When the ASPCA announced that it would not be renewing its animal management contract with the City of New York, the Department of Health commissioned a study to determine what the existing resources were and what future resources would be required to replace the ASPCA.
The following is the complete text of the report by Carl Friedman and Kenneth White chronicling the complete mess the City would be inheriting from the ASPCA and what would be required to maintain a humane shelter system.
REPORT TO THE CITY OF NEW YORK
Department of Public Health
Ms. Enid Carruth, Deputy Commissioner
REGARDING THE TRANSFER OF ANIMAL CARE & CONTROL SERVICE RESPONSIBILITIES FROM THE ASPCA TO MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT
The San Franciso Department of Animal Care and Control
Vice President of Companion Animals and Field Services
The Humane Society of the United States
Credentials of Consultants
Extent of Consultant Services
Observation of RFP Respondent
Observation of Facilities
Scope of Services and Staffing
Delegation of Authority
Proposed Organizational Chart
Immediate Personnel Recommendations
February 28, 1994
CREDENTIALS OF CONSULTANTS
Carl Friedman is currently the Director of the San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control. This municipal agency is in operation twenty four hours seven days a week to provide care and shelter for the stray, injured, neglected and mistreated companion animals and wildlife of the City and County as well as basic animal control, humane law enforcement, and field rescue services. The state-of the-art animal shelter houses approximately seventeen thousand animals per year.
Carl Friedman's previous experience was as Director of Animal Welfare and Protection Services for the San Francisco SPCA which included overseeing the administration of their animal control contract with the City andCounty of San Francisco. Mr. Friedman is also a Commissioner on the City's Commission of Animal Control and Welfare which acts in an advisory capacity for the Mayor and Board of Supervisors on all animal related issues. He has been professionally involved in the field for approximately twenty years.
Kenneth White is the Vice President for Companion Animals and Field Services of the Humane Society of theUnited States, the largest animal protection agency in this country with a membership of 1.8 million individuals. His prior experience includes serving as Deputy Director for the San Francisco Department of Animal care and control where, together with Mr. Friedman, he was responsible for the creation of the Department and the smooth transition of animal control services from the private contractor (SF/SPCA) to municipal government.
Mr. White first entered the field of animal protection and welfare as Director of Education for the San Francisco SPCA in 1978. He frequently lectures and publishes on topics and issues relating to animals and the environment.
EXTENT OF CONSULTANT SERVICES
As a direct result of the ASPCA's decision not to continue providing animal care and control services to the City of New York, we were asked by the Department of Health to visit the major ASPCA animal shelters in Manhattan and Brooklyn and to meet with City officials involved in the transition. We spent several days at this task and, as such, this report must be viewed as nothing other than an initial glance [at] what appears to be a difficult and complex situation. By this report we are simply attempting to highlight key problem areas in the hope of facilitating a smooth and successful transition. As we have already mentioned in verbal reports, we highly recommend that a team of experts be assembled for a more in depth, extensive examination.
OBSERVATION OF RFP RESPONDENT
Although in many ways it might be in the best interest of the City to contract these services with an outside vendor or vendors, it is our understanding that there has been only one respondent to the City's Request For Proposal (RFP). Prior to Mr. White's arrival, Mr. Friedman attended a presentation on February 14, 1994 by that respondent, the Dewey Animal Care Center of Las Vegas, Nevada.
In response to the City's specific request to comment upon their presentation, there are several serious basic concerns that must be expressed. In summary:
- They presented no background or actual experience in negotiating and dealing with the complexities of a union work force.
- Their approach to adoption screening, in our view, falls short of generally accepted current animal welfare philosophy; specifically, they stated that animal ownership was a "right" and, consequently, that only minimal screening was necessary.
- The organizational chart presented appeared inadequate in that it seems not to allow for a necessary level of staffing, especially kennel staff. Further, there did not appear to be any accounting or financial services personnel on the chart.
- They made no mention of after hours care and, upon questioning, stated that this service was not included in the proposal.
- Their proposal only reflects sheltering and not field/rescue services. Upon questioning, however, they stated that they would consider modifying their proposal to include this vital service; however, they acknowledged that they had no experience in this area.
- Their budget did not present individual position salaries and benefits. City representatives stated major concerns regarding this issue. The respondent agreed to present additional details upon receipt of certain documentation from the City.
- It is unclear who will handle major complaints from the public which inevitably arise in this work.
- It is unclear as to how the Dewey Animal Care Center plans to accommodate if the program goes over budget.
- Plans for training of personnel at the Las Vegas site seems unrealistic.
OBSERVATION OF FACILITIES
We visited the two major animal shelters, in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and found both sites seriously flawed.
The deficiencies in the Manhattan facility are well documented in other reports. Certain corrections are currently underway (replacing dog cages with a better designed model and repairing the air flow intake/exhaust system). However, it is our opinion that these corrections will not be adequate to bring this site up to the level of standards appropriate for a major municipal humane program. As one important example, dogs should be housed in adequate kennels and not stacked in two-tier cages.
Furthermore, the "footprint" of the facility appears inadequate for the number of animals housed; the floors are not properly sloped throughout (puddling of water was found in hallways and in several rooms); rust and decay was evident on many surfaces; pipes were leaking; paint was chipping; flies abounded; the noise level was excessive; the lobby space and clerical space were inadequate; water damage was evident; staff reported that the chemical disinfectant delivery system was unreliable and therefore of questionable value as a disease prevention control, as well as presenting a potential hazard to human and animal health. Especially in light of the fact that this facility is only two years old, the appearance of this shelter was alarming.
Our visit was brief and, as such, it would be surprising if other major and relatively minor but still important problems would not be discovered on a more in depth examination. We have made such recommendation for a more thorough investigation in our verbal reports.
Problems discovered in a similarly brief inspection of the Brooklyn Animal shelter included an even worse two-tier cage application for dogs (indeed, so small that dogs housed in some cages were barely allowed room to turn around and, in other rooms, set up so that urine and feces could fall from one animal onto the animal beneath); dogs and cats housed in the same room, apparently for lack of adequate space; torn and ripped metal in cages; vicious dogs housed in such a way that their possible escape necessitated the need for an alarm in the room. In general, the site showed overall decay. As with the Manhattan shelter, our visit was brief and, as such, it would be surprising if other major problems would not be discovered on a more in depth examination. Again, we have made such recommendation in our vrerbal reports.
We also recommend lengthy and candid conversations with the operational staff at both facilities who can probably shed light on other significant and relatively minor problems.
It is important to note in this section that the report prepared by the Department of General Services Division of Real Property is inadequate for your needs. It appears more a description of the various facilities than a true critical assessment by knowledgeable subject matter experts. It is of little to no help for determining the value of these facilities as animal shelters.
SCOPE OF SERVICES AND STAFFING
Until such time as the City and the ASPCA fully negotiate what services will be provided by each, it is exceptionally difficult to make any specific recommendations regarding staffing of the new municipal program. Examples: Who will house animals seized by the ASPCA as part of its humane law enforcement activities, animals which routinely wait for months or even years for court-mandated disposition? Who will physically seize such animals? Indeed, will the City have its own humane investigations program, as is the case in San Francisco? Will the ASPCA continue to operate the much needed Brooklyn clinic, or will this become a City function? Will the City and/or the ASPCA provide critically needed spay/neuter services for the animals adopted by the City as well as privately owned dogs and cats? Will the North Shore Animal League continue to take animals and donate funds to the City's new program? Will the ASPCA be taking animals from the City for adoption? Will the city operate an aggressive adoption program? These and other critical issues must be resolved as soon as possible to help facilitate the orderly transfer of responsibility.
However, there are certain minimal standards and programs which are recommended throughout the animal sheltering community and which the City or its new private contractor(s) must be prepared to provide.
Kenneling. On a daily basis, whether two dozen or two hundred animals are housed, there is a need for kennel staff. However, until the physical site set-up and program are determined and until such time as a more in depth examination of the existing operation can be conducted, it is difficult to recommend a minimum staffing level. For example: a two-story facility has different needs than does a one-story site; different drainage systems impact upon cleaning protocols; do kennel staff assist the public in adoption services and/or lost and found services and what hours/days are those services offered; must kennel staff accompany members of the public in all or some parts of the shelter; are kennel staff responsible for ordering, maintaining and stocking supplies and equipment; are they responsible for basic janitorial and/or grounds keeping services; are they responsible for the euthanasia process; are they responsible for caring for wildlife and/or exotics which require more extensive time and other resources.
As one example, the San Francisco Animal Shelter has eleven full time kennel staff (animal care attendants) to serve an annual animal population of approximately seventeen thousand in a modern two-story facility. Their job specifications and the service levels of the operation have already been presented.
In our brief tours during what is typically a slow season (i.e., Spring and Summer are generally the highest animal population times for shelters) both sites -- but expecially the Brooklyn facility -- looked like they could use more help.
Field /Rescue Services. This aspect of the operation seems to be desperately understaffed. It was made clear to us that twenty-four hour, seven day a week emergency rescue services for injured/sick animals is not available; in our opinion, this is not acceptable. It was also made clear to us that pick up of confined strays was only available five days a week; it is our experience that this leads to more animals being turned loose by a frustrated public. It was also made clear to us that there was not adequate staffing for patrols of dogs at large. Supporting radio dispatch needs will be determined when levels of services are determined.
In our brief visit to the dispatch center, we were informed there were only two drivers available for all five boroughs. This is clearly inadequate. Although this may be comparing "the big apple to oranges," the San Franciso Department of Animal Care and Control (SFDACC) routinely has three to four drivers on the road during the day time shifts for a city of less than 800,000 people living in less than a fifty square mile area; this staffing pattern is consistent seven days per week. For twenty-four hour coverge, SFDACC maintains a staff of eleven drivers.
Clerical Support. This is a record-intensive industry. Data improperly maintained results in mistakes in all fields; in this work, a mistake can mean the needless death of an animal with consequent emotional, public relations and liability concerns. Staffing patterns will, once again, be dependent upon levels and types of services which are as yet defined. Once again, SFDACC has eight employees for this function. As an aside, strong considerations should be made for computerization in this function.
The City must also make decisions about the following programs, all of which will require staffing:volunteerism, spay/neuter, wildlife rehabilitation, humane education, adoption outreach, ueterinary medical programs (from low-cost vaccination clinics to full service), dog license sales at the sites.
As stated throughout this report, until types and levels of service are explicitly stated it is extremely difficult to make staffing recommendations. We have provided the SFDACC staff numbers as a basic rule of thumb. Absent specific information regarding the operational plan, it is worth considering something as basic as San Francisco's staffing patterns by a multiple of four to accommodate what is approximately a four-fold increase in animals. (For example, SFDACC has eleven kennel stafffor approximately 17,000 animals; NYCACC could look at approximately four times the staffing for four times the animals, or between forty and forty-five kennel stafffor approximately 60,000 animals.)
DELEGATION OF AUTHORITY
The delgation of authority for the Department of Health to directly operate animal control was discussed at the work group meeting of February 17, 1994. It is our strong recommendation that specific programs of the new animal control section be codified by ordinance once they are determined. Such an ordinance should include specific mandates for the City's new animal control programs, such as: providing vaccinations, basic health screening, an effective disease prevention program for the facilities, adoptions of appropriate animals, spay/neuter services, a community volunteer program, twenty-four hour rescue, among other services.
We feel that this type of explicit ordinance is necessary for two reasons. Citizens have the right to know what they are to expect from the program. Further, it has been our experience that once services are specifically required by ordinance they are better protected during hard fiscal times.
PROPOSED ORGANIZATIONAL CHART
In our review of the City's proposed organization chart (dated January 26, 1994) we have identified what we consider some major deficiences. Following:
- Reliance upon existing classifications does not take into account the specific professional experience and minimum qualifications needed to create and operate a human[e] and effective animal care and control program. We have provided documents to and have worked directly with the Human Resources Department to help correct this situation.
- Again, until scope and levels of service are defined, the numbers and types of personnel listed on the chart appear to be derived from the ASPCA program and, as such, may not relate to the actual City program.
- There is no mention of accounting functions.
- There is no mention of continuation of clinic services at the Brooklyn facility.
- To improve flexibility within the workforce, we recommend that a number of these classes be combined so they can perform a broad band of duties.
IMMEDIATE PERSONNEL RECOMMENDATIONS
Although it is clear that a great deal of work has been done by various individuals in city government it is imperative that one or more qualified senior management staff with extensive hands-on animal sheltering experience be hired to coordinate this transition. It is our opinion that this be put into place immediately. Frankly, we fear that the program will fail unless one or more such individuals are put into place to immediately begin to coordinate the myriad activities necessary. We can not make this point too strongly. Although their input is invaluable, continuing to rely solely upon City employees who have other full time duties and who do not necessarily have comprehensive related experience and expertise is impractical.
This can be an exciting opportunity for the City of New York, or a great burden with disastrous results for the citizens and animals. Indeed, various overall options exist for providing animal care and control services to the City, all of which have certain merits and ony some of which have apparently been actively explored. For example, a concept which seems to have been dismissed entirely out of hand is for the seeding of five (or perhaps fewer) separate non-profit 501(c)(3) humane organizations established in the boroughs to contract with the City for shelter/kennel services or requiring the boroughs themselves to assume responsibility for shelter/kennel services with a centralized rescue/field services program either run by or contracted through DOH. We suggest that such ideas deserve serious and immediate attention.
No matter which plan is decided upon, much needs to happen immediately if this is to be a success. In addition to the immediate hiring of experienced leaders as discussed above, key equipment must be procured and decisions about the physical shelters and levels [of] services must be made very quickly.
Furthermore, we recommend that a transition team, to include representatives of local animal interest groups, concerned citizens and impacted City agencies, be invited to participate. Although we do not wish to establish additional bureaucracy, we feel that this is appropriate and may prove extremely helpful.
Finally, we must report that, unfortunately, a frequent comment heard in City offices during our visit was "the system won't allow..." this or that to happen. It must be the first job of whoever spearheads the program to make the system work and to generate recognition of its importance and guarantee of support from the highest levels of municipal authority. Things can get done.
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Notwithstanding what was discussed in the report dated February 23, 1994 to Deputy Commissioner Ms. Enid Carruth, we have been asked to identify the staffing needs at the Brooklyn and Manhattan shelters. As was stated numerous times before, only limited time was spent at each of these facilities and it would be impossible for us to accurately determine the exact number of staff needed.
However, at the request of Department of Health, in order to help with their preparation of a budget, we have attempted to extrapolate using our experience and the San Francisco Department of Animal Care and Control as a model.
First, in order to determine staffing needs, service levels must be identified. The following guide will be used as the scope of services to be provided.
- Provide nourishment and medical care for wild and exotic animals, stray, surrendered, and all other animals in our care;
- Provide basic health screening for all animals;
- Provide a preventative disease control program;
- Vaccinate animals in our care;
- Open seven days a week to adopt out strays, unwanted and abandoned animals;
- Humanely euthanize by barbiturate injection those animals unable to be placed;
- Sell dog licenses;
- Provide shelter care for animals in protective custody and under observation or quarantine;
- Provide a volunteer program through which members of the community can get actively involved in helping the animals;
- Provide lost and found services;
- Provide adoption counseling; and
- Maintain accurate records on all animal-related activities.
- Respond to animal-related emergencies;
- Patrol throughout the City on a daily basis;
- Impound dogs at large and rescue animals in distress;
- Provide 24-hour service for picking up seriously sick or injured stray animals;
We have used the statistical data given to us by the A.S.P.C.A. regarding animal impound numbers and their dispositions as a g~udeline. In order to provide the scope of services defined above, we estimate two more office aides (shelter clerical staff) are needed at both facilities. This will bring the total to eight office aides (shelter representatives) at each facility.
Absent of any statistical data regarding the Animal Rescue Division, it is very difficult to determine appropriate staffing needs. To deliver the field services outlined (for 24-hour seven-day-a-week service) we estimate that four additional animal transporters be added. This would bring the total number of animal transporters to sixteen. We would also suggest that the dispatch position and the animal transporter position be combined to provide for more flexibility.
With the limited time we spent researching the operation of the Brooklyn clinic, we find it impossible to determine the stafffing needs and suggest the clinic's chief veterinarian be contacted.
As we discussed on the phone when asked to include these recommendations, we feel somewhat uncomfortable and need you to understand that these stafffing numbers represent only our best guess. If the importance of this request was known to us when we were in your City, much more time would have been spent at each respective facility. With this in mind, we urge you and members of your staff to meet with experienced A.S.P.C.A. staff who are involved with the current operation.
We realize that personnel costs account for the major part of most budgets and the importance of being accurate in this area is critical. We will of course continue to work with members of your staff and other New York City departments to help ease this transition.