Shelter Reform Action Committee is proud to publish a report by an ACC employee.
We cannot reveal the employee’s name, of course, because that would be the end of his/her employment at the ACC.
ACC Management will fire any employee with the temerity to break the code of silence that Julie Bank & Co. has imposed.
ACC supervisors warn their staff to keep silent, because speaking the truth will inevitably get someone in trouble. No one wants to lose their job, beginning with ACC Management.
ACC Management’s goal isn’t to ensure that shelter animals are properly cared for, but rather to claim (falsely) that they are.
You be the judge whether the employee’s report (as well as all the reports by volunteers, fosters, and adopters that we’ve previously published) square with what ACC Management says are the ACC’s “values”:
We value the integrity of each employee, volunteer and partner contributing to the professional delivery of excellent customer service and the humane treatment of animals, in an atmosphere of open, honest communication, predicated on our trust and respect for each other. http://www.nycacc.org/About.htm
NOTE: We have changed some of the phraseology and idiomatic expressions in the original version of the employee’s report to make it even more difficult (hopefully impossible) for ACC Management to identify this courageous individual. So much for the ACC’s “open, honest communication, predicated on … trust and respect for each other.”
And with that introduction, we offer you the employee’s initial report.
A Culture of Apathy
The employee culture at the Manhattan ACC shelter can be summed up in a single word: apathy.
“Apathy”: Lack of Interest, Emotion, Feeling.
Take the Shelter Manager. She wears regular clothing, not the uniform required of all the other staff members at the shelter, a constant reminder that she rarely interacts with her staff or visits the animals in her shelter.
The Assistant Shelter Manager regularly walks by dirty kennels and crates, empty water bowls, and sick animals without concern. He, and the rest of the staff responsible for the cleaning and care of the animals, simply cannot keep up, and stopping to tend to everything that needs tending to would mean never getting to whatever task is at hand.
Cages and kennels are cleaned thoroughly once a day, but the intermediate checks throughout the rest of the 24-hour period between cleanings are infrequent and rarely thorough. Some dogs may go for days without ever going outside, and their kennels need frequent attention.
Yet moments after a staff member has supposedly signed off on a chart saying s/he has done one of these intermediate checks to look for empty water dishes or dirty kennels, I have seen animals without water and with soiled kennels and linens. Management turns a blind eye to the extremely poor quality of life that the animals have, and shelter staff is completely overwhelmed with the number of animals in their care.
It is impossible to keep all the cages, crates, and kennels clean with the number of staff at the shelter. As a result the staff detaches themselves from the animals and stop trying to do the impossible. I have watched new employees, disturbed by the living conditions of the animals, give 110%. Of course they fail in their attempts to make the shelter a better place, are ridiculed behind their backs by the veteran employees, and their good intentions are discouraged by management and derailed by misguided “policy.” They soon give up, either quitting or joining the ranks of the other jaded and detached employees.
The lack of veterinary and medical personnel is equally disturbing, and injured and ill animals do not receive the care they require. For an organization that euthanizes animals for relatively minor and completely treatable medical issues, animals with painful injuries and serious illnesses suffer significantly from lack of medical care before they even make it to the euthanasia list.
This apathetic culture may partially be a result of lack of funding and staffing, but the foundation and encouragement for it comes from the top. And because AC&C Management actively discourages any change to the status quo, the shelter animals suffer. More staff and funding might bring partial relief from some of these issues, but as long as employees are discouraged from taking pride in their work and encouraged to keep their mouths shut about any shortcomings or problems within the organization, then these issues will persist.
This culture of silence is the unwritten law at the AC&C. Oh, sure, the AC&C Employee Handbook states that employees should go to their direct supervisors if they have questions or concerns, and even cites an “open door” policy. But the reality is that AC&C supervisors and management at every level reprimand employees who come to them with concerns.
And in cases where an employee has a concern that needs to be addressed immediately, as often happens in animal welfare situations, it can be impossible to contact the supervisor who is supposed to be on-duty, leaving employees with no authority to act and no recourse.
Ultimately, the goal for most AC&C employees becomes staying under Management’s radar, and in the interest of self-preservation they are forced to do their best to ignore the blindingly obvious and systemic animal welfare issues that exist within the AC&C.