Letters: Fur Keeps

Regarding Tara Murtha’s recent cover story about Pennsylvania’s animal control:

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted May. 12, 2009

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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, with ongoing efforts to increase the number of healthy adopted animals.

While there continue to be too many animals who become sick after leaving the shelter, this is not a new problem–the animals adopted while under the care of the former agency were sick in larger numbers. Foster care volunteers who have taken in rescued animals from the PSPCA tell us that they are very impressed with the operations and professionalism of the veterinarians and other shelter staff.

The Department of Public Health takes very seriously its job to monitor, evaluate and report on PSPCA. At least twice weekly, staff makes unannounced visits to the shelter to review the conditions of the animals, along with their medical and vaccination history. We hold monthly meetings with PSPCA administrative staff that include review of service levels and outcomes, phone answering reports and the animal control officer field logs. We immediately investigate any complaints we receive.

Unlike the previous operator, PSPCA gives the city’s contract monitor unrestricted administrative rights to review the shelter database, which helps ensure that at any time we have a snapshot of the shelter’s operations.

The city and the PSCPA are eager to ensure a transparent operation to ensure that the public can have confidence in the care and compassion toward Philadelphia’s stray animals. Service level reports are posted on the PSPCA’s website and now include a more detailed report on animals transferred to the PSPCA main site.

We will work to continually improve both the quality and transparency of the services. But animal care and control in Philadelphia will continue to be very difficult until advocates for animals can build trust in each other’s shared mission.

DONALD F. SCHWARZ
Commissioner Department of Public Health 

Arrested Development

Regarding Steven Wells’ recent column about police brutality:

Are you kidding me? With the current “cycle of violence” we find in Philadelphia, you’re really going to editorialize in favor of our citizens being allowed to flagrantly disregard the law?

Please let me explain something to you. It is insanely easy to keep from getting Tazed by the police. Here’s the step-by-step:

1. The police ask you nicely to obey the law.

2. You immediately comply.

As far as I could tell from the video, the police followed step No. 1; where I see things having fallen apart was in step No. 2. It’s therefore totally disingenuous to blame this entire situation on the police. Furthermore, I think this kind of reporting does harm to the effort to bring violent crime under control citywide.

Don’t you think people’s attitudes toward the police and toward their use of violence in their neighborhoods are shaped as much as or more by your printed misrepresentation of this situation, as from the situation itself?

I suspect that you have never had to defend yourself against a mob of people, but I have, and I understand the dynamic. There were a mere three police officers visible among a throng of at least hundreds of bystanders, many of whom actually cheered as this naked man repeatedly refused to comply with the commands of the police to obey the law.

Maybe it was only public nakedness but—as much as you’d like to ignore the fact—it’s against the law. The ability of the police to provide protection from crime among such obviously disproportionate numbers gets severely undermined once the crowd starts leaning in favor of a disregard of the law, and it quickly becomes a dangerous situation for them. If the man were to get away with disregarding the police in this, you can imagine other more nefarious individuals feeling they might be able to get away with something worse, maybe even while the police dicked around with this idiot who couldn’t keep his clothes on.

The police aren’t your friends; their job is to enforce the law. If you disagree with the law, change your voter registration, but next time, when you see the police using force to subdue an arrogant prick who won’t comply when asked nicely, just thank God there are still people willing to put on the uniform and walk out into the streets to try and keep them safe for our mothers and children.

JOSHUA HORTON
Center City

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1. you're smart! said... on May 19, 2009 at 12:47AM

“What an astounding display of ignorance and immaturity. The only person bringing up skin color is you. I read the article and listened to the song several times, and it's clear that the artist is basically making fun of the middle class. He's not criticizing blacks for trying to better themselves. He's simply poking fun at middle class suburban kids who are trying to identify with street culture. If these kids happen to be black, perhaps that adds a dash of irony to the whole thing, considering the history of hip hop and its roots, but that's about as far as it goes. Your use of the n word is totally inflammatory and divisive. You're characterizing someone as a racist simply because you have no understanding of rap music. You automatically assume an attack on a person who happens to be black, is an attack on blacks everywhere. That's the mindset of religious fundamentalists. You're basically a joke.”

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2. JBG said... on May 19, 2009 at 12:58PM

“Mr. Schwartz must have his head in the sand if he isn't aware of the problems at the PSPCA/ACCT. Foster and rescue partners have been jumping ship since January. Can he provide a list of all their rescue partners and the numbers of animals each has pulled by month since January first?”

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