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ASPCA Cruelty Intervention Advocacy Program Helps Animal Hoarders

New initiative allows Humane Law Enforcement agents to manage hoarding cases & protect animals in jeopardy
January 19, 2011

NEW YORK--The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) has launched a Cruelty Intervention Advocacy program to assist its Humane Law Enforcement (HLE) agents with animal hoarding cases and to protect companion animals that are in danger of potential abuse or neglect throughout the five boroughs of New York City.

"The ASPCA created the program to assist HLE agents who come across investigations that fall short of animal cruelty, but nonetheless place animals in jeopardy of becoming cruelty victims," said Stacy Wolf, vice president and chief legal counsel for the ASPCA's Humane Law Enforcement department.  "Once our agents investigate a situation and determine that it's not a criminal case, the Cruelty Intervention Advocacy team steps in to work with pet owners and HLE agents to ensure that the animals are properly cared for through education, spay/neuter services, and financial aid."

The Cruelty Intervention Advocacy team works collaboratively with HLE agents, social workers, and other local animal welfare agencies to reduce the number of animal hoarding cases in New York City and to prevent these cases from escalating into major crises that could become public health concerns.  To date, the ASPCA's new program has assisted more than 20 animal hoarders and rescued nearly 200 animals.

"Our goal is to resolve animal hoarding cases in a non-criminal matter where appropriate and address other issues that jeopardize the well-being of the animals," said Fiona Knight, director of the ASPCA Cruelty Intervention Advocacy program.  "The two main challenges we face are the sheer number of animals we're dealing with, and working with hoarders who are unable to realize that their animals are suffering due to lack of care.  Taking away their animals is not always an effective solution, and our program fills in the gap by closely monitoring each incident to stop it from spiraling out of control."

Animals that are surrendered by hoarders to the Cruelty Intervention Advocacy team are often transferred to the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital where they are spayed or neutered, and re-homed through the ASPCA Adoption Center and various shelter and rescue partners both within and outside New York City.  

Additionally, the Cruelty Intervention Advocacy program provides "Partners in Caring" grants to help disadvantaged pet owners who receive public assistance to provide medical care for animals in dire need.  The program also requires pet owners to spay or neuter their remaining pets at no cost through the ASPCA's Mobile Spay Neuter Clinics.

Through investigations, citations and arrests, the ASPCA's HLE department upholds and enforces New York State animal cruelty laws in the five boroughs of New York City.  In 2010, the ASPCA investigated approximately 4,000 reported complaints of animal cruelty, resulting in 51 arrests and rescued nearly 400 animals in jeopardy by joint efforts of the HLE agents and Cruelty Intervention Advocacy team.  For more information on the HLE department, please click here.