Winograd Attacks Former Protege

Below is an article about Philly PAWS, the organization that runs the municipal shelter. In the past I used Philly as an example of what can be accomplished in a short time, as expressed in this article. Philly went from 20% live save to 60% in about two years.

A few months ago Winograd attacked PAWS director, Tara Derby and also the head of a private shelter who wanted the city animal services contract.

Nathan never really expressed why he attacked Derby and PAWS' progress under her reign.

I did talk to PAWS previous Chief Operating Officer, Due Cosby, who quit 9 months ago. Back then Sue denied to me that anything was wrong with the Philly operation.

When I more recently emailed her, she said she didn't want to comment.

Anyway, this article points out some of the criticisms of Derby as well as Nathan's complaints. I think there is a lot more going on here than meets the eye or reaches the press. Why is Nathan in such a snit?

Trouble with PACCA's top cat?
By Stu Bykofsky
Philadelphia Daily News

IN THE animal-welfare world, "rescuers" are animal guardian angels, usually individuals or nonprofit groups that "rescue" doomed dogs, cats and other animals from shelters, rehabilitate them and find them homes. When they rescue, they use the term "pull," as in to pull an animal out of the shelter.

Rescue is vitally important to any shelter, but especially to a high-volume shelter, such as Philadelphia's inadequate facility at 111 West Hunting Park Ave., which handles 30,000 dogs and cats annually.

In an interview with me four years ago, Tara Derby, chief executive of the Philadelphia Animal Care and Control Association, acknowledged the importance of rescue groups, many of which were made to feel unwelcome at PACCA by the previous administration. When she took over in April 2005, Derby vowed to work closely with rescue groups, and things have improved. On March 9, PACCA sponsored a party at the shelter to thank its 130 rescue partners, "our best customers," Derby calls them.
But some rescue groups have peeled away, imperiling the lives of some doomed dogs and cats in the shelter.

Several of these groups complained to me about a lack of focus at PACCA, and about confused standards there.

Example: Many rescue groups are tax-exempt nonprofits, registered with the state and known as 501(c)3s. I heard complaints that PACCA says that it will deal only with 501(c)3s, but then hands animals to groups without 501(c)3 paperwork.

Derby admits that "our policy has changed from time to time," resulting in confusion. She prefers to deal with 501(c)3s, but will allow groups without the registration to take animals from the shelter - if they have paperwork from a veterinarian who will vouch for them.

Example: Some rescuers complained that paperwork on dogs being held for them is not always completed when they arrive. Sometimes the animal they have come to collect has been handed to someone else.

Derby says that PACCA sometimes doesn't have the paperwork prepared, due to the volume of animals it handles. In other cases, she says, rescuers may come to the shelter without first calling, thus leading to delay when they arrive. She always prefers to give the animal to the rescue group that can arrive soonest.

The situation with disappointed rescuers came to a boil when community-programs coordinator Meghan Garber left on maternity leave in February. There was no replacement ready to take over the vital role of communicating with rescuers, leading to mass confusion and dogs being put down because no one was calling rescuers to get them out.
When I asked Derby - who readily answered all questions put to her and provided all requested documents - how that could have happened, she gave a long answer that didn't fix the blame. In a separate interview, PACCA's chief operating officer, Doug Rae, hired last August, told me, "I'll take the heat for that."

A plan that he thought was in place to have volunteers fill the breach didn't materialize, which led to several weeks of chaos. The problem was resolved when Natalie Smith, who had been an unpaid volunteer, accepted the hectic, life-saving job of community-programs coordinator.

When management makes a mistake, the buck stops with Derby, 34, who supervises 63 full- and part-time employees, and some 900 volunteers.
Complaints have been leveled against her, the harshest coming from nationally known kennel-management expert Nathan Winograd, who was hired to do a deep analysis of PACCA in February 2005. After turning in his report, which included a blueprint for the future, he approved of Derby's selection to run PACCA despite her lack of shelter experience.

He now thinks Derby should resign.

In e-mail interviews with me, Winograd laid out a bill of particulars.
One Winograd complaint that echoed what I'd heard from many others is that Derby is "never there" at the shelter.

"During Tara's first eight months or so, she was the first one in and the last one to leave," Winograd says.

Last year, Winograd says, Derby "claimed to have endless meetings and so spent little time in the shelter, came in late, left early, spent her time holed in her office."

Rather than respond to individual accusations, Derby says, "I would rather focus my efforts on saving animals than consider why or why not the individual likes me or doesn't like me or supports me or doesn't support me." She says her time off was within normal parameters.

In 2006, Derby took off several weeks after her mother died and her marriage broke up. Since she is not required to punch a time clock, there is no indisputable record of the days and hours she worked.

Without accepting Winograd's assessment, COO Rae, whose office is next to Derby's, says, "Tara is here in the building a lot more than she used to be."

When I laid the allegations of absences before new PACCA Board President John Martini, he was hearing them for the first time. He says that he has a "world of confidence" in Derby, that it would be "very unusual" to ask a CEO to clock in, but if it has become an issue, he says, "it's something [the board] would consider doing."

Winograd also says that the animal save-rate is 50 percent on days Derby is in charge and 70 percent on days when Rae makes the life-and-death calls. Rae declined to comment on Winograd's numbers, but concedes that he and Derby had disagreements about when a dog is too dangerous to be adopted.

"I have an opinion about what an aggressive dog is, Tara has an opinion about what an aggressive dog is, but today we're closer to the center," Rae says.

Without dispute, the save-rate has more than tripled since Derby was hired in 2005, from less than 20 percent to more than 60 percent. When she was hired, Derby's announced goal was to make Philly a "no-kill" city within 10 years. Realistically, that would mean an 85 percent save-rate.

Winograd moans that Philadelphia was "so close" to "no-kill," and actually gives the lion's share of the praise to Rae, even though Rae has been at PACCA only nine months. In fairness, I must add that Winograd has his own fearsome critics.

In the animal-welfare world, finger-pointing is an art form. *

E-mail or call 215-854-5977.

It is obvious that the behaviors cited by Nathan are an indication of severe depression, which is understandable given Derby's mothers death and failed marriage within a few months of each other. What to do about it depends on your perspective. I am very concerned that Nathan attacked Tara so strongly and publically. There are better ways of doing it. I don't know what got into him. Even Boks never pointed a finger at employees. He did point a finger at Mayeda once, and in that case I agreed with him totally.

It sound sto me like there is something personal going on here beyond just her performance. Or, it could be Nathan thinks her performance reflects badly on him and he is publically distancing himself.


Anonymous said...

You were warned over and over to do more research before proclaiming the success of Philly but, oh, no, you fell for anything that came out of Tara's mouth. You went on and on that this was the truth and insulted your readers who tried to tell you. Had you looked for the real proof instead of yelling at others who disagreed with you, you might not look as silly as you are looking now. Learn a lesson, Ed, and dig deeper before opening your mouth to insert your foot. You were wrong about Boks, wrong about Philly, how much does it take to make you realize that you are so gullible. We all want to believe but some of us are very careful because we have seen the Winograds and Boks fall by the wayside for too many years. You might be able to contribute something positive if you just would open your eyes and stop following "no kill" as presented by Winograd and Boks in such a blind fashion. That's all we want you to do, is look for the truth first, not later.

Ed Muzika said...

My God you are a wacko. First you undercut Winograd, then you accept Winograd's evaluation that Derby needs to be replaced.

Second, as the author pointed out, Philly went from 80% kill to 40% in under two years. You don't think that is extraordinary progress? The article's author does not think that is poor progress. I never, ever said Philly was no kill. I stated the same statistics the author did. No one has challenged those statistics including this author or Winograd.

I don't know why you harbor so much irrationa hatred against Winograd and Boks and No-Kill. I just don't get it.

I don't hate Boks, I just like lighting a fire under his feet so that he'll make faster progress or go away.

Indeed, at this point I think he is making good progress but not nearly as much as he should be.

I insulted my readers? How do you conclude that? Even if I were wrong--and I am not--how would my making a mistake insult the reader?

You wany me to insult a reader? How is this? You are a wack job who needs help dealing with a malignant hatred.

Kelley said...

Although I adore Nathan, this concerns me as well. Losing a parent and a spouse in such a short time period would knock anyone for a loop.

I don't think there is anyone who is going to escape tragedy in their lives. I don't know what the answer is. Maybe to have multiple people at the same level of responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but losing a parent and enduring a divorce, even during a tight timeframe, are not excuses for not doing your job or, if you genuinely believe you need some time off, making arrangements for a competent replacement.

Tara Derby knew when she took this job that it was a job for a grown up, and one that brought with it a lot of scrutiny. Did she think she could call a time out when things got rough in her personal life? Did she think that wouldn't result in unnecessary deaths of cats and dogs?

I'm sorry, but people have things go on in their personal lives. That does not mean that they should continue to get paid while not doing their jobs. In the grown-up world you do your job or you quit. And if you voluntarily take a job where the quality of your performance means LITERALLY life or death, you absolutely do the job or you get out.

People's parents die. People get divorced every minute of every day. That does not excuse them from their duties to others. Her contract did not say, "Look after the animals when you feel like it."

If you're THAT depressed, go on disability and find a competent replacement. But don't use depression, or the kinds of calamities that happen to millions of people every day, as an excuse to come in unreliably, hide in your office, and NOT do your job. She wanted the paycheck, but she didn't feel like doing the work -- and there is no reason that excuses letting dogs and cats die because you're depressed.

If she'd done her job properly, maybe the saving of lives might have eased her depression.

Another thing to think about is that 34 is pretty young to be taking on that kind of responsibility. What had Derby accomplished in her comparatively short working life that demonstrated that she was qualified to take on the mammoth responsibility of Animal Care and Control for a city as large as Philadephia?

We need to stop hiring people based on force of personality, AVOWED goals rather than actual accomplishments, and telegenic charm. I know no 34 year-olds who would genuinely, day in and day out, be able to shoulder the responsibility of a large city's animal population.

From what I read here, it doesn't sound like Winograd is in a "snit." I think he, and others, were fooled by an untested candidate for the job, and when she WAS tested, she flunked. The result is that cats and dogs died. If the best that can be said of her now is that "she's showing up more than she used to," she should be fired. Period. This is the big time, and she is clearly not up to the task she accepted.

Ed Muzika said...

The depression is only my guess. If you know better first hand, tell us; if not it is just speculation on both our parts.

It is easy to say she could quit, but if you are in a job with a deep depression--speculation--you don't just resign. That would be another loss.

It is easy to say should for the good or the animals etc., but that is a value judgment, not a real world happening.

We don't really know why Nathan came down on her; he comes down on a lot of people, justifiably or not. No one is talking.

If her assistant is there and is doing a bang up job, there is no immediate need to toss her under the bus.

So say that people lose a mother or father all the time as well as a marriage sounds like you have lost neither--at least recently. Real world people don't shrug these things off. It can take six months to 2 years to get over something like this.

It is a moral dilemma only if my speculation is true.

I understand Boks is hardly ever ib tbe shelter and is doing PR stuff and whatever else. If he gets a bang up AGM of operations things can improve dramatically if her gets out of the way. But apparently he is being restricted to hiring inside the City to avoid a layoff within the City. That kind id cuts his options. Maybe something similar is happening there. Neither of us knows.

Kelley said...


If we could all be as nice to people as we were to animals, the world would be a much better place IMHO.

I'm not sure what her age has to do with anything, either.

There are few people of any age who have accomplished no-kill. Nathan advocates hiring people from outside of the animal "sheltering" community because they aren't part of the culture of failure that is part of the animal "sheltering" community, and I see some sense in that.

Anonymous said...


This does not have anything to do with being nice to people. It has to do with being an adult, and accepting adult responsibilities. How can we expect Marcia Mayeda and Ed Boks to do their jobs and condemn them for NOT doing their jobs and, just because Tara Derby had Winograd's blessing in the beginning, give her a pass when she decides not to do her job?

Part of the reason the Animal Care movement and its activists get no respect is because our approach is frequently unprofessional. We yell and scream and cry and expect people to listen to us. If we genuinely want to save animals we have to show up on time, conduct ourselves in such a way as to inspire respect, and learn how to influence people. Tara Derby had a unique opportunity, as a No-Kill candidate, especially one blessed by Winograd (who, like it or not, is the current face of No-Kill) to make a big, lasting, and persuasive change in a major metropolitan area, and convince people that No-Kill is viable.

What she did was start out good, then blow it, which gives ammunition to EVERY old school kill-shelter faction.

This is not about having no sympathy for someone who is going through a rough time. I'd venture to say everyone you know, everyone who reads this blog, has had comparable situations happen to them at some point. But how many of us had the option to just not show up at work, or show up but hide in your office and not do anything? How long would we have had that job?

It's called being a grownup, something that is increasingly lacking in people's priorities. Tara Derby had bad things going on, but that does not excuse her allowing conditions that resulted in animals dying.

And to be honest with you, if you don't know what age has to do with maturity, and acceptance of the fact that you do not have the right to allow your personal troubles to calamitously affect others, particularly defenseless animals who you accepted the responsibility of protecting, then maybe you haven't yet had the luxury of viewing life through the lens of 20 years, then 30, then 40, etc.

I'm not saying there aren't older people who drop the ball and think only of themselves (Ed Boks...) but in many people there is a maturation process so that, at 40, you understand that the sun does not rise and set with your troubles. Tara Derby clearly has not learned that, and as a result animals died. That is unacceptable.

It as nothing to do with being unkind, or unsympathetic. But if we are going to get lasting change we need to have standards, we need to be reliable, and we need to get the job done. Accusing other people of being unsympathetic because we don't live up to our commitments will absolutely ensure that we fail, that No-Kill will fail, and that more and more animals will die needlessly.

Anonymous said...

And sorry Ed, but to say that people lose parents and marriages all the time IN NO WAY suggests I have lost neither.

I have dealt with quite a bit, from quite an early age, and have learned that my problems are my problems. If there's one thing people with more problems than most learn it is to compartmentalize. We are the ones who listen to people with sporadic problems, and nod sympathetically, all the while knowing that while you want to talk, you would never want to listen, not to someone whose problems are worse, and more ongoing than yours.

But I have never let any creature die because of my problems, and I feel lasting guilt over any undeserved pain I caused when in the throes of difficulties.

That was a facile, shallow, and uncaring thing to say - to accuse someone who expects people to rise above their pain and do the right thing of never having experienced serious pain or loss. That's the sort of thing that lets people who have true, ongoing pain know that people who have sporadic pain cannot be trusted.

Ed Muzika said...


I have no idea whether Tara was/is depressed and because of that did not show up at work.

This was a speculation only.

It too is only speculation that she wass never there. That too, is only an opinion held by a few people the reporter talked to.

As the article says, there was no time clock and the second in command said she was there a lot more than prople think.

It was a speculation therefore that she was not there and not functioning due to depression.

You just accepted my speculation and ran with it as if true and went on a rant about your experience and how people should act, and you did so judgmentally.

GMs are not always hands on, like Boks; they do a lot of PR, and they may have a great second in command as Tara does in Philly.

To say there is a kill rate of 50% when she is there and 70% when she is away may be a disgruntled employee or it may be true. You don't know and I don't know.

You and those like you who look at a situation and judge what should be done when you don't even know the facts, just assuming what I said is true and accept employees' comments that Tara is never there may be jumping to conclusions which are not supported by facts.

Then your judgmemt that if all is true, she should quit is merely your opinion and that does not appear to be happening.

If you are a volunteer in Philly, that is a different story, and maybe you can share you observations.

Your assumptions that age brings maturity, which brings responsibility, really is just talking about your own values.

From my viewpoint if a person does not have the maturity you speak of by 35, they never will.

Maybe you are just talking about yourself and your values are not realistic in the real world.

You cannot pull all of the real world into your value world or you will be chronically disapointed.

Besides, Tara and Sue took Pjilly from 80% kill to 40% in two years and the numbers hold at that level.

It has taken LAAS ten years to match this, and although their winter save rate is almost the same as Philly's they only approach that number for a whole year.

Anonymous said...

Ed, although it's clear that you enjoy your bully pulpit, I will once again simply try to make what I believe is an uncontroversial point.

My "values" are that people who have a serious mission behave seriously. I did not "rant" as you so unkindly and untruthfully put it, I said that if you have a serious job you should behave professionally, particularly if you know that not doing so will result in lives being lost.

And you can hardly suggest that someone is exhibiting symptoms of depression, then rail against others for making logical conclusions about a logical assumption. It wasn't me, but a PACCA employee who said, in apparent mitigation of the allegations against Derby, that "she's there a lot more than she used to be," which only in the Animal Care world is acceptable.

I have tremendous sympathy for the pain of others, that is why I adopt animals, and voluntarily care for even more.

But you sit here, all day, every day, bemoaning the fact that all the righteousness of the L.A. rescue community gets no respect and makes precious little change. My point is that personal emotion is only a small part of making effective change. The part that will make actual change, the part that will convert people who love animals into activists for their care, is behaving as if you have enough respect for your beliefs to back them up with respectable behavior and actions. It takes nothing to yell at Boks' house. It takes quite a bit more to write letters, schedule meetings, show up and be persuasive to a bunch of people who only care whether this issue will keep them from being re-elected, and, as Brad Jensen does, crunch the numbers to refute bogus claims by shelter bureaucrats.

Change is never going to happen when our only tool is emotion. You ask repeatedly why this City doesn't take animal issues seriously, but then you defend a woman who had the most serious animal care job in Philadelphia, and who just stopped doing her job. That’s not my allegation, it’s a newspaper story.

They don't respect us because they see that we think being sad is an acceptable excuse for not doing your job. Either animal care is a job or it isn't. Like it or not, the appearance here is that you still this it isn't an actual grownup job. WHY should anyone trust the rescue community to come up with a credible candidate for a 165K City job when we still tell everyone we think being depressed is a legitimate reason not to do the most important animal care job in the city? You know what they hear, what the LOGICAL conclusion is? That we fundamentally believe animals only matter when you’re feeling good.

I’m okay with "being judgmental" about whether or not someone shows up to do their job when cats and dogs will die if they don't. And really Ed, you’re accusing OTHERS of being judgmental?

It should be funny, but somehow it's not. I’ve noticed that the people who are quickest to accuse others of being judgmental and unkind frequently have issues in that area themselves. I have seen you be unkind before. And, as unpleasant as it is to be the butt of it here, I stand by my contention that we will get nowhere in our fight for proper animal care until we start acting responsibly and respectfully whether we feel like it or not.