ASCPA – steps up, acknowledges and FIXES


gloria2I think that most of you have followed the story of Gloria. Gloria was a cat that was abandoned at an ASPCA mobile clinic about a month ago. The ASPCA turned her over to the ACC in NYC.  After three weeks the ACC put her on the kill list and Pets Alive pulled her. We discovered the following morning that this cat had a very severely broken leg.

It was a terrible thing to lay in bed at night and think about this cat suffering for so many weeks in so much pain, and no one doing anything for her.  I can’t even imagine the pain and I keep hearing over in my head the little  whimper she made as I held her when we we first got her here at Pets Alive.  At the time we didn’t think too much of it, but by the next day, when we found out what was wrong with her, it was deeply unsettling to us all.  With that fueling us, Pets Alive went on the attack.  John Sibley, a regular volunteer at Pets Alive and also a web blogger who first told us about Gloria, also had a lot to say about the issue – check out his blogs here.

Normally I would just attack via social media and it might spread viral across the web and a lot of people would know about it, but this time I decided to try something else.  I called them and asked them about it.  I have a person I would call a friend at the ASPCA and I said “How did this happen.  How could this happen.”  And you know something?  She was aghast.  And astonished and just as upset as I was.  And she turned it over to her superiors and you know what happened?  They looked into it.  They did a complete investigation as to what happened and why and how and they came to some conclusions.

Are you ready for this?

They said: We were wrong.  We made a mistake in this situation, and we’re putting in place change so something like this can never happen again.

Here is the press statement that is being released by the ASPCA in response to Gloria.

The ASPCA has conducted an internal investigation into why Gloria, a stray cat with a broken leg who was abandoned in front of one of the ASPCA’s mobile spay/neuter vehicles, was transferred to NYC AC&C.

Our staff followed our regular procedure of sending stray animals left with us to NYC AC&C since that is where people who have lost their pets go to look for them.  At the time Gloria was admitted to AC&C, we notified its staff that Gloria had a broken leg and needed treatment.

The bottom line is that we failed Gloria, and we are grateful that Pets Alive saved her. Our strict adherence to regular procedure was clearly contrary to our mission in this case, and we deeply regret that we did not alter protocol to treat Gloria immediately instead of relying on AC&C to do so. We are implementing new procedures to prevent this from happening again.

We thank Pets Alive for stepping up to provide Gloria with the surgery and care she needed. The ASPCA is awarding a grant to Pets Alive to fund the cost of Gloria’s surgery, medical care, and convalescence and to continue its work saving more animals.
So let’s take a look at this.The ASPCA brought Gloria the cat to the ACC because that was standard protocol. The cat was a stray and if the owner was looking for her the only place they can find her is at the ACC. So that is where they bring her and they TELL them the cat needs care immediately.

It appears that by this statement, the ASPCA is taking full responsibility for maybe dropping the ball on Gloria, but my mind really goes to the ACC. The ASPCA had the cat, diagnosed the cat, followed protocol and brought the cat to the ACC where she was….what? Neglected for three weeks and then put on a death list. But I digress.  This is about the ASPCA.  The ASPCA followed their protocols.

gloriaPets Alive has similar ones. When people bring a stray animal to us, we always tell them it has to go first to the local humane society so that if the owner is looking for the pet they have the best chance of finding him or her. Then we do monitor the dog or cat, because once an animal steps foot on this property we wind up all feeling a bit of a sense of responsibility to that animal and if they go on to a death list we will pull and take them here, but at least their owners had the best possible chance of recovering the animal! So we can’t really attack the ASPCA for doing that. I understand the part about bringing a stray to the place the owners can find their pet, should they be looking. And they told the ACC about this and why should they not have expected the ACC to treat Gloria? After all the ACC is responsible for the animals in NYC aren’t they? Darnit, I digress again.

But in this case the ASPCA issues this statement and they CHANGE that policy – my friends this is completely astonishing.  This press release says to me, if I were to sum it up: “Wow. We messed up on this one. We should have done things differently. We are upset about this and we’re damn well going to change things and do things differently from now on”.

And then they acknowledge US and ask for people to make donations to us?  How gracious is that? But more importantly than that they are changing their protocols. If an animal crosses their path it won’t be standard any more to bring to the ACC. Instead they will take responsibility and care for that animal. Should they have done this in the first place? Yes. No question in my mind. Yes. An animal needs medical care and you have a medical facility well then help the animal. Then again, no one ever really believes what a crummy place the ACC really is. This is just more proof.

When I got the call from the ASPCA to tell me this, they sounded very upset about the whole thing.  It wasn’t a snow job. I completely felt that they meant it.  They had launched an investigation.  They had gotten to the bottom of what had happened. They CHANGED their protocols.  I was completely astonished.  My contact at the ASPCA said to me “When it is about the animal, and everyone remembers that, the right thing WILL happen”.

This isn’t about the ASPCA.  This isn’t about Pets Alive.  This isn’t about an “image” for the media. This isn’t even about the ACC (ok, it is but I’m trying to make a point here).  This is about Gloria.  It was about failing Gloria and then fixing that. I will be the first one out there attacking and reporting when I’m upset with the way things are being handled by other organizations and if I am going to do that then I also have to be the first one to say “I’m impressed.  GREAT job” when they do something right.  In this case the ASPCA did something right.  They admitted fault. They fixed it going forward.  And I will tell you that as the director of Pets Alive I have made many mistakes over the years.  I like to think I never make them twice. But there is no way you are always going to do everything perfectly and neither will our staff.  When we have screwed up, we acknowledge it and we fix it going forward.

I’m impressed with the ASPCA in this situation.  And yes I’m grateful that they will help us with the costs for Gloria, which has been financially staggering to us…but that isn’t it.  It isn’t about the money. I’m over joyed that they looked into this. Were upset about it. Fixed it. And contacted me about it.  I’m super impressed with this press release. It means a great deal. It means a lot. Read between the lines at all the meaning behind this. And be impressed too.

Now, ASPCA if you would just get behind CARA, we would be happy to rename the proposed law to “The ASPCA is FREAKING awesome ACT of 2012“. Whaddya say?

And ACC?  Really. The ASPCA, in my opinion, had MUCH MUCH less responsibility in this situation. You examined Gloria THREE times. Yet they stand here and take the blame for this. They had Gloria just a few hours. And THEY are standing here accepting responsibility. You had Gloria in your “care” for more than three weeks. YOU examined her three separate times. You let her suffer like this. YOU need to step up and make changes to make sure this never happens again.  Will you? What changes can you make there to make sure cats like Gloria don’t slip through the cracks?

(Damnit. I made it about the ACC again. I can’t seem to help myself.)

But anyway, thank you ASPCA for stepping up. Responding to this. And fixing it going forward. It is what we needed for you and we’re glad that you addressed this.

(I personally love the press release part where you mention Pets Alive!!!!!! – can we throw in a URL there? A donation box? No? Ok, Yeah that would be pushing it.)

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