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CONTINUED - Julie Bank resigns…Part II
By Michael Mullins
Published October 23, 2012
own Board of Directors - a seven member body headed by DOH Commissioner Thomas Farley with six city-appointed members serving under him. Consequently, many in the public began characterizing Bank as a weak leader who appeared to toe the line for the DOH.

This negative sentiment toward Bank was compounded when allegations of animal neglect surfaced at the shelter in November of 2010, leading to an ABC investigative report. The ABC News segment featured photos and video allegedly taken by two individuals claiming to be shelter employees, showing shelter dogs and cats lying in feces and urine for unspecified amounts of time. The report also presented a dog walking schedule in which one dog had gone without a walk for three days.

In response, Bank questioned the validity of the images and rejected the allegation that animals were being neglected in areas of the shelters in which the public was not permitted. Bank also said that in some cases dogs were not walked every day because of special circumstances such as health issues or involvement in a DOH case.

The breaking point for many, however, came the following spring when shelter management fired a beloved shelter employee and dismissed an equally well-respected volunteer within weeks of each other without an explanation.

In May of 2011, ACC fired its New Hope Liaison Emily Tanen, who, according to animal rescuers we spoke to, played a critical role in saving the lives of countless NYC shelter animals. In the days following her termination, an online petition calling for her reinstatement exceeded 3,600 signatures, while a Facebook page demanding the same had over 2,100 supporters.

In contrast, online petitions demanding Bank’s removal gained momentum while ACC temporarily removed its own Facebook page following a barrage of unfavorable messages regarding shelter management.

Several weeks later long-time ACC Volunteer Jeff Latzer, a friend of Tanen’s and an ideal volunteer according to former colleagues, having on average spent about 30 hours a week at ACC’s Manhattan shelter, was dismissed. As was the case with Tanen, ACC refused to comment on Latzer’s dismissal, citing confidentiality and privacy issues.

ACC’s silence did not suppress Tanen, however, who in an interview with The Companion said that both she and Latzer had expressed their dissatisfaction to management with the way in which the shelter was being run, which she believes was the reason for their being fired. “I knew I was not the only one that Julie was after,” said Tanen. “She’s looking for the source of all the negative information floating around online. She is trying to get rid of anyone who she thinks could be a source.”

For many NYC animal welfare advocates and rescuers, their perception of Bank was sealed at this point.

Bank ended last summer, however, on a somewhat positive note when she oversaw a ten million funding increase for ACC that would be spread over the next three years. The influx of money would be used to hire more shelter personnel, decrease feral cat populations through increasing trap-neuter-release (TNR) programs and launch a public awareness campaign promoting dog licensing, among other initiatives said the DOH.

The increase, which was advanced in particular by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was not without strings attached. As part of the agreement, the city would no longer be responsible for fulfilling 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.
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