The ASPCA ® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ®) is announcing a groundbreaking, multi-year initiative to significantly improve the quality of life for New York City’s most vulnerable animals. Building on the strong foundation created by the success of its existing partnerships across the city, the ASPCA’s new initiative will increase the organization’s capacity to care for victims of animal cruelty and expand vital services to underserved pet owners and animal rescue organizations. Beyond the direct impact in New York City, the ASPCA’s efforts will serve as a foundation for research and the development of new medical and behavior diagnostic and treatment protocols, which the organization will share throughout the veterinary and animal sheltering fields to elevate animal welfare efforts across the country.
“The ASPCA is deepening its commitment to helping the most vulnerable animals and their owners by increasing the availability of crucial veterinary resources to pet owners in need and by successfully rehabilitating and rehoming more victims of cruelty,” said ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker.
The ASPCA is committing more than $45 million to build the infrastructure, in addition to the ongoing operating expenses, needed to support the three major elements of the initiative:
1. Improving access to basic veterinary care for low-income pet owners.
Responding to the fact that more than 22 million dogs and cats nationwide are living in poverty, the organization will build a network of ASPCA Community Veterinary Centers across New York City to provide low-income pet owners in underserved communities with access to basic veterinary care, including vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery. The ASPCA Community Veterinary Centers will also treat homeless dogs and cats being cared for by animal rescue organizations, expanding the ASPCA’s services to the animal rescue community. The new centers will have a meaningful, direct impact on tens of thousands of animals each year. Additionally, the Community Veterinary Centers will yield critical insights that shorten both diagnostic and treatment protocols. These new protocols will be proven, tested and then shared with the animal welfare community and veterinary professionals, helping to make basic veterinary care more affordable and accessible nationwide. The first ASPCA Community Veterinary Center is scheduled to open in the Bronx in late fall 2019, followed by Brooklyn in 2020 and Manhattan in 2021. The new centers are generously supported by lead gifts from the following donors: Barbara Dauphin-Duthuit (Bronx), The Alex and Elisabeth Lewyt Charitable Trust (Brooklyn) and Rachael Ray™ Nutrish® (Manhattan).
2. Effectively addressing the complex needs of animal cruelty victims housed in shelters around the country.
The organization will build the ASPCA Recovery and Rehabilitation Center, an approximately 50,000 sq. ft. facility in the Hudson Valley, which will provide state-of-the-art behavioral and medical interventions to effectively shelter, rehabilitate and rehome canine victims of cruelty and neglect. The new facility will allow the ASPCA to more than double its current capacity to care for the animals helped through the ASPCA’s partnership with the New York Police Department (NYPD). Many of the dogs who are rescued through the partnership exhibit behavior and medical challenges as a result of the abuse and neglect they’ve suffered, which can limit their placement options. At the ASPCA Recovery and Rehabilitation Center, the ASPCA will design and launch studies on how to most effectively resolve behavior problems commonly manifested in victims of acute physical violence, emotional trauma and severe neglect, and these new tools will be shared with the animal welfare community through the ASPCA Learning Lab Program at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Weaverville, N.C.
In addition, in New York City, the ASPCA will conduct groundbreaking research aimed at helping behaviorally-challenged cats become successful candidates for adoption. These efforts combined will enable the ASPCA to produce and share insights to better address the complex behavioral needs of animal cruelty victims housed in shelters around the country.
3. Renovating the ASPCA Animal Hospital to maximize capacity and enhance patient care.
With a strong network of ASPCA Community Veterinary Centers in multiple boroughs and a dedicated facility for the longer-term rehabilitation of animal cruelty victims in place, the ASPCA will renovate the ASPCA Animal Hospital to maximize its capacity and optimize medical services. Changes to the space will enhance the ASPCA’s ability to provide critical inpatient care to animal cruelty victims as well as to owned animals from low-income households who require hospitalization, advanced diagnostic testing, and complex surgical and dental procedures. These patients will be primarily referred through the ASPCA’s new network of Community Veterinary Centers, partner veterinarians, Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC), the ASPCA’s community engagement efforts and its partnership with the NYPD.
“Taken together, these large-scale measures will reinforce New York City’s position as one of the most humane communities in the country and provide us with new insights that can make a lifesaving difference for shelters, animals, and communities nationwide,” said Bershadker.
“The ASPCA’s expansion of free and low-cost veterinary care to animals will bring much needed relief to New Yorkers’ pets in the South Bronx, upper Manhattan, and East New York,” said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. “These clinics will also reduce the burden on our city’s animal shelters by preventing pet surrenders from owners who can’t access basic veterinary care for their pets. Thanks to the ASPCA’s continued leadership, we are taking significant strides toward becoming a city where New Yorkers can get access to the care their pets need to thrive.”
ASPCA research shows that a lack of affordable veterinary care and limited access to spay/neuter services are primary contributors to pet relinquishment and that many of these challenges can be effectively alleviated with minimal resources. Responding to these insights, the ASPCA has piloted mobile veterinary care clinics in the Bronx and East New York and provides services to the animal rescue community through its spay/neuter clinic in Glendale, N.Y. The ASPCA also operates a fleet of mobile spay/neuter clinics to provide low-cost, high quality spay/neuter surgery to pet owners in all five boroughs and has performed nearly 500,000 surgeries in New York City since launching more than twenty years ago. In addition, the ASPCA has launched programs and partnerships in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami that make veterinary care more accessible and affordable for owners at risk of relinquishing their pets.
In New York City, the ASPCA’s partnership with the NYPD has been a critical part of protecting the city’s animals. Over 700 cruelty arrests have been made, and more than 3,300 animal victims have been brought to the ASPCA for treatment since the partnership began in 2014. In that time, the NYPD has also formed its own Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad and launched a mobile command post devoted exclusively to animal cruelty cases.
As a complement to its partnership with the NYPD, the ASPCA Community Engagement program works with the NYPD and other city agencies to support pet owners in need by arranging veterinary care and providing pet supplies as well as addressing cases of hoarding and neglect. The ASPCA has also developed successful partnerships with human services organizations including Food Bank For New York City, which has distributed approximately 400,000 pet food meals to pet owners in need since partnering with the ASPCA at the end of 2017.