As for the Schenectady County SPCA’s campaign against the Animal Protective Foundation and its Glenville shelter, it’s more war-like than I realized.
At first I thought this was just part of a minor kerfuffle between two equally well-intentioned animal welfare organizations. Then I got hold of a letter written by the SPCA founder, Mathew Tully, to the chair of the foundation’s board of directors, which I quoted from the other day, and it gave quite a different impression, threatening to relegate the foundation “solely to the history books” by taking over the functions that the shelter provides if the shelter doesn’t come to heel, and also raising the specter of a “hostile takeover.”
Read the letter and emails by clicking HERE
It was the tone of the thing as much as the content that was striking. It was bullying, blustering and belligerent, in dramatic contrast to the Mathew Tully I knew, who had been friendly and solicitous toward me since founding his SPCA a few years ago and eager to impress upon me his charitableness toward people as well as dogs.
Now I have in my possession still more letters and emails that he has sent to the foundation since proposing that they be his “sole source funding provider” back in 2008 (which we didn’t know about at the time), and it’s like I am experiencing two different people — Mat Tully, fair-minded lawyer and animal-lover with whom I broke bread (or rice) at a Thai restaurant, and Mat Tully, bellicose commander mounting a quasi-military campaign against a dire enemy, a dire enemy that exists only in his imagination, since it is nothing more than a nonprofit animal shelter that takes in dogs and cats surrendered by owners who can no longer care for them. A shelter that is not equipped to handle the many stray dogs that wander the streets of Schenectady, or the 44 cats, for example, that Tully and his volunteers “rescue” from some overburdened cat-lover in Rotterdam.
That’s all it is. Not a mean bone to be found on the premises, unless it’s in the abandoned pit bulls that fill its kennels. Mild-mannered, modestly paid, middle-aged women — unarmed, as far as I could tell on a visit — taking care of unwanted animals.
At my request they did provide me with copies of Tully’s correspondence, but I throw myself on the judgment of the readers as to whether that makes me their puppet, as was claimed by a commenter on our website who sounded very much like Tully himself but who identified himself only as “whoknows.”
He called my earlier column “an APF smear with Carl as a puppet,” APF standing for Animal Protective Foundation, and interpreted his (Tully’s) original letter that I had quoted as simply meaning, “you guys are messing with the SPCA and the SPCA isnt going to let you pick on us anymore without us punching back,” in which I must say he reminded me of our old friend Steve Raucci from the
Schenectady school district, who also imagined himself in a defensive war against ruthless enemies.
I called Tully and asked him if he knew who “whoknows” is, and he coyly replied, “Who knows?”
“Is it you?”
“Who knows?” again.
I wondered because I was chagrined at being called a puppet and even more chagrined at whoknows’ assertion that “the APF has many full time people to kiss Carl’s ass,” whereas in fact no one at the foundation had ever been nearly as solicitous of me as he had been himself, nor had ever even called me.
Such a low accusation to make behind a false name.
Well, next month he will deploy to Afghanistan as a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard, and I hope at least that his approach to problem-solving will fit well there.
Last month after an incident in which the shelter would not accept animals he had rescued, he wrote to his followers, “The SPCA needs to stand up to the juggernaut that is the APF and expose the problems otherwise a solution will never be found. … As you all know, I can’t fight this problem because I will be fighting the Taliban but I hope when I return the situation here in Schenectady will be different. I hope that the SPCA doesn’t succumb to efforts to reach a settlement with the APF. … I hope that you all support Mary, Jean and Frank as they take on the APF in an aggressive campaign to counter the propaganda. … It will be a ‘guerrilla marketing’ campaign to fix the problems and expose the lies about protecting animals in Schenectady County.”
And doesn’t that exactly sound like an officer rallying troops in Kandahar province? Enemy juggernaut. Not succumb to the temptations of a settlement. Aggressive campaign. Guerrilla something or other.
I asked him, by the way, who Mary, Jean and Frank are, and he wouldn’t say.
Strangely enough, a copy of this memo went to the enemy, the Animal Protective Foundation itself. A breakdown in security, maybe.
The foundation’s shelter, on Maple Avenue in Glenville — you can drive by and see for yourself — has no gun emplacements, no fortifications, nothing, so it’s a little different from what he will find in Afghanistan or what he earlier found in Iraq, when he was a division chief of operations in the dangerous “Sunni triangle.”
Now, I quote from his correspondence selectively, of course, to make my points, but lest “whoknows” or anyone else thinks I quote unfairly or “out of context,” the original documents are posted on our website, and you can read them there in their entirety, following a link from my column.
As for enemy propaganda and the waging of a guerrilla marketing campaign, he had this to say to his followers on Jan. 8 after a letter to the editor appeared in this newspaper, written by a shelter volunteer: “PLEASE DON’T RESPOND TO THIS LETTER TO THE EDITOR — IT’S NOT WORTH IT — WE HAVE BIGGER FISH TO FRY SO TO SPEAK … Round 2 anybody? (Rounds 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 are all ready to be launched) Hahaha thanks to everybody who responded this past week about APF. … We need to keep the media interested in this story — the APF’s weak counter attack will keep doing that because they will smell blood in the water/controversy which is what sell newspaper [sic] and which keeps the media attention on this problem!! I doubt the APF realizes that counterattacking is helping us get attention for the next round!”
Yes, the enemy’s counterattack actually helps. Shrewd tactics on the part of a commander.
Can anything be done defensively, or counteroffensively?
Well, the Animal Protective Foundation hired a lawyer, Sal Ferlazzo, to threaten Tully with a defamation lawsuit for all his bad-mouthing of them, and this is how he responded: “Bring it! … I love litigation!!! I especially love litigation that I will win!! I hope you back up your rhetoric with actions! In the spirit of the Christmas Story ‘I double dog dare ya!’ ”
Why? Because then he could engage in what lawyers call discovery and rummage through 30 years’ worth of APF files and records. Good tactics.
He’ll tell you that all he wants is a friendly agreement with the foundation, the better to care for animals, but you can see for yourself that this is war, baby.
Last month he wrote to the foundation director, the amiable Rosalie Ault, referring to “the pawns in your blitzkrieg assault,” an assault that existed only in his imagination, since the foundation has been purely on the defensive as he relentlessly assaults them.
When Ms. Ault left two pit bull puppies at the Schenectady police station last week, precipitating the latest outbursts, he not only wanted her arrested, he wanted the offense of abandoning an animal elevated to a felony when committed by an animal welfare worker. He further suggested, “If the APF official is arrested the proposed law should be called by his/her name just like Buster’s Law.” In other words, Rosalie’s Law.
War is the thing — breaking the will of an enemy and sending him to the ashcan of history.
Clearly Lt. Col. Tully’s abilities are under-utilized in a campaign against a harmless animal shelter in Glenville, and I for one am glad he is deploying to Afghanistan. Our country needs people there with his proclivities. Wouldn’t it be something if he could dispatch the Taliban to the ashcan of history?