Meetings - October 17, 2019 - Minutes

Meeting Date: 
October 17, 2019 - 5:30pm
City Hall Room 408
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102



Meeting Minutes October 17, 2019


  1. Call to Order and Roll Call

Present: Annemarie Fortier; Bunny Rosenberg; Nina Irani; Russell Tenofsky; Brian Van Horn, DVM; Michael Torres, Jane Tobin

Absent: Lisa Wayne; Officer Ryan Crockett; Shari O’Neill


  1. General Public Comment:
    • Members of the public commented regarding:
      • Support for the reinstitution of Animal Care & Control’s CID (“contact interested party”) policy; 
      • Concern that Officer Ryan Crockett does not attend meetings;
      • Concern regarding society’s treatment of rodents that play an integral role in the ecosystem.


  1. Approval of Draft Minutes from September 2019 Meeting
    • Meeting minutes were approved.


  1. Chairperson’s and Commissioners’ Reports
    1. Commissioner Fortier reported on ACC/SPCA’s upcoming block party fundraiser on October 24.
    2. Commissioner Tenofsky reported on recently passed California laws banning new fur sales, wild animals in circuses, and trophy hunting of bobcats, and strengthening the sexual abuse law.


  1. New Business
    1. Introduction of New Deputy Director John Skeel, SF Animal Care & Control (ACC)
      • ACC Director Virginia Donohue introduced new Deputy Director Skeel. 


  1. SF SPCA/ACC Feral Cat Program Changes
    1. An update on ACC’s policy for feral kittens and mothers. 
    2. Director Donohue reported on nursing queen intake.  Of 41 nursing queens brought to ACC, 12 were feral/semi-feral.  Of those, 7 were fostered through Toni’s Kitty Rescue, 4 went to rescue partners, and 1 was euthanized for medical reasons.  Of the 7 fostered, 2 went to Give Me Shelter.  Maria Conlon commented that the 2 queens taken in by GMS were not feral/semi-feral, so that the assessment of cats inside and outside of the shelter environment differs. 
    3. Commissioners Irani and Van Horn reported on meeting with Supervisor Safai regarding issue of city’s responsibility for feral cats; Director Donohue reported that Supervisor Safai had not yet reached out to discuss, but would be meeting with Supervisor Mandelman’s staff this month.
    4. Members of the public commented in support of policy reversal.


  1. Euthanasia Protocol at ACC
    1. In rare cases, animals brought to ACC are euthanized.  A review of the protocols, including notification of partner organizations, when euthanasia is advised.  Commissioner Tenofsky leads and Peter McKosky (rescue activist and founder of Brooklyn Empty Cages Collective) will speak. 
    2. Mr. McKosky reported that ACC euthanasia numbers are higher than other cities such as Austin, and that a healthy dog, Floppy, whom he had found tethered in the street was killed after 7 days despite a rescue group’s commitment to take him.  He raised concerns about the discontinuation of the CIP policy and that ACC contacted only 2 of its hundreds of rescue partners to take Floppy.  He also reported concern that ACC has killed every bat that has come into shelter, despite fact that bats are already ecologically troubled, and concern that ACC is euthanizing treatable pigeons.  Mr. McKosky advocated for the reinstatement of CIP, as the Good Samaritan policy is inadequate, and recommended legislation requiring ACC to inform finders and all partners 48 hours in advance of euthanasia, so that policy does not shift with personnel changes.
    3. Director Donohue reported that CIP has been replaced by “Finder to Adopt” (when finder has committed to adopting and will be contacted before euthanasia) and “Good Samaritan Call Status” (meaning finder has not committed to adopt so is not notified before decision-making but only of outcome).  The CIP policy was changed because the public was confused as to its meaning, believing they would be the decision makers regarding an animal’s outcome.  The new coding relates primarily to interactions with the public, not rescue partners.  Messaging to the public has not changed as finders are still asked if they are interested in adopting; only the internal coding has changed.  Further, ACC now only notifies rescue parties based on their stated criteria, which has been more effective than blanket notifications.  Regarding bats, ACC will speak to the Health Department, which is the final arbiter of the issue as it involves the risk of rabies.  She also reported on Floppy’s behavioral issues and the medical care and enrichment he received before euthanasia, and that ACC was never contacted by the interested rescue organization.  Listing all animals as adoptable to the public is problematic because: 1) it diverts attention from difficult-to-adopt but healthy animals, 2) many people who reach out do not end up following-through; and 3) ACC cannot put potentially dangerous animals out in public in violation of their duty.
    4. ACC will be following-up with its rescue partners to clarify this policy, and will be updating its public website accordingly as well.
    5. The Commission will look into potential legislation requiring notification to finders and rescue groups and consider next steps.  
    6. Members of public commented regarding concerns with healthy animals being euthanized and in support of reinstatement of CIP policy as a safety net, especially for feral cats who are excluded from Good Samaritan policy, and proposed legislation requiring notice before euthanasia. 
    7. A member of the public also commented regarding the high level of care by ACC volunteers and staff and concern regarding Facebook group titled “ACC Kills.”


  1. Old Business

A. SF Dog Licensing and Tethering

1. The Commission will discuss the regulation requiring dog guardians to register their pets.

2. Commissioner Irani deferred issue until Deputy Director Skeel has the opportunity to look into it.      


7. Commission Technology Update

Commissioners’ efforts to update the webpage and secure oversight from a City agency.

  1. Commissioner Tobin reported that issue of finding an administrator remains unresolved, but that Commissioner Torres will be able to update the website with meeting audio. 
  2. Commissioner Fortier reported on ongoing follow-up with Supervisors.    
  3. Member of the public asked whether contacting Supervisors regarding this issue would help.


8. General Public Comment

  • None.


9. Items to be put on Calendar for Future Commission Meetings

  1. Combined Live Release Numbers will be postponed until January.
  2. Technology Update


10. Adjournment (approx. 7:25 p.m.)