At 6 sharp every evening, the Animal Care Centers of NYC distributes its “At-risk-list,” also called the “kill list,” of dogs and cats scheduled to be euthanatized. The dogs on the list have until 1 p.m. the following day to find a foster or adoptee home; if they don’t they’ll be euthanized.
With the clock ticking, about 300 rescue agencies around New York state begin working the phones and emailing to find fosters or adoptees. The ACC in some cases will put out a “plea” and contact certain agencies if an animal has specific needs. With the hope that the rescue can find a home, foster family or in some circumstances provide medical care.
How does a dog end up in this predicament? Last year the ACC took in 9,730 dogs. The ACC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, open-adoption shelter and the only one of its kind in the city. That means the ACC cannot turn away any animal. They get the 16-year-old mix-terrier with the grotesque tumor and the spunky 9-month-old Pitbull puppy that’s full of energy as well as the Jack Russell running around barking frantically in the street. The ACC takes in around 30 dogs a day. When they arrive, all dogs go through the same process.
Upon entering the ACC, all dogs are given a health examination which includes vaccinations, assuming there are no glaring medical issues. Then, they are then given 24-48 hours to adjust to the shelter followed by professional seven-step temperament test called SAFER. Assuming they do well on both assessments it's upstairs they go for adoption.
There are two kinds of shelters, kill and no-kill. Kill shelters euthanize animals and no-kill shelters do not, so to speak. Technically, to be considered “no-kill” a shelter must have a live release rate of 90 percent or more, meaning 90% of animals leaving the shelter must be alive. So, there are many shelters and rescues that are considered “no kill” although they utilize euthanasia to some capacity.
Rescue groups have dubbed the ACC a “kill shelter” because they euthanize animals. While the ACC is looked down upon by many animal activists and rescues for euthanizing animals they are currently at a 94% live release rate which is well above the benchmark. In-fact many rescues euthanize animals but stay above the 90% release rate so they maintain the “no-kill” label. Keeping in mind they have the option to turn down any animal, which ACC does not.
While the list has been criticized by some animal advocates it does get people’s attention, especially those who want to feel like a hero for saving a dog’s life. Lisa Bakal, a volunteer at Second Chance Rescue, has seen positive panic caused by the list. “People say whatever they think we wanna hear to save the dog.” Many times, people are not aware of the challenges of adopting a dog until they bring one home. This lack of education has severe consequences as, she has had adoptees change their mind after requesting to rescuing a dog for an array or reasons. Many animals are requested to be pulled off the list then returned to the shelter, sometimes immediately. Some no-kill rescues don’t take back dogs they’ve adopted out so often they end up at the ACC.
While these lists make some animal activists rage on social media pages, they also ignite the much-needed panic to save dogs. “The weird thing is people romanticize the euthanasia list,” said Loren McAuley, co-founder of Rebound Hounds about the attention these lists receive online and the uproar they incite. So as infuriated “no-kill “rescues and online animal activists may become, in actuality it helps the animals find adoptees and fosters.
Katy Hanson, of the ACC said while 1601 dogs were euthanized last year, the organization is always looking at ways to decrease this number. When asked how the ACC feels being labeled a “kill-shelter” she says, “That kind of messaging is horrific, imagine how that makes us feel, when people call us a kill-shelter, it’s disheartening.”
Just a few of the Friendly adoptable faces at the ACC
It’s 5:00 p.m. on a late March night in New York’s famed Criminal Court. This is where night court takes place until 1:00 a.m. seven-days a week, 365-days a year for over 1000,000 defendants. It is New York law that defendants are arraigned within 24-hours of being arrested.
Heavy golden metal doors gate the courtroom and when you walk in the seating is like church pews, wooden and hard. About 15 people fill the audience section of the courtroom while an equal number of law enforcement, clerks and lawyers fill the other section. Everyone awaiting on the judge’s arrival. Court clerks shuffle about, bailiffs casually walk back and forth talking and laughing. 5:40 p.m. rolls around and a court worker shouts, “QUIET!” almost instantaneously the room goes silent, an eerie and school-like feeling overcomes the room.
6:09 p.m. and the first detainee is escorted into the courtroom. Handcuffed, wearing a faded mustard yellow shirt, hair in a bun and almost perfectly drawn eyebrows, he walks in smirking. He and the officer seem to have friendly relationship as they sit together in the front row of the public section which is reserved for lawyers, bailiffs and detainees. A second defendant is escorted through the courtroom, handcuffed and shackled, also to the front row.
6:21 p.m. The judge finally makes his way to his chair and strikes conversation with the clerks around him, puts his cloak on. He takes a moment to stir up a large cup of coffee then proceeds to reads the paper while all the bits and pieces continue to move around him.
Almost suddenly there’s a flood of detainees, forming a line as a sheriff scans their eyes one-by-one with an instrument that looks like an iPhone. During this time, a bailiff begins to speak into a microphone and introduces the first arraignment of the night, Mary. She looks young, almost lost, wearing a pink puffy coat and her hair a mess. She is arraigned on charges for selling crack to an undercover officer. Mary is -28-year-old and her bail is set at $20,000. She has 16 misdemeanors and seven failures to appear. Her public defender notes that she is not a flight risk and lives with her boyfriend, he then points to a weathered man in his 50’s, sitting in the pews.
Her Bail is finalized at $20,000 and as she’s escorted out, her boyfriend shouts to her. Almost immediately two officers tell him he can’t yell out in the court. This doesn’t quiet him. “She ain't got a fucking MetroCard, how she gonna get $20,000?!” Eventually he’s escorted out of the courtroom. Tensions take a few minutes to calm and it’s back to night court.
What's going on in the streets of Oakland and what is the OPD doing to keep the streets safe?
Oakland continues to end up on “most dangerous cities” lists and overall crime is up, with homicides increasing by 300% in East Oakland, the Coliseum and the Oakland International Airport, in a report on last quarter compared to 2015.
In a report by the Oakland Police Department last night, Lt. Sean Flemming reiterated that the spike in crime was attributed to two separate unrelated gang conflicts which affected Area 5, known as East Oakland last year. One which began in June/July and ended in October then another separate gang conflict that began in October. These two gang conflicts have since been resolved because of the operation and crime levels are not expected to reach this unusually high peak again.
District 7 Council Member Larry Reid reflected saying, “It’s kind of depressing. I can’t remember having 26 homicides at the end of the year and I’m trying to understand what’s going on in the district which I represent.”
Area 4, which consists of Fruitvale and Macarthur has seen a decrease in 11 of the 13 areas of crime in the quarterly report. Captain Nishant Joshi noted that most of the shootings are gang related. Caption Joshi credits a 3% decrease in robberies to a tactic called “directed patrols” in which officers overlap in specific areas during peak times that robberies occur. Robberies near the Fruitvale Bart station continue due to heavy foot traffic and hours of transit although robberies are down 3% for this quarter.
Although Oakland has implemented Ceasefire and additional gang task forces to areas hit heavily by crime. Area 5 which covers East Oakland, the Coliseum and the Oakland International Airport saw 6 of the 13 areas of crime go significantly up; specifically, homicide with an extremely elevated increase of 300%.
Ceasefire is Oakland’s data-driven violence prevention program. Using a scorecard system Ceasefire tracks gangs and groups most actively involved in homicides and shootings. Generally, there are 4 gangs who “rise to the top” of the scorecard as of now there are 10. Ceasefire Commander Cpt. Ersie Joyner said, “It’s clear right now that our urgency is at an all-time high, in regards to getting on top of this and having a systematic plan to deal with it.” He attributes this rise in numbers of gangs to the merging gangs. Gangs are no longer based upon a geographical area yet may span city wide or even to surrounding cities.
Overall Oakland’s OPD seems to have a clear understanding of where crime is coming from. Hopefully the implementation and redistribution of resources and the evaluation of current systems can aid in the decrease of crimes in Oakland. Fourth quarter, quarterly comparisons were used at this month’s Public Safety Committee Meeting. These quarterly comparisons calculate increases and decreases in 13 specific areas of crime between October 1st, 2016-December 31st, 2016 which are compared to 2015’s fourth quarter.