelined January 5th and was written by Sue Manning, and use their headline so he can find it in their system. (Or you could copy and paste the story into your email for his convenience.)

    If you write to the Los Angeles bureau chief, I recommend cc’ing the bureau’s assistant bureau chief along with their news editor:

    Los Angeles Bureau Chief: Anthony Marquez,
    Los Angeles Assistant Bureau Chief: Frank Baker,
    Los Angeles News Editor : Brian Melley,

    (3) You can do what I did. I wrote to the AP bureau chief in New York City, pointed out the inaccuracies in the L.A. bureau’s story, especially regarding the ASPCA, and asked him to assign coverage of the January 21st conference in New York City, which will focus on New York City’s shelter animals and will feature Nathan Winograd.

    I couldn’t find an email address, so I sent a letter via fax, with the L.A. bureau’s story pasted in for the NYC bureau chief’s easy reference:

    Howard Goldberg
    Bureau Chief
    The Associated Press
    450 W. 33rd Street
    New York, New York 10001
    FAX: 212-621-1679

    If you live in or near New York, you can also call the AP’s NYC bureau: main line 212-621-1670, bureau chief 212-621-7932.

    This can never be said too often . . . please be respectful and concise.

    Info about the NYC conference featuring Winograd:

    (And in a subsequent comment I added this link . . . it includes other information about the New York City bureau, such as the names and phone numbers of the assistant bureau chief and the interim NYC news editor:

  • Jeanne

    A lot of the animals that don’t even get seen by the public are rescued because of all the net workers, people who have made the sites for the animals to be networked and and rescues and volunteers who go online after their jobs , volunteering then spending hours networking. These are the people who get the animals seen otherwise they would never be seen if it were up to NYCACC workers. They just don’t get it they have their job because of these animals and to thank the animals they take them to the kill room instead of finding them a home.