Now more than ever, you are needed to donate your old blankets, towels, and sheets to your local animal shelter. With financial cut-backs, repairs on shelters are often put off, so if it's drafty, the animals suffer. I know my shelter uses rags to stuff under doors. No kidding! Empty out those closets... this is your chance to get rid of stuff and do something useful!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Compassion Program in NYC Animal Care and Control (AC&C)... the Yin to the Yang of Emily Tanen Being Fired

These people are hardcore. Take a look. Absolutely admirable. These people go into the "belly of the beast" as far as I'm concerned. But it's not the dogs that are the beasts... it's our national penchant for buying animals when so many die in shelters.

Every night one of nine people show up at the Animal Care and Control center in New York to spend the night, and create a lasting memory for a dog who will be euthanized the following morning. Whether it is a long walk, a special treat, or just time spent cuddling, members of the Compassion Program make it their priority to ensure the dog is happy and loved on his final night.

As a person who never thought she could even walk the dogs at a shelter, and now I (with the help of other volunteers) manage my way through that, this is The Brass Ring -- not only of what needs to be done for shelter dogs but it is truly the hardest thing there is to do. I respect these people so much.

To be clear, NewYork City's Animal Care & Control partners with many non-profits and even spontaneously-started citizen efforts that provide comfort to the system's animals, like the Compassion Program, started four years ago by people who wanted to provide love during an animal's last moments. You can visit the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals to get more info on all the groups and people that partner. It is a truly impressive consortium of organizations working on behalf of the animals in NYC's shelters.

But every good thing has a bad side, right?  Coins have two sides. This week Manhattan Animal Care & Control (AC&C) did something right and they did something wrong.

The Compassion Program and it's fine work does not un-do the recent firing of an animal advocate at NYC's AC&C. Her name is Emily Tanen (from the New Hope Program) and not only did she help partner with local rescue organizations that adopted out the many dogs on the nightly euthanization list at Manhattan's AC&C, but she took beautiful photos of dogs who needed exposure with the public. Those efforts lead to many dogs being adopted. People cannot respond to a dog in need if they don't know she/he exists. I responded to the picture taken of my Mr. Wiggins (from a gassing shelter in Lousiana) and it prompted me to get on a plane to get him. I'll always be grateful to Bonnie E. on Facebook, who "shared" my little guy and pitched for his life to be saved.

Emily Tanen's story has been told by Penny Eims, nationally-known animal advocate and writer of a column for the National Examiner. You might consider writing a note on her behalf. Penny provides the address of NYC's Mayor and various appropriate parties. Many of us are angry Emily Tanen was fired, and are concerned dogs will now not get enough exposure to get adopted. Remember the slide I posted that showed the rate of euthanization going down in NYC? That success will be in jeopardy now.

Here are two graphs from New Hope's own site. These demonstrate the success that can be had when rescue groups and animal shelters are closely connected, and when animal's stories get told.

Please take a moment and protest Emily's firing.

From Penny's article about Emily Tanen:
If you would like to take part in bringing this situation to the attention of officials in the area, please do one or all of the following:

Sign the petition (there are currently 3,930 signatures on it and the goal is 10,000)... please pass this around!

Email Julie Bank, Director of NY ACC at

Drop Mayor Bloomberg a note at

Send Jane Hoffman (Mayor's Alliance) an email at