SAN FRANCISCO, PHILADELPHIA, KNOXVILLE––The San Francisco SPCA and San Francisco Animal Care & Control in calendar year 2000 together killed fewer than 2,000 cats and dogs.
That was under 2.6 cats and dogs per 1,000 human residents, 15.6% of the national average, 1,001 fewer than the 1999 previous record low, and about 15% lower than even midyear statistics projected.
The Pennsylvania SPCA board of directors on December 13, 2000 indirectly saluted the success of no-kill animal control in San Francisco by voting unanimously to give up the Philadelphia animal control contract when the current deal expires on June 30.
After July 1, the Pennsylvania SPCA will continue to do animal control for Philadelphia on a month-to-month basis for up to 12 months while the city forms its own animal control department.
A similar separation of humane services from animal control, announced in 1984 and completed in 1989, started San Francisco on the way to no-kill. Getting out of animal control enabled the SF/SPCA to focus on low-cost and free neutering, and on boosting adoptions. After five years of rapidly falling shelter intakes and expanding adoption capacity, the SF/SPCA and SF/ACC ended animal population control killing in San Francisco with the Adoption Pact, the 1994 agreement under which the SF/SPCA guarantees a home to any healthy or recoverable cat or dog whom the SF/ACC department cannot place.
Since then the definition of recoverable has steadily expanded, to include ever more hard cases who formerly were believed to have no chance of placement.
Philadelphia paid the Pennsylvania SPCA $790,000 to handle animal control in 2000-2001 under the current contract, but executive director Eric Hendricks estimated the actual cost of the program at several million dollars more.
“We don t have the resources to continue to subsidize animal control, nor do we have the desire to continue to simply process thousands of animals through our shelter on their way to death,” Hendricks told Philadelphia Daily News staff writer Gloria Campisi.
Hendricks indicated particular frustration with the failure of the Philadelphia city government to enact effective legislation to help the Pennsylvania SPCA combat backyard breeding of pit bull terriers. The Pennsylvania SPCA killed 3,500 pit bulls in 2000, many of them suspected veterans of illegal fighting.
Like the San Francisco SPCA, the Pennsylvania SPCA has already been aggressively promoting low-cost sterilization surgery for some years now.
The Pennsylvania SPCA, founded in 1869, is the second-oldest humane society in the U.S. Founded one year later, the Women’s Humane Society of Philadelphia in 1872 became the first nonprofit organization to handle animal control. It passed the contract to the Pennsylvania SPCA in 1978.
In Knoxville, the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley went no-kill on January 1, turning the Knoxville city and county pound contracts over to the newly formed Knoxville Animal Welfare Center. HSTV too has long promoted low-cost sterilization surgery, leading Knox County to one of the lowest rates of animals killed per 1,000 residents of any southern jurisdiction, and now expects to pick up the pace.
Executive director Vicky Crosetti, trained as a vet tech, told ANIMAL PEOPLE that she found running a clinic-focused organization more congenial from day one than running a pound had ever been.
HSTV opted to go no-kill in June 2000 after the city and county balked at paying the full cost of providing animal control service at the level expected by the public.
The city and county eventually kept HSTV on the job through December by paying it well over half of the $640,000 animal control budget for the fiscal year and reportedly now expects the Animal Welfare Center to operate for its first six months on the remaining $236,000. The money is to cover 17 staff positions, including animal control director Randy Keplinger at $55,000 per year and a fulltime veterinarian.
Keplinger had been animal control chief in Oak Ridge since 1991.
Many other cities are already following the San Francisco route to no-kill, but in San Francisco, SF/SPCA president Ed Sayres opened 2001 with nearly two dozen key staff positions vacant and few people left from the middle-management team he inherited two years ago upon succeeding Adoption Pact author Richard Avanzino.
Avanzino took several key people with him to Maddie s Fund, the $220 million foundation he now heads, formed by People-Soft magnates David and Cheryl Duffield to promote no-kill animal control nationwide.
Sayres rapidly hired new personnel and added positions to cope with a mid-level management deficit, he told ANIMAL PEOPLE, but several of the new hires lasted just long enough to provoke the departures of other people from the Avanzino era.
November 2000 brought the abrupt resignations of Law and Advocacy Department chief Nathan Winograd, his assistant Michael Baus, contract aide Leslie Wilson, and Cat Assistance Team director Emma Clifford and calls from some influential longtime SF/SPCA supporters for Sayres resignation.
Anxiety about Sayres among some SF/SPCA staff and volunteers developed early, when Sayres solicited the views of some longtime SF/SPCA critics before the people whose work was criticized had confidence that Sayres understood their positions.
In fact, after hearing out the critics, Sayres made few policy changes. Of particular significance, Sayres in January 1999 reviewed an analysis of the Law and Advocacy Department submitted by consultant Mitchell Fox, a longtime personal friend; then read a rebuttal submitted by Winograd, and hired Winograd, 34, then working on a contract basis, to head Law and Advocacy fulltime.
Winograd while a Stanford university undergraduate in the late 1980s was among the first Americans to advocate, teach, and practice neuter/return feral cat control. By the early 1990s, when neuter/return came into vogue, Winograd was unofficial legal advisor to cat rescuers all over the U.S. He first worked for the SF/SPCA in 1994-1995, and remained involved on special projects thereafter, including during a three-year stint as a Marin County prosecutor.
All sources inside or formerly inside the SF/SPCA, including Sayres, told ANIMAL PEOPLE that Winograd did an outstanding job. Three times in two years the California legislature adopted bills implementing the recommendations of Winograd and Leslie Wilson, twice against heavy pressure from conventional shelters. The Feral Fix program, run by Law and Advocacy, sterilized more cats each year than the year before, for the sixth and seventh years in a row.
In late 1999 Sayres promoted Winograd to executive director. Winograd resigned in March 2000, and gave notice of intent to leave the SF/SPCA. He eventually agreed to stay on until April 2001, to complete projects already underway.
In September and October 2000, Winograd submitted to fellow members of the SF/SPCA executive staff and to vice president Daniel Crain a pair of reports detailing alleged problems with cash control and accountability, budget overruns, employee morale, and interdepartmental conflict.
Defacto shop steward
Sayres named Winograd operations director on November 1, assigned to fix the problems. On November 10, however, Winograd again resigned. He worked on special projects from his home until November 29, when Sayres terminated him under an agreement which precluded talking to news media.
Wilson was apparently also constrained from talking. Baus, however, in statements to the Cat Assistance Team and SF/SPCA board, and Clifford, in a letter to CAT volunteers, both made clear that Winograd had in effect been defacto shop steward in taking SF/SPCA employee grievances to higher-ups. Other SF/SPCA personnel told ANIMAL PEOPLE that they believe Winograd s exit will boost an effort to unionize the hospital and shelter rank-and-file staff.
Documents obtained by ANIMAL PEOPLE from many different sources indicate that Winograd repeatedly conflicted with Sayres over priorities, as Sayres advanced plans to renovate a former grocery warehouse into a $17 million Animal Well-Being Center, hosted the first of a planned series of annual Kinship Conferences on the animal/human spiritual bond, and sought to improve the save rate for sick and ill animals brought to SF/ACC by taking over the night care contract from another San Francisco peninsula no-kill shelter, Pets In Need, of Redwood City.
Headed by Brenda Barnette, a former SF/SPCA administrator under Richard Avanzino, Pets In Need hired SF/SPCA resignee Emma Clifford almost as soon as her availability became known. Clifford went on to found Animal Balance, an organization that does spay/neuter projects on ecologically sensitive islands in the developing world, including the Galapagos, Cape Verde, and the Dominican Republic.
Winograd also clashed with Sayres over personnel decisions. Winograd opposed the hiring of at least three administrators, all now departed, whose presence others cited in leaving. Former finance director Mark Levy lasted just three months; former personnel director Nadine Greiner lasted six months.
Vice president Mark Goldstein, DVM, lasted one year.
Sayres hired Goldstein, 48, from Angell Memorial Hospital, flagship institution of the Massachusetts SPCA, to become his second-in-command. Sayres told ANIMAL PEOPLE that he had not previously met Goldstein, but was impressed by his resume.
Goldstein from 1987 to 1991 ran the Boston city zoos. Closing the Stone Zoo, which had been designated one of the worst in the U.S. before his arrival, Goldstein focused funding on the less decrepit Franklin Park Zoo and achieved American Zoo Association accreditation, which neither zoo previously had. [The Stone Zoo has since reopened and extensively renovated under Brian Rutledge.]
Next, from 1992 through 1995, Goldstein headed the Los Angeles Zoo, which had been under his predecessor, Warren Thomas, for 25 years. Thomas left a legacy of obsolescent exhibits, budget deficits, low attendance, and poor staff morale.
Goldstein made bitter enemies there, especially in connection with his attempted transfer of a highly popular elephant named Hannibal to the Mexico City Zoo. Hannibal died of alleged oversedation as the zoo staff tried to prepare him for transport.
Sayres had also tried to change directions at an organization which had long been under another head with a different philosophy with similar results. Succeeding 19-year American Humane Association animal protection division chief Dennis White [now with the Humane Society of the U.S.] in August 1995, Sayres left amid board level conflict in April 1997.
Sayres initially put Goldstein in charge of merging the SF/SPCA in-patient and out-patient programs, hoping to realize economies of scale.
“That was a change in management process that in hindsight I see I didn’t handle well,” Sayres told ANIMAL PEOPLE. “I asked Mark to make a pivotal culture change. It didn’t work out well, and that was part the message, part the messenger. We didn’t realize, for example, that doing in-patient care with animals from our shelter suits a different kind of veterinary personality than doing out-patient care, where the vet has to work with the public. We made mistakes. Fortunately our new director of veterinary services, Jeff Prue, seems to be sorting them out.”
Goldstein was given other tasks.
Meanwhile, at least four SF/SPCA employees issued complaints against Goldstein for alleged sexual harrassment. Two of the four left the SF/SPCA. One of them, vet tech Jennifer Tucci, on December 5 formally sued the SF/SPCA in the San Francisco U.S. District Court for allegedly failing to respond effectively to her complaints.
A similar situation at the Peninsula Humane Society in San Mateo, the next city south of San Francisco, made local headlines for months. Accused of intimidating and harassing female employees, former PHS executive director Pete LaVault on December 1 reportedly accepted a $160,000 contract buyout offer from the PHS board.
The allegations involving Goldstein and the SF/SPCA, however, apparently did not become known outside the organization.
Goldstein left the SF/SPCA, ironically, soon after Winograd. On January 4, 2001, San Diego Humane Society chair Judith Munoz announced that, Mark Goldstein has accepted the position of president, filling the vacancy left by John Merritt, the former executive director, who quit on October 1 to run the pound in Jacksonville, Florida.
Even more ironically, an ad hoc committee of San Diego-area animal rescuers had lobbied since Merritt’s exit for Winograd to be hired in his place.
The San Diego Humane Society and San Diego Department of Animal Control, headed by Dena Mangiamele, DVM, have been embarked for just over a year on a planned trajectory toward no-kill animal control that is to include jointly occupying a $21 million new shelter in 2003. The physical proximity of separate services is intended to resemble the kitty-corner proximity of the SF/SPCA and SF/ACC.
“Yes, there have been bumps, and yes, I have not batted 1.000, and yes, I have a different style than Richard Avanzino,” concluded Sayres, who received strong support from the SF/SPCA board, “but the Adoption Pact and the strategies that got us there are not in jeopardy. Our feral cat program is fully functional,” Sayres said, “after hiring new staff, and the resources to it will be increased because it is vital to our lifesaving goal.”
As to the future of the Law and Advocacy program, Sayres said he saw no reason for policy changes, praised and distributed publications that the departed staff issued only days before they quit, and left the department under vice president Crain for the interim, pending hiring a fulltime successor.
(This article originally appeared in the January/February 2001 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE.)