NYCACC to Volunteers: Pay Up & Shut Up

August 31 Update: New York State Assembly Member Micah Kellner has called on the Mayor and Health Commissioner to rescind the policy of intimidation. You can read a copy of his letter and the No Kill Advocacy Center’s response by clicking here.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil: Ed Sayres, Julie Bank, & Jane Hoffman continue to pursue policies that advance their own power at the expense of the animals.

They already donate their time, doing what they do to help animals out of sheer love and against both difficult odds and a hostile working environment. They do the job the staff is supposed to do: clean cages, provide food and water, socialize and otherwise care for the animals. And they don’t get paid. Now, New York City’s Animal Care & Control (NYCACC) is asking volunteers to pay for the privilege and check their constitutional rights at the door.

Several months ago,  the city pound suspended the volunteer program at the height of the busy summer season, when intakes were at their highest and the animals needed them the most. As a result, animals were left to languish in their cages, go extended periods of time without food and water, wallow in their own waste, and in some cases, remain in pain untreated. In one cases, a dog ate off half his own tail. Why? Those who truly care, those who go to the one place that is the hardest for them to go to, a neglectful pound that allows animals to suffer, were not there in sufficient numbers to be the eyes and ears (and hands) of the animals. And, if they spoke the truth in order to help the animals, they were fired.

Despite the neglect, NYCACC promised the community they would reinstate the program after they developed new policies (there was no rationale why they couldn’t implement the existing program and adjust when the new policies were written). In a recent series of meetings with volunteers, the new policies were unveiled and they demonstrate that conscience, independent thought, constructive criticism, and compassion for animals will not be tolerated. It also defines the killing of healthy and treatable animals as a  service to those animals, and threatens to expel any person who disagrees with that, or any of NYCACC “philosophies.”

Moreover, new volunteers—who already work for free and do the job paid staff is supposed to do—will also have to pay for the privilege of doing so. A fee of $25 is now required for new volunteers (NYCACC promises a t-shirt in return).

Among the highlights of the new program:

  • Volunteers who disagree with any action taken by NYCACC will be terminated.
  • Volunteers must illegally waive their First Amendment rights by agreeing not to say anything about NYCACC without permission.
  • Any photographs taken by volunteers are the property of NYCACC.

These new policies are not only regressive and draconian, designed to ensure that NYCACC operates without any accountability, but they are illegal and expose NYCACC, its officers, and City taxpayers to a  Section 1983 lawsuit for violating the civil rights of volunteers if they are terminated for petitioning their government for a redress of grievances or exercising their First Amendment rights. The fiction that NYCACC is a private-not-profit, rather than a city agency, will not shield it from liability.

While the Big Three—Ed Sayres of the ASPCA, Jane Hoffman of the Mayor’s Alliance, and Julie Bank of NYCACC—continue their charade that New York City is a national model of compassionate care, things continue to go from bad to worse for the animals.

As reported earlier, in addition to claiming they do not have enough food to feed the animals right down the street from the nation’s wealthiest SPCA (the ASPCA took in over $120,000,000 in one year alone), cats and kittens in the “maternity wards” are left without food or water, animals are left wallowing in their own waste, animals are not getting any socialization, and sick animals are not getting the care they need. In fact, the shelter is withholding pain medications from injured animals.

Hundreds of millions of dollars flow into the coffers of New York City’s large “animal protection” organizations, including the ASPCA.   Yet the neediest animals in New York City’s badly mismanaged pound:

  • Go without basic care;
  • Languish in filth;
  • Are being denied needed medical treatment;
  • Healthy and treatable animals are put to death; and,
  • The shelter has warned it is running out of food to feed them.

And those who want to do something about it are prevented from doing so: anyone who expresses concern about conditions is summarily terminated.

Welcome to New York City (ACC) volunteers: Now pay up and shut up, or go home.