AMC rift goes public
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1996:
NEW YORK, N.Y.––A two-year clash between senior staff and
management at the nonprofit Animal Medical Center in Manhattan exploded
into the New York Times and New York Post in early February. Eight
veterinarians from a permanent AMC staff of 25 quit between March 1994
and March 1995, after which the remaining vets split into factions of 11
opposing chief-of-staff William Kay, DVM, and 10 supporting him, six
of whom were said to be related by marriage.
Documents received by ANIMAL PEOPLE from the dissident
faction indicate Kay, a 30-year employee with strong board support, was
soon afterward kicked upstairs and replaced on an interim basis by Michael
Garvey, DVM, whose policies are no more popular and who is reportedly
soon to be replaced by a new permanent chief of staff.
On May 12, 1995, 10 AMC vets with 82 years of combined
service charged in a statement to the AMC board that, “Garvey’s administrative
leadership has been marked, among other things, by insistence on
absolute loyalty, to the point where any dissent is offered at the risk of
harassment and/or dismissal,” and asserted that, “We have reason to
believe that a significant expenditure was made from AMC operating funds
to defray settlement of a sexual harassment charge brought against Dr.
Kay,” who was paid $207,000 in 1994, after getting raises totalling
$73,000 over the preceding five years. “We have reason to believe that the
sum expended on this matter exceeded $40,000,” the letter said. The Post
said AMC board members were told the actual settlement was $26,000.
The letter-signers, two of whom were fired later in 1995, and
have filed claims with the National Labor Relations Board, also argued
that AMC treatment standards had declined, “in part due to the improvident
focus on the numbers of clients we see and the dollars per case we
generate,” and complained that the AMC hired a horse surgeon, a purported
personal friend of Kay, to supervise the care of small animals and the
training of small animal veterinarians.
But the problem dominating the headlines involved the handling
or non-handling of charity cases––by an institution formed in 1910 to help
the animals of the poor. The Post cited numerous cases of animals being in
effect held for ransom, in some cases apparently in violation of New York
state law, or being refused treatment because clients in distressed circumstances,
e.g. in the wake of a fire that destroyed all their possessions, were
unable to make a sufficient advance deposit against treatment costs.