News

Pets in Need Executive Director Al Mollica to resign

Decision comes on the heels of announcement to end partnership with city of Palo Alto

Al Mollica speaks at a "shelter warming" event to mark the transition of Palo Alto animal shelter operations to Pets In Need on March 7, 2019. Photo by Veronica Weber.

Al Mollica, the executive director of beleaguered animal advocacy organization Pets in Need, will resign, the nonprofit confirmed Thursday.

His decision to leave comes during a tumultuous period for the 55-year-old animal rescue organization, which was rocked three months ago after seven puppies died in an overheated, poorly ventilated van. Twenty other dogs survived but required treatment for heat exhaustion after a transport rescue from the Central Valley on Aug. 2. A lone guinea pig, which was kept in the passenger compartment with three staff members in air conditioning, was not affected.

Palo Alto police announced on Oct. 26 that the three managers who brought the dogs to the Palo Alto Animal Shelter at 3281 E. Bayshore Road were being charged with failing to give proper care and attention to an animal and animal cruelty, inhuman transportation of an animal by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. Since then, Pets in Need (PIN) has come under intense public scrutiny.

The organization's public responses, often attributed to Mollica, have been notably resentful of the Police Department's involvement and scathingly critical of the city of Palo Alto, which hired Pets in Need in 2018 to take over operations at the city-owned shelter. On Nov. 15, Mollica informed the city that Pets in Need would terminate its contract and cease services at the Palo Alto shelter at the end of 2022, blaming the city for failing in its contractual agreements to upgrade the facility.

The city has denied those allegations, saying it spent $1.5 million to upgrade the medical suites and has added multiple improvements to the kennels. The city has completed the new kennel building design and is in the process of purchasing the new kennels, the city said in a Nov. 16 statement.

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Another bombshell dropped on Thursday morning after word came out that Mollica would leave.

He "has informed the organization of his intention to resign. PIN's board and Al are currently working out details including the exact date of his departure. The board will be meeting over the next few days to determine an interim management structure, plans for the recruitment of a new executive director, and other important transitional items," the organization said in an email statement.

"The organization will have more information to share early next week. As always, Pets in Need appreciates the continuing support we continue to receive from the community for our important work," the organization said.

Redwood City-based Pets in Need began its relationship with the city after the City Council unanimously approved a deal with the organization in late November 2018 to take over animal services, including management of the city's shelter.

Under a five-year contract, the city agreed to pay $3.7 million to Pets In Need, which took over operations in January 2019. Palo Alto also agreed to pay $3.4 million for capital improvements, including an expanded medical suite, 16 new dog kennels and a modular office and classroom. The improvements were designed to keep the aged shelter functional while Pets In Need worked to secure funding through a multiyear campaign to build a new facility. The city completed construction of the shelter's medical suite in September 2020 but rebuilding the new kennels faced a funding gap of about $500,000, according to city staff.

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In March 2020, Pets in Need closed its shelter due to shelter-in-place orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. It transformed into a remote operation with a pared-down staff to continue providing shelter and medical services.

The shelter reopened to the public in June 2021 as Santa Clara County relaxed public health restrictions on businesses.

Mollica has been Pets in Need's executive director since 2014, according to his LinkedIn page. His responsibilities include planning and implementing the organization's strategic plan; budget preparation and oversight; fundraising and communications management; achievement of financial objectives; and adherence to existing policies and procedures. He is also principal of Mollica Consulting Group, which offers professional consultation services to nonprofit organizations.

Prior to Pets in Need, he was the executive director of the Delaware SPCA for one year and chief interim officer and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia for five years.

Mollica could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Pets in Need Executive Director Al Mollica to resign

Decision comes on the heels of announcement to end partnership with city of Palo Alto

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Nov 18, 2021, 1:53 pm

Al Mollica, the executive director of beleaguered animal advocacy organization Pets in Need, will resign, the nonprofit confirmed Thursday.

His decision to leave comes during a tumultuous period for the 55-year-old animal rescue organization, which was rocked three months ago after seven puppies died in an overheated, poorly ventilated van. Twenty other dogs survived but required treatment for heat exhaustion after a transport rescue from the Central Valley on Aug. 2. A lone guinea pig, which was kept in the passenger compartment with three staff members in air conditioning, was not affected.

Palo Alto police announced on Oct. 26 that the three managers who brought the dogs to the Palo Alto Animal Shelter at 3281 E. Bayshore Road were being charged with failing to give proper care and attention to an animal and animal cruelty, inhuman transportation of an animal by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office. Since then, Pets in Need (PIN) has come under intense public scrutiny.

The organization's public responses, often attributed to Mollica, have been notably resentful of the Police Department's involvement and scathingly critical of the city of Palo Alto, which hired Pets in Need in 2018 to take over operations at the city-owned shelter. On Nov. 15, Mollica informed the city that Pets in Need would terminate its contract and cease services at the Palo Alto shelter at the end of 2022, blaming the city for failing in its contractual agreements to upgrade the facility.

The city has denied those allegations, saying it spent $1.5 million to upgrade the medical suites and has added multiple improvements to the kennels. The city has completed the new kennel building design and is in the process of purchasing the new kennels, the city said in a Nov. 16 statement.

Another bombshell dropped on Thursday morning after word came out that Mollica would leave.

He "has informed the organization of his intention to resign. PIN's board and Al are currently working out details including the exact date of his departure. The board will be meeting over the next few days to determine an interim management structure, plans for the recruitment of a new executive director, and other important transitional items," the organization said in an email statement.

"The organization will have more information to share early next week. As always, Pets in Need appreciates the continuing support we continue to receive from the community for our important work," the organization said.

Redwood City-based Pets in Need began its relationship with the city after the City Council unanimously approved a deal with the organization in late November 2018 to take over animal services, including management of the city's shelter.

Under a five-year contract, the city agreed to pay $3.7 million to Pets In Need, which took over operations in January 2019. Palo Alto also agreed to pay $3.4 million for capital improvements, including an expanded medical suite, 16 new dog kennels and a modular office and classroom. The improvements were designed to keep the aged shelter functional while Pets In Need worked to secure funding through a multiyear campaign to build a new facility. The city completed construction of the shelter's medical suite in September 2020 but rebuilding the new kennels faced a funding gap of about $500,000, according to city staff.

In March 2020, Pets in Need closed its shelter due to shelter-in-place orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. It transformed into a remote operation with a pared-down staff to continue providing shelter and medical services.

The shelter reopened to the public in June 2021 as Santa Clara County relaxed public health restrictions on businesses.

Mollica has been Pets in Need's executive director since 2014, according to his LinkedIn page. His responsibilities include planning and implementing the organization's strategic plan; budget preparation and oversight; fundraising and communications management; achievement of financial objectives; and adherence to existing policies and procedures. He is also principal of Mollica Consulting Group, which offers professional consultation services to nonprofit organizations.

Prior to Pets in Need, he was the executive director of the Delaware SPCA for one year and chief interim officer and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Philadelphia for five years.

Mollica could not immediately be reached for comment.

Comments

Jennifer
Registered user
another community
on Nov 18, 2021 at 2:22 pm
Jennifer, another community
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2021 at 2:22 pm

Resigning is the right thing to do. You know what rolls down hill. I hope and pray this never happens again. These poor little animals deserve better and so does Palo Alto.


Karen
Registered user
Mountain View
on Nov 18, 2021 at 2:41 pm
Karen, Mountain View
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2021 at 2:41 pm

I had been a long time supporter and contributor to Pets in Need, but after the recent events, I will turn my support to other humane organizations.


Heckity
Registered user
Barron Park
on Nov 18, 2021 at 3:24 pm
Heckity, Barron Park
Registered user
on Nov 18, 2021 at 3:24 pm

Pretty certain the resignation wasn’t voluntary. Let’s move forward from City/non-profit bickering and serve the animals, who should be the primary concern.


Michelledb
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Nov 19, 2021 at 10:28 am
Michelledb, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2021 at 10:28 am

I am glad he resigned. On a different note - PA was going to pay 3 million plus to renovate and then the building was going to be torn down? I don’t understand. PA presumably owns the land so why not just re-build now. The building is not huge and I cannot imagine that it will be more than 3-4 million to just build (without land cost). The current plan seems beyond wasteful.


Local Resident
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2021 at 10:36 am
Local Resident, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2021 at 10:36 am

Good riddance! Now maybe they can focus on Palo Alto and the surrounding cities instead of trying to serve Northern California.


Cat Mom Leonorilda
Registered user
Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2021 at 11:25 am
Cat Mom Leonorilda, Barron Park
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2021 at 11:25 am

It is high time that the City reverse its policy of lack of concern for the animals in our community. Had the City stepped up to the task years ago and gave a modicum of importance for the animals in our community, our pets, our abandoned animals, our strays, the health of local animals in terms of providing low-cost spay-neuter options and low-cost vaccination clinics, rather than "outsourcing," this outcome would have never transpired. (Pets In Need, by the way, used city funding to spay and neuter only the animals in the shelter, many of whom were from out of the area, and completely ignored local community residents, including low-income people who needed help with vaccinations and spay-neuter surgeries; the organization, as well, did not heed to the needs of the pet rescue community in the cities it was supposed to serve.) Palo Alto is noted for di$bur$ing huge $um$ to overpaid "contractors" including spending millions on useless and dangerous roundabouts and ignoring the real needs of the community, and especially the many of us who are concerned about animal welfare. It is amazing that in a community as wealthy as Palo Alto, animals (who cannot express their needs) are consigned the dregs at the bottom of the erstwhile barrel along with the people who care about them and their welfare. Cry shame, folks! The only people who behaved within the spirit of animal welfare and obeyed the letter as well as the spirit of the law are the animal control officers who insisted on a police investigation into the death of those poor maltreated puppies by an organization that was supposed to "care" about animals. Thank you for caring... if not, the whole issue would have been "swept under the rug."


Heckity
Registered user
Barron Park
on Nov 19, 2021 at 12:05 pm
Heckity, Barron Park
Registered user
on Nov 19, 2021 at 12:05 pm

Well said, Cat Mom. And the Animal Control Officer who called for the investigation was maligned by Al Mollica for requesting it. Al Mollica said that the ACOs weren't "veterinarians or behaviorists." Yeah, I guess their primary concern was animal welfare -- imagine that.


TheNif
Registered user
Palo Verde School
on Nov 21, 2021 at 5:05 pm
TheNif, Palo Verde School
Registered user
on Nov 21, 2021 at 5:05 pm

When a number of staff in an organization are willing to put their names on paper and submit a carefully documented set of accusations about an Executive Director to the Board of that organization, then you know there is a serious problem internally. (They wisely copied the City as well, so that the Board had no choice but to act.) Al Mollica had to go. His remarks to the press and his attacks on the City showed a total lack of understanding of his role and clearly his staff do not respect him. My experience with Pets in Need was that the staff were conscientious and caring; I truly cannot understand how this tragedy happened.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 21, 2021 at 5:21 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Nov 21, 2021 at 5:21 pm

Echoing Cat Mom. The prices for spay/neutering by vets have soared so the lack of these services from the city cost each new pet owner between $500 and $1,200.

People wasted hours looking for low-cost alternatives, weighing the trafeoffs of going to an unknown doctor AND staying in a hotel. When one of the local groups finally re-instated those services it was only for certain San Jose zip codes!


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