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CONTINUED - Adoption, Intake & Euthanasia down at City Shelters in 2011…Part II
By Michaeal Mullins
Published May 7, 2012
According to Tanen, no clear explanation was provided during the meeting as to why she was being terminated. In an interview with The Companion, Tanen said the only concrete example of a complaint offered as she was being fired involved her not having adhered to ACC’s policy which prohibits photographing people with shelter animals. Tanen felt that in addition to having a calming effect on the animal, a presence of a person holding a breed such as a Pit Bull helped to demonstrate the dog’s fondness for people, which would in turn improve the chances of getting the dog adopted.

Within weeks of Tanen’s firing, ACC Volunteer Jeff Latzer was also dismissed.

Latzer, a friend of Tanen and long-time ACC volunteer donated on average between 25 and 30 hours a week for two and a half years at the Manhattan shelter. Similarly, Latzer’s dismissal provoked a new wave of outrage online, with thousands of animal welfare advocates sounding off on various FB pages, with one calling for his reinstatement receiving over 4,000 likes within 72 hours of his removal.

According to former colleagues, Latzer epitomized the ideal volunteer and often worked to rehab and find homes for the shelters most troubled shelter dogs. As was the case with Tanen, ACC refused to comment on Latzer’s dismissal, citing confidentiality and privacy issues.

The two dismissals were viewed by many in the animal community as ACC’s attempt to remove anyone who might be critical of the shelter system from within their ranks, no matter how much good they were doing for the shelters animals. At the time of Latzer’s dismissal, some ACC dogs were going more than 24 hours without being walked due to a lack of volunteers.

In the short period between Tanen and Latzer’s dismissals, ACC held its annual or semi-annual, depending on the year, Board of Directors meeting, which saw the majority of the public denied access. Inside the meeting, questions from residents went unanswered, which remains the norm, as an ever-growing chorus of discontent among animal rescuers and advocates for ACC became even more apparent.

Following the meeting, a large number of animal welfare advocates gathered outside in protest of the shelter’s overall practices and the fact that 9,373 animals were destroyed at ACC in the last year alone. The protest was organized by The New York Animal Rights Alliance America (NYARAA).

Led by its cofounder Kay Riviello, the NYARAA had throughout 2011 been organizing rallies to increase awareness among New Yorkers about the issues affecting the city’s shelter animals. According to Riviello, the organization’s goal is to bring about dramatic policy change at ACC, leading to “true no-kill shelters in every borough” as well as a “new executive director and an entirely new board of directors who are not beholden to New York City’s Department of Health.”

Not long after the protests and dismissals, in July the city announced a proposed funding increase of nearly $10 million for the beleaguered shelter system to be spread over a three year period. The proposal, which was approved by the City Council later in the year, followed three years of budget cuts from the city, amounting to approximately $1.5 million, or nearly 18 percent of ACC’s budget, since 2009.

The proposed funding increase did not come without strings attached.

As part of the agreement, the city would no longer be responsible to fulfill a prior commitment to create full service animal shelters in all five boroughs, as required under the Animal Shelters and Sterilization Act, which the City Council passed in 2000. Currently Queens and the Bronx have animal receiving centers that, on a limited basis throughout the week, allow for animal abandonment, but not adoption.

Though the lawsuit against the city forcing it to comply with the act had suffered a
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