Two weeks away from a City Hall investigational hearing called by Philadelphia City Councilman Jack Kelly to drill into the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA)’s mismanagement of Philly’s animal control contract, the PSCPA is coming clean on euthanasia and save rate statistics. As critics long speculated, the fuzzy numbers were born in a blind spot created by using two databases but keeping one of the two “closed.”
The PSCPA runs two shelters within a couple of miles of one another. The larger shelter, called ACCT (Animal Care and Control Team) on Hunting Park Ave. in North Philadelphia, is where roughly 31,000 homeless animals funnel into after being saved from the streets or given up by their owners. The animals are processed at Hunting Park, then either pulled by rescue partners, euthanized or sent to the second shelter, on Erie Ave., where PSCPA’s statistics had categorized such animals as “adopted.”
The ACCT database is “open” to the Health Department, which oversees the contract, while Erie’s database remains closed. As PW recently reported [The (Scary) Truth about Cats and Dogs, April 21], critics were concerned that not all of the animals shipped from Hunting Park to Erie were actually being adopted. In fact, they worried that some animals were being euthanized at Erie and not being properly accounted for in the PSCPA’s official save rates.
They were right.
PSPCA board members say they are now working to calculate “more accurate” numbers and will adjust January and February’s statistics accordingly. Between January and February, 786 animals were shipped to Erie and counted as “adopted” and save rates—72.4 percent for January and 80.9 percent for February—were admirable, especially for an organization just transitioning into the municipal animal-control role. PSPCA was also besieged by problems such as CEO Howard Nelson’s abrupt resignation six weeks into the six-month animal-control contract—a contract the organization had feverishly pursued.
March’s statistics, published after PW’s story ran, were presented online with a new section called “Outcomes of PSPCA Transfers,” which itemizes what the PSCPA board says is the true outcome of those animals, though they do not admit that prior stats had been favorably skewed intentionally.
“The numbers were not broken out in that way [in January and February] because that’s not what the city had first requested,” said Beth Ann White in a recent interview at Hunting Park Ave. “Then we all decided to go to the new format to make it more transparent.”
The newly presented numbers assert that, counting euthanasia at Erie, March’s save rate is 62.3 percent and April’s—just published—is 59.6%.
White says there is a team currently working to “redress” January and February’s save rate statistics, and that the new numbers will be published online “soon.”
If January and February’s “Outcomes of PSPCA Transfers” follows March’s pattern, about 118—roughly 15 percent—of the 786 animals previously identified as “adopted” would have been euthanized at the Erie facility.
Yet with Erie’s database still closed, it’s unclear where these new numbers are coming from.
Also puzzling are the PSPCA’s various stories regarding vaccination delays and rescue partners.
PSCPA reportedly struggled internally with the problem of vaccination delays—rescue partners and volunteers allege they cited concerns about those delays at a meeting in March. The shelter came under fire for vaccination delays after rescues began to complain that a bizarre number of cats and dogs coming out of ACCT were unusually sick and that many—especially kittens—were dying at alarming rates.
In April, PW reported rescue partners’ allegations of sick and dying animals and vaccination delays—stretching up to two weeks long—that were potentially responsible.
In April, Beth Ann White wrote a letter to PW denying vaccination delays.
“The Pennsylvania SPCA follows strict protocol regarding vaccination,” White wrote. “Within 24 hours, cats receive feline vital rhinotracheitis, Calici-virus and panleukopenia if older than four weeks and rabies if older than 12 weeks. Dogs are vaccinated with Distemper, Hepatitis, parainfluenza and Parvovirus and bordetella if older than four weeks and rabies if older than 12 weeks.”
In a recent interview, White echoed the claim: “Most animals if not all animals are done within a 12- to 24-hour period at the absolute latest,” she said.
PW has obtained records showing vaccination delays continuing throughout April and up through last week.
As vaccination delays continue, Beth Ann White struggles to reconcile her story regarding the allegations of vaccination delays earlier in the year.
Since last year, the PSPCA has been working with the city to set up, and transfer animal-control duties to, a new city-related nonprofit called the Animal Care & Control Team (ACCT Philly). ACCT Philly formally takes over the contract and the city-owned animal shelter on April 1.
Insiders say Philadelphia shelter conditions have gotten so bad that animals need to be saved from the very place they go for protection. UPDATE: Councilman Jack Kelly's speech citing PW's cover story.
Philadelphia's turned yet another page in our gruesome ongoing struggle for humane animal control. Late Monday, the Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Association (PACCA) lost the contract for anim...
An activist wants to know what is wrong with Philadelphia animal control.
Despite Tara Murtha’s assertions to the contrary, Philadelphia’s animals are in good hands at the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA), the city’s contracted agency to provide animal control services. Contrary to allegations that the facility is “crumbling,” immediately upon taking over the shelter on Jan. 1, 2009, the PSPCA initiated a massive cleanup of the building that included upgrading of the air-handling system, replacement of ceiling tiles, roof repairs and cleaning and fresh painting of surfaces throughout the building. Animals at the PSPCA facility are well cared for; relations with foster care agencies are strong,...
Responses to Tara Murtha’s recent cover story about the mistreatment of animals in shelter care/
Baptism by fire, shit storm, train wreck: These are the nice ways to describe the situation that Sue Cosby -- the new CEO of the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals -- is hurling herself into. Earlier this week, Cosby talked with PW about her new role, her vision for the city’s animal control, and what a long, strange trip it’s been.
The Michael Vick signing has stirred outrage among animal-loving Eagles fans. But this city is already one of the worst in the nation for homeless animals. Will Philadelphians put their money where their mouse is?
Philadelphia’s animal advocates have been meeting once a month since last fall, obstensibly to try to fix an animal control plan that’s been unraveling at the seams. Despite the crisis, the direction is still unclear.
PSPCA plans to pack the dogs into crates and stack them in "temporary emergency housing in the garages at the Erie Ave. facility," according to an email sent from PSPCA to their network of volunteers and rescues.
Everyone who has worked directly with Howard Nelson—who in an earlier life was a Fannie Mae exec—has a strong opinion on him. His detractors are rapid; his supporters devout.