THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES
The Humane Society of the United States
2100 L Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is the nation's largest animal-protection organization, with more than six million constituents. The HSUS was founded in 1954 to promote the humane treatment of animals and to foster respect, understanding, and compassion for all creatures. Today our message of care and protection embraces not only the animal kingdom but also the Earth and its environment. To achieve our goals, The HSUS works through legal educational, legislative, and investigative means. The HSUS's efforts in the United States are facilitated by our regional offices; we are not, however, affiliated with any local animal shelters or humane organizations. Our programs include those in humane education, wildlife and habitat protection, farm animals and bioethics, companion animals, and animal research issues. The HSUS's worldwide outreach is supported by our global family of affiliated organizations.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART ONE: EVALUATION TEAM REPORT
I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
B. General Scope and Methodology
C. Special Considerations
III. MANAGEMENT, GOVERNANCE, AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS
A. Management Staff
B. Key Issues
a. Identification & Articulation of an Animal Control Vision
b. Corporate Structure
c. Infrastructure & Support Systems
1. Performance Management and Accountability
2. Operating Policies, Procedures and Training
3. Compensation and Benefits System
4. Risk Management
d. Definition and Recognition for CACC's Role in the Community
1. Media Relations and Community Education
3. Community Partners
IV. GENERAL DEMOGRAPHICS/SERVICES
B. General Animal Sheltering Services
C. Facility Location/Directional Signage
V. SHELTER INTERIOR DESIGN/LAYOUT
A. Shelter Renovations
C. Handicapped Access
D. Internal Directional Signage
E. General Safety Issues
F. Emergency Planning
G. Facilities Maintenance
VI. GENERAL SHELTER OPERATIONS
A. Hours of Operation
B. Computer Systems and Support
C. General Recordkeeping/Statistics
D. Incoming Animal Identification
E. Animal Examinations
F. Animal Assessment and Status
VII. ANIMAL HOUSING AND HUSBANDRY
A. Dog and Cat Housing
D. Sound Levels
E. Feeding/Food Storage
G. Two-tiered Caging for Dangerous Dogs
H. Dangerous Dog Holding/Department of Health Cases
I. Rabies Testing Procedures
J. General Disease Control/Traffic Flow
K. Behavioral Status Evaluations
L. General Shelter Medicine
M. Staffing and Training for Animal Care Specialists
N. NYPD Chemical Immobilization/Transportation of Dangerous Dogs
VIII. WILDLIFE AND EXOTICS
A. Wildlife Care and Handling
B. Exotic Care and Handling
A. Methods and Techniques
B. Euthanasia Room/Environment
C. Euthanasia Technicians
D. Selection Criteria
B. Current Status
D. The Adoption Process
E. Adoption Partners
F. CACC Adoption Centers
G. Sterilization at Adoption Programs
Xll. FIELD SERVICES/ANIMAL CONTROL
A. General Overview
C. After-hours Procedures
D. Special Patrolmen Status
E. Job Descriptions/Procedures Manuals
F. Field Services Training
G. Enforcement Procedures
H. Forms and Recordkeeping
A. Department of Health-City of New York
B. State Legislation
C. Additional HSUS Recommendations Relating to Legislation
XIV. BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS
PART TWO: APPENDICES/RESOURCES [omitted]
In June 1998, at the request of the Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC), The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the nations largest animal protection organization, sent a team of animal care and control experts to perform a comprehensive evaluation of CACC's programs and services.
The issues that CACC face are not unique to other animal control agencies in the United States except in magnitude. For such a large organization, however, we were impressed to witness many staff members interacting more like family than co-workers. While we did not meet every member of the staff, those we were fortunate to spend time with all demonstrated a genuine desire to best serve the animals in their care. It is a chaotic job, especially at an organization in its infancy. Our desire was to help evaluate this chaos, in hopes of allowing the staff to use their time more effectively, and make their jobs less frustrating.
The CACC is one of the largest sheltering agencies in the United States, providing the only full-service animal care and control programs for New York City. On average, the CACC facilities receive approximately 150 stray and unwanted animals per day, which is the equivalent of 20% of its total housing capacity.
The CACC is still in the transition from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) withdrawal of services. Old ASPCA employees must work in familiar surroundings under new protocol, to serve a different purpose. Additionally, new CACC employees must stake out new territory on old turf. Several individuals discussed frustration over inherited problems and schools of thought.
The lack of clear directional tools such as standard operating procedures, a current organizational chart, and a working staff list is a current weakness that warrants mention. A clear consensus could not be reached as to the existence or usefulness of these documents, which also attests to some confusion surrounding basic organizational structure. It was clear that while the Executive Director is committed to the development of these documents, upper level management had varying opinions as to the effectiveness and practicality of the CACC's current operational policies and procedures. This disagreement permeated the line of command and was evident at all levels.
From our brief period of observation, it became clear that the CACC seems to be caught between having too many leaders at one moment and not enough at another. In a worst case scenario, when this overlap is combined with differing philosophies, priorities, and frames of reference, the subordinate staff levels can become easily confused as to who and what to listen to. By the time the line staff and union personnel become involved, if at all, intention and clarity have been almost completely diffused. The result is a line staff that is doing one job several different ways with little conception of why. In the meantime, certain higher levels are operating under the assumption that orders are being carried out properly and without confusion. This seems to be viewed as a normal result of the daily chaos and not, as it should be, the cause of it.
Nonetheless, the upper level staff is an intense, hardworking group. They demonstrated a sincere commitment to the success of the CACC, and appear to recognize the CACC's significance and accept their role within that significance. They are acutely aware of the severe criticism and scrutiny which their organization has suffered since its inception, and it is clear that they work increasingly hard to compensate for the past, as well as succeed in the future.
The same awareness of the CACC's reputation did not seem to affect lower levels of the staff in the same way, suggesting that they are either not aware of it or do not understand its significance. In either case, it is likely they have no context to explain the constant flux of changes which are presented to them. It seems fair to recognize that human nature resists change, especially when it does not seem either necessary or explicable. Also, following down the ranks, it is reasonable to assume each level has less and less invested in the job, becoming more and more frustrated by chances, especially those which seem to be extra work. Because of the great possibility of this type of dynamic at work, open communication within a clearly defined operational framework is essential.
Confusion over roles of responsibility and lines of command may be largely attributable to the fact that they have changed so drastically, and there is much hope that the current staff arrangements will have a chance to develop and stabilize. Upper level management must have clear duties, be comfortable with their roles, and must be willing to relinquish control over that which is not their responsibility. This will require the faith of each in the next level of management, and greater effort should be placed on training all levels of staff to be self sufficient within their positions.
On a broader scope, the organization itself was formed in haste to fill a not-clearly articulated need. In its brief history, CACC has repeatedly tried to change or define fragments of its program solely in response to public criticism. The result, however, is an organization that was formed specifically for the purpose of providing animal care and control services for the City, yet is still lacking in the authority, key programs, and institutional focus central to an effective animal care and control agency.
National animal care and control experts suggest that in order to provide responsible animal care and control services, communities need a minimum of one field staff person for every 16,000 persons. Yet, the CACC has only eight staff persons to serve a human population of 7.3 million; equivalent to only one field staff person per just under one million residents of New York City. In addition, CACC currently has limited authority to enforce existing animal care and control laws.
The most common obstacle to establishing an effective animal care and control program -- as it is to some degree for virtually all governmental programs -- is the problem of funding and resources. Yet providing for animal care and control services adequately is an investment in reduced costs for the future.
It is not surprising, however, that CACC's focus -- even as leadership strives to make important improvements -- has been on increasing adoptions rather than developing an animal care and control model. Like many shelters across the country, CACC is under constant pressure to increase adoptions and "decrease the killing." Too often, the perceived success or failure of animal care and control programs are wrongly defined by euthanasia figures alone. As a result, runaway stereotypes are prevalent, portraying local agencies as "animal death camps run by callous uncaring staff." And because the public only sees a rough sketch instead of the full picture, many animal care and control agencies throughout the country are feeling pressured to focusing their energies on stopping euthanasia today, and solving the problems necessitating euthanasia tomorrow.
Yet, the goal must not be simply to end euthanasia, but instead to end the need for it. Adoption programs, while potentially effective in reducing euthanasia on an immediate basis, have little impact on the sources of the homeless pet problem and therefore on reducing the need for euthanasia in the long-term. Euthanasia is not a solution to the pet overpopulation, but rather, a tragic result of it.
The burden of responsibility must be shared by all members of the community; to blame the CACC for pet overpopulation is akin to blaming the American Cancer Society for high rates of cancer in New York City. Nonetheless, a small group of animal activists continue to be critical of CACC and to exploit any reports of problems that occur. As a result, some members of the media (and therefore the public) know the organization only through the eyes of its critics. Yet, The HSUS found individuals at all levels of management to be sincerely concerned about the welfare of the animals-both within the shelters and throughout the community. We encountered none of the callousness or indifference that characterized reports from the press and organizational critics. Rather, we found the majority of individuals were dedicated and committed to improving proving CACC's ability to function more humanely and efficiently, and were eager to have the opportunity to more effectively address animal problems within the community.
CACC is the only agency in the city that is there for every animal, especially for those in the greatest need. The problems identified in this evaluation appear to derive not from a lack of desire to do the right thing as much as the lack of awareness of, resources for, or individual staff know-how, concerning the areas discussed. The HSUS places its full confidence in the newly appointed Executive Director of the CACC, Marilyn Haggerty-Blohm, who has already done much to greatly improve public support for her agency. Under her leadership, we expect these existing problems to be resolved to the satisfaction of the people of the city of New York and the animals entrusted to the agency's care.
It is important to note that all of the CACC's efforts to improve programs and operations are doomed to failure if public perception of agency services are negative and disparaging. Public support and education is crucial for long term improvements, and open-mindedness, honesty, support, and cooperation are key to working together constructively instead of destructively. With that in mind, The HSUS strongly urges the citizens of New York City to support the Center for Animal Care and Control in their efforts to best fulfill the agency's mission.
Approximately four years ago, the Arnerican Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) chose to end its contractual relationship to perform animal control functions within the City of New York, NY.
The HSUS has long held an interest in assisting the City of New York with responsible animal care and control provisions. In February, 1994, the City of New York's Department of Health requested our expertise in assisting with the transition of animal control services from the ASPCA to the City. Our office provided insight and expertise relating to key problem areas, potential scope of services, and contractual bidders.
The City, however, did not receive any capable external bids for services following the transfer of animal control services to the City. As a result, New York City's Center for Animal Care and Control (hereafter referred to as CACC) was formed and incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. Effective January 1, 1995, CACC was established specifically for the:
"public and charitable purposes of providing animal care and control services in The City of New York ("the city"), thereby lessening the burdens of governrnent on behalf of the City, and acting in the public interest and carrying out the essential public functions that relate to animal care and control, the prevention and control of zoonotic disease which may be transmissible to humans, and the control of vicious or dangerous animals."/1
FN1/ Certificate of Incorporation, Center for Animal Care and Control
The CACC was formed in haste to fill a pressing need for services within the City, following the ASPCA's withdrawal. Since its inception, CACC has lacked clear definition and direction and has experienced many obstacles associated with the frantic transition. During its brief history, CACC has suffered from several changes in leadership and a multitude of inherited facility and operational problems. However, it is important to note that within the past year, increased optimism is evident within the staff of CACC, that is now reflected by many members of the community. The CACC does continue to suffer from growing pains, but importantly remains committed to growth nonetheless.
In October, 1997, the Center for Animal Care and Control initiated a plan to review and improve its adoption program. To meet that goal, CACC requested proposals from interested parties to assist in this effort and offer objective recommendations for strengthening this program. The HSUS submitted a proposal to evaluate the CACC programs in late October, 1997, however, The HSUS did not limit the scope of the evaluation to CACC's adoption programs. Instead, the HSUS believed strongly that a comprehensive evaluation of all of CACC's sheltering related services, programs and operations would be necessary.
For example, The HSUS strongly believes that the success or failure of a shelters's adoption program hinges directly on many, if not all, aspects of sheltering services. To responsibly evaluate current adoption procedures, one must look at many areas including, but certainly not limited to, facility accessability, traffic flow (both animal and human), animal care and handling, veterinary care procedures, facility structure, employee morale, public perception, and the organization's overall goals and responsibilities.
In January, 1998, the CACC requested the services of The HSUS to perform a comprehensive evaluation. The HSUS was pleased to offer assistance through an objective look at programs and services, and to provide recommendations relating to future growth, vision, and d*ection.
General Scope and Medthodology
A site visit of the CACC's five shelters was conducted June 13-16, 1998. The HSUS Evaluation Team (E-Team) consisted of a total of six consultants with expertise in various areas of operation, services, and management. During their site visit, the evaluators interviewed a wide range of individuals, from city of ficials to board members, and upper management to kennel technicians. In addition, a private meeting was held with various community animal-related groups. The HSUS has reviewed the methods by which the City currently handles animal care and control issues, including (but not limited to) stray and owned animal handling, animal and human health issues, bite cases, adoptions, redemptions, euthanasia, public education, investigations, ordinances and enforcement efforts, overpopulation issues, and relationships with local animal welfare groups. We have also reviewed and evaluated the actual facilities as well as information regarding the geographics, demographics, and budgetary considerations of animal care and control programs.
The following report includes both our assessment of the various aspects of this evaluation, specific recommendations (both immediate and long term) and suggestions for future improvements in animal care and control services.
As part of our comprehensive evaluation, The HSUS requested extensive background documentation from the Center for Animal Care and Control. Materials were provided and have been thoroughly reviewed and considered by HSUS Evaluation Team members. In addition, rather extensive background documentation was gathered through Internet and World Wide Web searches, demographic research, and various animal-related organizations within the same area. Additionally, an opportunity for written comments from the public was provided and many submissions were received from interested individuals and groups. These, too, have been carefully taken into consideration.
Every effort was made to keep all costs associated with this evaluation at a minimum. It should be noted that while a total of six HSUS consultants were used for the on-site portion of this evaluation, the actual site visit was limited to only four days. Given that there are five shelters operated by CACC, several of which are under construction or scheduled for renovation, an in-depth facility review was virtually impossible.
While a great deal of information was gathered during facility tours and staff interviews, the ability of the evaluators to thoroughly review ALL policies and procedures as well as to thoroughly interview all staff members was obviously limited by time and financial constraints. It is important to note that any review of this type has limitations in its ability to fully reflect both the strengths and weakness of an organization and some of the underlying causes. With that in mind, The HSUS respectfully submits the following evaluation.
MANAGEMENT, GOVERNANCE AND COMMUNITY RELATlONS
In order to identify key management, governance and community relations issues at the CACC, HSUS team members met with: one member of the Board of Directors, the Executive Director, Director of Operations, Chief Veterinarian, Director of Adoption and Volunteer Services, General Counsel, Human Resources Director, Controller, two shelter directors and a group of citizen activists. In addition, direct observations, written materials and relevant inforrnation gathered from staff and members of the public were reviewed for consistency with the perspectives provided by management.
As individuals, each of the members of the management team appeared to possess specific skills and/or experience relevant to their respective roles. Although very new to her position (and animal protection work), the Executive Director was surprisingly knowledgeable about details of operations and procedure, and was extremely open as to what she perceived to be the organization's shortcomings as well as its strengths. She also portrayed a sincere commitment to improving the quality of care and programming provided by CACC, and relayed a number of plans as well as accomplishments in her efforts to achieve this goal. Not the least among the accomplishments was the commitment of over $1 million in new operating funds and approximately $8 million in capital improvement funds from the city.
Members of the management staff as well as some of the organization's critics commented on their increased optimism since the new Executive Director has arrived, citing her connections in City Hall and her ability to get things accomplished as key to the organization's progress at this point in their development. Staff in particular offered strong support for the "fit" of the new director's skills and background with the organization's needs.
It is important to note that although they differed in their abilities and perspectives on the agency's objectives, individuals at all levels of management appeared to be sincerely concerned about the welfare of the animals both within their shelters and throughout the community. We encountered none of the callousness or indifference that characterized reports from the press and organizational critics. Rather, we found the majority of individuals we met were committed to improving CACC's ability to function more humanely and efficiently, and were eager to have the opportunity to more effectively address animal problems within the community. The problems we identify in this report appear to derive not from a lack of desire to do the right thing as much as the lack of awareness of, resources for, or individual staff know-how conceming the areas discussed.
Specific leadership and management issues identified can be grouped under four key areas: (A) identification and internal articulation of a unifying, animal-control-focused vision for the organization and its programs; (B) the role and implications of CACC's corporate structure; (C) organizational infrastructure and support systems; and (D) definition of and recognition for CACC's role within the community.
A. Identification and Articulation of an Animal Control Vision
Although some time has been spent in the development of a mission statement for CACC, the organization still lacks a clear, complete and organizationally accepted understanding of who it is and what role it is-or should be-playing within the community. This is not surprising, given the fact that the organization was formed in haste, to fill a not clearly-articulated need, and in its brief history has tried to change or define fragments of its program solely in response to public criticism. The result, however, is an organization that was formed specifically for the purpose of providing animal control services for the citizens of New York City, yet is lacking in the authority, key programs, and institutional focus central to an effective animal control agency.
Specific conditions that illustrate this problem are discussed in detail in other portions of this report, but they include :
- No authority to enforce animal control laws (until recently, when the option was made available for field staff to train for "special patrolman" status, still with only limited enforcement authority).
- Field services provided on the extremely limited schedule of 8 AM to 8 PM, Monday through Friday, and with below minimum staffing level for a city the size of NYC, even during these hours of operations.
- A complex bite/quarantine response system administered by the Department of Health (DoH) but with severe implications for CACC, and no authority on CACC's part to make decisions conceming health departrnent animals.
- No programs to promote licensing/identification, leash laws, rabies prevention and/or keeping pets safe and under control as key elements to both effective animal control and controlling the surplus pet problem.
- Operation of an ineffective dog licensing program by the City, apart from CACC, and no program for registering cats.
- No authority to enforce anti-cruelty statutes, nor to regulate or charge for the ASPCA's use of their facility for long-term holding of animals seized in cruelty
- Transfer-laden stray holding programs that make it difficult for an owner to determine where his/her lost pet may be, and a cumbersome paper based lost & found program that is reportedly inconsistent in its success from shelter to shelter.
- No requirement that strays arriving at other non-CACC facilities be transferred to or registered with CACC, with the result that owners of lost pets have no central dearing house to begin their search, and there is no method for oversight of stray holding or owner accountability at the various private facilities.
- An institutional emphasis on adoption, with relatively little focus on identification, redemption and owner-accountability programs, even though the majority of animals entering most animal control facilities are strays who potentially have owners looking for them. Management staff appeared to be unaware of the potential that a successfill identification and retum-to owner effort has for reducing shelter housing needs (i.e. properly identified animals can be returned to their homes without ever entering the shelter, and those who do come to the shelter will stay for shorter periods if the owner can be quickly notified). There also appeared to be a lack of recognition for the substantive impact that a high retum-to owner rate can have on reducing euthanasia (i.e. animals who have homes and can be retumed to them reduce the numbers competing for new homes and therefore the numbers who ultimately lose this competition and are euthanized) or the role that identification programs play in promoting responsibility and accountability.
- Key management staff members who lack working knowledge of animal control ordinances, including the laws that enable them to pick up, hold, and release animals and under what circumstances. They often are aware of a policy or procedure that dictates what they can do, but could not explain to us the underlying laws upon which the policy or procedure was initially developed. This makes it difficult for managers or supervisors to educate the public (or staff) about why CACC does what it does, much less deal with situations that call for exceptions or know how and when policies or procedures might be changed without legal implications.
- A police department that has assumed much of the responsibility for responding to dangerous animal situations, with CACC only becoming involved after the animal has been chemically captured with immobilization equipment, muzzled and transported (generally in the trunk of a police vehicle) to a CACC shelter, often without the information necessary to accurately disposition the animal.
Unfortunately, however, even the existing priorities of improving facilities and expanding adoptions-much less the director's more long range plans-have not been articulated in a written plan, and are neither fully understood nor embraced throughout the organization. Newly hired adoptions staff members find themselves in conflict with other departments over their roles and responsibilities. And, although most everyone was aware that renovation was taking place in Brooklyn and planned for Manhattan, few members of staff -- including senior managers -- appeared fully aware of what is planned for the new facilities or why they are being designed as they are.
Throughout our visit we were unable to obtain any comprehensive written documents that outlined what was planned for the buildings or the expanded operations that will take place within them. Some managers were still expressing a preference for moving the Manhattan shelter rather than renovating, implying that they believed that decisions about some very basic issues had yet to be resolved.
"Wish lists" reported to us by individual managers generally focused on big-picture concems, but were all over the map and not necessarily consistent with the priorities articulated by the Executive Director. And, although several people agreed that twenty four hour "rescue" service and expanded enforcement authority for cruelty cases should be priorities, none appeared to place a priority on (or even fully understand) other programs and activities that are central to effective animal control.
This lack of a vision consistent with CACC's animal control mandate, as well as the absence of a written plan that details what they are trying to accomplish, have left staff confused as to where to focus their energies. In addition, without a known plan, decisions conceming acquisition and spending of new funds appear arbitrary and disconnected. And, staff who are unaware of what the goals and objectives are will derive less satisfaction or sense of accomplishment once these goals/objectives are ultimately achieved.
Perhaps most importantly, the lack of a clear vision for CACC as a comprehensive animal control program makes the agency "just another sheltering and adoption group." If this is to be CACC's role, the organization will fall short of the mission dictated by its charter. Furthermore, it will leave the nation's largest city without an agency that understands and demonstrates the important role that quality animal control can play in improving and supporting the "quality of life" of both the animals and people of the community.
1. lf CACC is to meet the terms of its charter as an agency formed to provide the City of New York with quality animal control services, it is critical that the leadership develop a vision that defines the organization in these terms, and include among its programs those that are central to effective animal control. Key among these are field enforcement of animal control laws; rabies prevention programs; response to and control of aggressive animals; animal licensing and/or registration programs; field rescue of sick and injured animals or animals at risk; pick up and housing of lost or stray pets, with the intent of identifying their owners and safely reuniting them; promotion of animal population control; and education of the public on the elements of and rationale for responsible pet ownership.
It is not surprising that CACC's focus -- even as the leadership strives to make important improvements -- has attempted to follow more of a aholding and adoption center" and less of an animal control model. Reports from staffwho were working in the field prior to the formation of CACC suggest that animal control in NYC historically has been reactive, simply picking up the community's cast offs and attempting to find some of them new homes. The current sheltering programs of the other private agencies in the community continue to follow this model, and even further restrict their roles by handling only selected groups of animals for adoption.
It is important to note that adoption programs, while potentially effective in reducing euthanasia on an immediate basis, have little impact on the sources of the homeless pet problem and therefore on reducing the need for euthanasia in the long-term. Even critics of CACC have focused primarily on issues of care, adoption and public access, not the organization's wider program responsibilities as an animal control organization.
The preventative programs that exist at CACC (and throughout much of the NYC animal protection community), are focused primarily on promotion of spaying and neutering, which -- while an effective tool -- addresses only one source of the homeless pet problem. CACC, in its role as the animal control contractor for the city, has a unique opportunity as well as a mandate to utilize animal control ordinances and their enforcement as tools in promoting not only animal birth control, but also responsible pet ownership on a broader scale.
Pets kept safely at home -- whether they are sterilized or not-seldom produce the accidental litters that form the bulk of incoming puppies and kittens in shelters. Animals belonging to owners who obey leash laws seldom end up in shelters, much less causing accidents, biting strangers, getting in fights, or randomly breeding. And, licensed pets can be easily returned home if they do escape, and their owners can be located and held accountable if they cause damage, get in fights, etc.
Both The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the National Animal Control Association (NACA) provide guidelines on the key elements essential to effective animal control programs, and are available to serve as valuable resource to the CACC Board and Senior Staff. In addition, a number of communities across the country now operate model animal control programs that not only contain the essential elements, but have developed into comprehensive animal resources for their communities and/or agents for community change. We highly recommend that the CACC leadership visit one or more of these agencies to learn more about the kinds of programs offered, how they are evaluated, and the effects they have achieved. The HSUS would be pleased to recommend specific agencies to visit.
It is important to note that the timing on this discussion of vision is critical. Plans for new construction will impact the organization's operations for years into the future, and therefore need to take into account potential programs and image, both in the design of the structures and in their placement within the five boroughs. With construction partially completed in Brooklyn, few options for substantive changes remain in that facility. And with Manhattan plans moving quickly toward completion and funds for a new Queens facility at least partially in place, time for changes is all but passed in the former and running short for the latter.
2. Once the organization's mission has been revisited and a vision developed that articulates this in terms of comprehensive animal control, the CACC Board and senior management need to work together to develop a written plan for achieving the vision. This plan should identify specific long term goals and more immediate objectives, include a target timetable for operating objectives as well as capital improvements, and outline a system for sharing the overall plan with the staff as a whole.
Plans developed unilaterally, although often perceived as more efficient by busy staff or board members, fail to benefit from the tremendous value of the planning process, itself. Two of the reoccurring problems identified by HSUS E-Team members during their visit at CACC were: (1) a gap between plans, decisions or ideas of the Executive Director or senior management and their implementation at the operational level and (2) conflicting responses among senior staff members concerning plans, policies, decisions, rationales, etc. These issues will be dealt with in greater detail later in the report. However, the process of working together to iron out details of a plan -- from the long-term goals to prioritizing immediate operating objectives -- can do much to alleviate the apparent confusion we witnessed. Well-structured planning sessions serve to surface and resoive disagreements, and to build a common understanding of the issues, the rationale for why decisions were made (as well as the decisions themselves), and agreement as to what is to be done by when and by whom.
Committing the resulting plans to writing provides a document that can be used to share the details with others (ranging from board and staff members to potential donors) and a reminder of decisions down the road, when minds are blurred by the pressures of day to day activity. It also serves as a basis for reviewing progress, setting operational priorities, making decisions concerning allocation of unanticipated funds, reviewing individual and institutional performance, etc Most of all it serves as a short cut to keeping everyone "on the same page" about where the organization is going and some of the steps that will take you there. The document needn't be long or formal, or for that matter follow any specific format for "long range planning." The important point is to commit key ideas, goals and objectives to writing, in a document that all agree reflects the decisions and outcomes of group discussions.
Finally, committing plans to writing may help alleviate some of the concems of critics (or at least to counter them), who will at least have a better understanding of the organization's intentions, if not the faith that these goals will be achieved.
B. Corporate Structure
When CACC was incorporated in 1994, it was established as a not-for profit corporation under New York State law. However, unlike most nonprofits, it was formed not by a group of concemed citizens, but rather by the City of New York, in an effort to continue to keep the animal control function outside the city bureaucracy. After the ASPCA withdrew as the historical contractor and the city's request for proposals failed to turn up a viable new candidate, CACC was incorporated to fill the void.
Since the city's contract initially would provide the sole source of funding for the new organization, city officials established a corporate structure for CACC that gave total control to the Mayor's office and his designees. Under the articles of incorporation, the organization has only the limited mandate to provide animal control services, and the organizational bylaws call for five directors, three of which are city officials and the other two of which are to be appointed by the Mayor or his Deputy Mayor for Operations. Voting structure is by majority when a quorum is present, and set up so that certain actions require the majority of the three "Ex Officio" directors (the seats held by city department heads) and they -- by bylaw -- must act in the interest of the City. The "Appointed Directors" may be removed at any time, with or without cause, by the Mayor or his Deputy Mayor, and this authority has been exercised already with the removal of two initial appointees. Although the bylaws contain a prohibition on conflict of interest, they specifically exempt status as a city employee from the definition and terms of the conflict of interest clause.
The resulting structure is a supposedly independent not-for-profit organization that is structured in a hybridized fashion and functions more as a department of city government working under an appointed political commission.
There are admittedly benefits to the current structure in terms of expediency and in-kind support. At present, the city provides utilities and telephone service at no cost to CACC (these expenses do not even appear in CACC's budget), gives the organization access to the city's surplus offlce equipment, and provides and maintains (as well as maintaining ownership ofl all of the organization's hard assets. The tie-in with the city also opens up access to certain city services and opportunities, particularly through board members and the Executive Director who are familiar with the ins and outs of city government, and knowledgeable concerning the who's who of the administration.
While the desire of the Mayor's office to maintain oversight of an agency operating almost solely on city funds is understandable, and the current structure's benefits to the organization are not insubstantial, the risks and downsides of the arrangement are reason for major concerns. Questions have been raised as to the legality of this relationship and the organization's corporate structure. However, in addition to any legal issues, the present structure is at best, confusing to the public and at worst, fraught with accountability issues and identity problems.
Some of our specific concerns include:
- The controlling role of city employees -- particularly the representative of the health department (the agency directly responsible for the CACC contract) -- and the bylaws-directed ability of the Mayor to control who sits on the board, create concerns regarding CACC's ability to bargain as an independent agency with the city.
- Funding, policymaking and decision making are subject to undue influence from City Hall, which although supportive of the current Executive Director, may change drastically with a change in the political climate or the occupant of the Mayor's office.
- The appearance of being a city agency sets up public expectations for a level of and approach to services that are neither fulfilled nor necessarily realistic or appropriate.
- The appearance of being a city agency and the lack of independence as a non profit negatively impact fundraising from private sources
-Foundations and corporations may be disinclined to make major gifts to an institution with no clear accountability and the potential to be redirected by the city.
- Current board appointees reportedly function in a figurehead role rather than becoming actively involved in govemance, fundraising, etc. This leaves the organization almost exclusively in the hands of the Executive Director, with neither support for her efforts nor demands for accountability provided by the individuals charged with statutory responsibility for the non-profit.
- The lack of autonomy and confusing role make the agency an easy target for critics, and hinder its ability to function as "a player" within the diverse animal protection community. Since it is unclear to whom the agency is accountable, everyone feels that it is accountable to them. The ASPCA, North Shore Animal League (NSAL), DoH, NYPD, Department of Environmental Health and grassroots activists all have expectations of or make demands upon the agency -- often with tremendous consequences for CACC. Without a clear mandate or responsible goveming body, the agency is at a severe disadvantage to respond from a position of strength or with a logical rationale for the demands/expectations are or are not consistent with its purpose or programs.
- The perception of the organization as a city agency has raised expectations that board meetings must be open and records subject to the Freedom of Information Laws. Although some forum for public accountability is valid even in a totally private not-for-profit organization, the nature of fully open meetings, particularly when there is a tone of hostility among members of the audience, is to suppress open discussion among volunteer board members who tend either to want to appease the audience or remain quiet in fear of personal attacks. Open meetings may also have a chilling effect on strategic planning around sensitive areas such as contract negotiations and or legislative advocacy, where the agency may be handicapped if the opposition has access to their strategy.
- The close association with the Mayor's office and the city administration, combined with the narrowly controlled accountability of the board, puts the organization "in the middle" of conflicts between the Mayor and the City Council.
1. The leadership of CACC should decide whether it is in the organization's best interest to operate as a part of the New York City government or as a truly private, not for profit agency that contracts with the city to provide specific services. The Board of Directors should then take steps to restructure the organization's governance to be consistent with its definition. This decision should be made as soon as possible and a timetable established to complete the transition and/or replace the articles of current bylaws.
John Carver, in his book Boards that Make a Difference, defines the role of the nonprofit board of directors as one of "moral ownership", trustees of the organizations purpose/mission, who "must bear initial responsibility for the integrity of governance." He goes on to say that a board "is responsible for its own development1 its own job design, its own discipline and its own performance." According to Carver, in the case of "organizations that receive government and foundation grants, it is important that the grantor not be seen as owner."/2
FN2/ Carver, John. Boards that Make A Difference: A New Design for Leadership in Nonprofit and Public Organizations. San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 1990.
This position, which is echoed by a number of authors writing on nonprofit governance, is the opposite of the situation at CACC, where the primary grantor (the City of New York), maintains total control of the board. From a strictly practical perspective, The HSUS believes that the organization cannot function most effectively in this dual role, and it is incumbent on the Board of Directors to determine which format it should pursue.
All indications point to a desire on the part of both the CACC staff and city administration to remain in the direction of a private nonprofit. In the City's 1994 Preliminary Strategic Policy Statement, the Department of City Planning states
"Privatization in general is an increasing consideration for managers of local government in the United States. In an effort to increase governmental efficiency and effectiveness, this trend has proven useful in many facets of governmental service. In addition, New York City is not alone in recognizing a competitive edge that can be found within the concept of privatization. "Greater productivity will also result from initiatives to privatize services such as park and vehicle maintenance. In some instances, private firms will provide services at a lower cost. Greater governrnent efficiency will also result when city workers realize they must compete with the private sector." /3
FN3/ NYC Depatnnent of City Planning, Preliminary Strategic Policy Statement, 1994.
However, if the decision is to remain as a private, nonprofit agency, the by-laws should follow common principles of non-profit governance, including provisions for the selection of independent directors whose first obligation is to the organization, the establishment of terms of office, and the true avoidance of conflict of interest on the part of board members and officers. Board members should be knowledgeable about their legal obligations to and for the corporation; accept responsibility for governance, policy setting and soliciting support for the organization; and establish procedures for oversight and accountability of the staff. In addition, we recommend that a vehicle be developed to allow for input to the board from the public and/or various constituency groups.
The National Center for Nonprofit Boards, the National Charities Information Board, and a number of other agencies provide guidelines on the structure and accountability of not-for-profit boards of directors, and countless books have been written on the topic. We recommend that these resources -- in conjunction with New York State nonprofit corporation code and IRS regulations-be used if redrafting of the CACC bylaws to create a truly private nonprofit organization.
The HSUS recognizes that such a shift -- to either a city agency with public accountability or a truly private agency with accountability through its board of directors -- may not be possible on an overnight basis. However, we believe that it is imperative that the current CACC Board of Directors and the city commit to making these changes, and set a date by which the transition is to be accomplished. Given the potential for shifts in the political climate with changes in the Mayor's office, the shift should be accomplished before the next mayoral election.
C. Infrastructure & Support Systems
The analogy that comes to mind for CACC's infrastructure is the proverbial house built on sand...with rotting timbers. CACC has had neither the luxury of growing slowly into a large, complex organization nor the benefit of taking over an existing agency with a solid operating structure in place. Instead, it began its existence by inheriting portions of an already complex program that were operating on less than full staffing, with no or out dated policies and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), no timed or well thought out transition plan, and often burned out or resentful employees who weren't sure exactly what was happening.
A review of earlier reports suggests that relatively little was done to shore-up or rebuild the infrastructure during the organization's first three years of operation, and in some instances, circumstances worsened. (It is noteworthy that -- with a few important exceptions -- the vast majority of complaints against CACC from the activists with whom we met and the individuals who provided written comment, stem from incidents that occurred during the previous administration.) A policy manual detailing internal controls (of finances) was adopted in May of 1996. And a staff manual detailing personnel policies and benefits, prepared more recently, is currently provided for every new employee (although it is reportedly a document drafted for and used primarily by bargaining unit employees).
An old ASPCA procedures manual still stands as the official operations document. However, many of the staff are unaware that it exists, and others report that it is too out of-date to be effective. The organization has (1) no written safety plan; (2) no up-to-date job descriptions; (3) a confusing organizational flow chart; (4) no structured training program; (5) no structured performance management system (with the exception of a yearly checkoff style performance review for union employees); (6) no structured compensation system; and (7) no operational planning, objective setting process or written standards that establish accountability for departments or managers.
The Executive Director and her administrative staff appear very aware of the need for an effective infrastructure and are reportedly attempting to address the problem. Discussions have begun to involve the senior managers in the development of new SOPs. The Human Resources Manager has been assigned the task of developing job descriptions, improving the performance management and training programs, etc. And, a safety consultant was brought in to review the organization for OSHA compliance and make recommendations.
Unfortunately, however, developing new systems, policies, procedures and documentation for an organization that is already operating at full steam with only minimum administrative staffing is a daunting task, and not much has been accomplished to date. In addition, institution-wide communication, which is at best difficult in a multi-facility organization with 24-hour-per day, 7-day-a-week staffing, reportedly breaks down often, leaving the organization vulnerable to more than its fair share of mistakes and oversights. Senior managers -- who appear to be the primary decision-makers in the shelters in spite of the reported role of the shelter directors -- sometimes appeared confused or in conflict as to plans, policies, and most importantly who is responsible for what.