November 1998 posting by CACC executive director Marilyn Haggerty-Blohm on the Brill's Content internet site, and SRAC's response.
Center for Animal Care and Control
Dear Mr. Brill,
It is with great interest that I read your magazine Brill's Content. The media is in need of just such a watchdog.
I am the Executive Director of a not-for-profit corporation in New York City, the Center for Animal Care and Control, Inc. (the "CACC"). The CACC came into existence in late 1994 to take over the responsibilities of animal control in New York City from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (the "ASPCA").
From day one, the CACC has been under attack from animal activists who have enlisted the help of print and television journalists. The most recent article was in New York magazine entitled 'Shelter Skelter' by Elizabeth Hess. The CACC is interested in having Brill's Content do an article under its "Lynched" column on this reporting.
The CACC in many ways is no different from other animal shelters all across the country. The CACC must take in all animals that are brought to its doors. It cannot be selective or limit the number that it takes in. The CACC on average, sees 150 animals come through its doors every day. On the other hand, shelters which have been called "no-kill" are selective and significantly limit the number and type of animal they accept. Being a full service shelter, the CACC receives all types of dogs and cats, young highly adoptable ones as well as very old, sick or aggressive ones which are not necessarily adoptable. As a result, the CACC is forced to euthanize those animals that are not suitable for adoption. Understandably, animal activists are disturbed by this reality, but the media has been willing to sensationalize this at the shelter's expense. Rather than blaming those members of the public who are irresponsible pet owners, they have blamed the shelter for euthanizing animals. Two articles, both by the same reporter, stand out as examples of this sensational reporting.
Elizabeth Hess is a freelance reporter who did a slam article on the CACC for the Village Voice titled "New York's Secret Animal Crisis" dated August 6, 1996 and then another more recently in New York magazine.
The unprofessional nature of her reporting is evident in both articles as is her personal agenda. Her story is riddled with untruths and exaggerations sensationalizing the work that the CACC does. She has used unnamed sources and made serious false allegations without giving the CACC an opportunity to respond.
Hess' article claims New York has one of the poorest shelter systems in the country. The fact is the CACC has one of the largest adoption programs in the country and one of the lowers euthanasia rates per capita nationally. CACC has a preventative medicine program that rivals shelters everywhere and a cruelty evaluation program that is receiving the recognition it justly deserves. The CACC's primary interest is improving the health and well-being of all shelter animals.
Hess erroneously claims the CACC does "virtually nothing" to promote adoptions. The CACC advertises in the [New York] Daily News, Staten Island Advance, all NYC Yellow Pages, New York Press, New York Spirit, and on sanitation trucks. In addition, the CACC is featured on Microsoft's Sidewalk.Com. The CACC is also featured in 'Pet of the Week' columns in the Daily News, the Post, Staten Island Advance and NY Press.
Hess claims conditions at the shelter are substandard and that sick animals go untreated. Yet the CACC is one of the few animal shelters in New York State that has veterinarians on staff and licensed veterinary technicians to provide care to the animals. Like other shelters around the country, the CACC's kennels are fully cleaned and disinfected once a day and spot cleaned throughout the day. Moreover, Hess' claim that CACC's night shift is only staffed by 1-2 employees is untrue. CACC routinely has a staff of 3-4 employees overnight, including a licensed veterinary technician.
Much of Hess's article relies on allegations of ex-employees who were fired --for cause-- and have obvious agendas of their own. One of the more outlandish allegation is by an ex-employee who was terminated because, according to Hess, he took a puppy home to bottle-feed it for a few days. What Hess fails to report is that this employee was attempting to steal the dog and had forged a police officer's signature in an attempt to cover up the theft.
I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this with you further in hope of correcting the damage that has been done by this sensationalistic article. I enclose as well my response to the editor of New York Magazine which further clarifies the misrepresentations reported by Ms. Hess.
Very truly yours,
Posted response of Gary Kaskel, SRAC co-chair
from: Gary Kaskel
Re: NYC's Center for Animal Care and Control
Marilyn Haggerty-Blohm's whining about the "lynching" she and her outlaw charitable corporation (a 501(c)3 whose board members can be hired and fired by the Mayor) is as credible as calling her boss, Rudy Giuliani, "warm and fuzzy."
The Shelter Reform Action Commitee <http://users.infohouse.com/srac> has closely followed the CACC since it was formed by the NYC Corporation Counsel behind the backs of the public (no public hearings, closed loop contract with the NYC Health Dept.)
I can personally attest to Mrs. Blohm's lack of veracity. Over and over again she has lied to us (she was hired four days after we received a freedom of information documents request proving that she lied about her daily work schedule). She has a snappy rejoinder for every criticism. Unfortunately, 99% of her spin doctoring is just that.
She is a career bureaucrat who was hired because she's a good little foot soldier for one of the most arrogant politicians today - Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani - who has no respect for the people he serves. Giuliani insults animal advocates with "put downs" like, "why are you worrying about adopting animals; why don't you worry about adopting children?" As if one has anything to do with the other.
Bottom line: NYC killed more than 40,000 animals last year and funds its animal shelters at half the national average (and less than half of the HSUS's recommended levels). Marilyn Haggerty-Blohm should spare her rhetorical complaints and tell her darling Mayor he's short-shrifting shelter animals at a disgraceful rate.
-Gary Kaskel, co-chair, SRAC