The last Tuesday of every February is World Spay Day. To celebrate this day—and highlight the life-saving importance of spay/neuter services—we checked in with some of the ASPCA’s own Spay/Neuter Advocates who are on the ground every day making a difference in the lives of animals and their families.
On a recent, frigid January morning in East Harlem, ASPCA community advocates Selena Edwards and Arturo Arana visited Theresa J. to check on her eight-month-old pit bull, Coco, who had been spayed two weeks before.
Selena and Arturo first met Theresa and Coco last September. They offered a free ID tag for Coco, whom Theresa had adopted from a friend. Theresa considered letting Coco have “just one litter,” but decided to have her spayed after being encouraged by Selena and Arturo.
Coco is one of thousands of owned dogs and cats who live in high poverty areas with limited access to veterinary care and or other pet resources, and where pets are most at risk of neglect, cruelty, relinquishment to shelters, and euthanasia.
But with focused initiatives, the ASPCA is concentrating its attention on pets—like Coco—most at risk.
ASPCA CARES (Community, Advocacy, Resources, Enrichment, and Service) employs advocates who visit communities one city block at a time to ensure every resident or family on that block has the opportunity to take advantage of the ASPCA’s free and low-cost services.
Their dedication pays off. In 2014, the ASPCA provided 3,782 spay/neuter surgeries in New York and 3,359 in Los Angeles. These numbers comprise 16 percent of the ASPCA’s 2014 total of 42,584 spay/neuter surgeries, more than ever before in a single year in the organization’s 148-year history.*
Christopher Keith and Desire Menendez, community advocates who canvas the Claremont Village area of the Bronx, go door-to-door in the Morris Houses, a public housing complex comprising several blocks. Across the country, community advocate Elizabeth Gamboa knocks on doors in South L.A. Like her counterparts in NYC, Elizabeth offers free ID tags in addition to information on spay/neuter services, and the many benefits they provide
“Our community advocates engage residents in a very grassroots way—knocking on doors and introducing themselves,” says Jocelyn Kessler, Director of Operations for the ASPCA Spay/Neuter Operations team. “They build trust with residents to improve the quality of lives for both the animals and the people who care for them.”
ASPCA advocates Lisa DeLarios and Isadora Peraza-Martinez regularly visit neighborhoods in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx. “We meet a lot of pets that are related and that helps spread the word,” says Isadora. “In one building, all of the cats were from the same source—they were all ‘Bubbles’ babies,” said Lisa.
Lisa and Isadora convinced Bubbles’ owner to have her spayed, and even transported the black and white tuxedo cat to the ASPCA on January 14 for pre-surgery blood work. They are now targeting other cats and dogs in the building.
Margie O., a client in the Bronx, welcomes Chris and Desire each time they visit with home-made corn cakes. Although Margie has undergone two open-heart surgeries and is raising her five-year-old granddaughter, she made sure all of her dogs were altered with the ASPCA’s help.
As Chris says, “If that doesn’t motivate you, what does?”
*The ASPCA provided 16,602 surgeries to NYC residents within the targeted areas via its mobile spay/neuter clinics, which have been providing free and low-cost spay/neuter since 1997. Two stationary clinics in New York—at 92nd Street in Manhattan and in Glendale, Queens—serve the rescue community, ASPCA Adoption Center, Animal Care & Control of NYC, Community Intervention Advocacy (CIA) clients, and Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs—and have doubled their capacity, with 18,840 surgeries last year. The ASPCA also provided 225 grants totaling over $3.7 million dollars to other organizations nationwide for spay/neuter.
More than 120 cats and dogs braved chilly temperatures for free vaccines and microchips during a “Community Pet Party” hosted by the ASPCA and the NYPD’s 49th Precinct on Saturday, November 15 at Bronx Park East in the Bronx, New York.
Longtime Bronx resident Ceferino Miranda was one of the first in line with his Westie, Chiquita, one of three dogs he brought. He found Chiquita in the streets and now cares for five dogs. “I was going to get all their vaccines earlier this month,” said the Vietnam veteran, “but I fell short.”
Pets also received free ID tags, ASPCA fleece blankets, and Halo pet food provided by Freekibble. Some residents also received dog houses.
“For many animal owners, getting basic resources for their pets can be difficult, so we want to do all we can to help, especially as winter approaches,” said Colleen Doherty, manager of the ASPCA’s Cruelty Intervention Advocacy team, which staffed and promoted the event. New York City’s Office of Emergency Management gave out free flashlights and information on including pets in emergency preparedness plans.
Detective Victor DiPierro of the 49th Precinct said he was glad to see people “taking advantage of these free services.”
One of them, Althea Hall, sat with Dynasty, a nine-year-old Rottweiler with a glistening coat. “She used to be my daughter’s,” said Althea, explaining how she once cared for Dynasty and got attached. “She’s mine now, and I want to do right by her.”
Nearby, Shadow, a five-year-old black cat, poked her head through the top of her carrier, blinking and soaking in the fall sunshine, before hunkering back down. When it was time for her vaccines, siblings Starlyza and Ricco Medina carried Shadow into the ASPCA vehicle designated for cats.
For the seventh year in a row, the ASPCA has been selected to participate in the Subaru “Share the Love” event, which kicks off today, November 20, and runs through January 2, 2015. For every new vehicle sold or leased between November 20, 2014 and January 2, 2015, Subaru will donate $250 to the purchaser’s choice among four national charity partners or local Hometown Charity selected by participating retailers, with a minimum guaranteed donation of $250,000 to each national charity.
Since 2008, Subaru has donated more than $9 million to the ASPCA through this event, thanks to all the Subaru customers and ASPCA supporters, like you, who chose the ASPCA when they purchased or leased a new vehicle. Now, you have the chance to support and spread the word for us once again this year!
Please help us spread the word about the ASPCA’s participation in the annual Subaru “Share the Love” event! Bring a friend along to an adoption event near you, tweet a photo of you and your pet using the hashtag #aspcaSTL, and be sure to tag @aspca and @Subaru_usa.
Guest blog by Jessica Johnson, Senior Manager of Grassroots Advocacy for ASPCA Government Relations.
Are you interested in learning more about key animal-protection issues? Want to find out how you can do more to help the animals in your area? If so, please join me and my fellow ASPCA experts for our free December Webinar Series, where we will discuss several important areas of animal legislation, what has been accomplished, and what work still needs to be done!
Cost of Care Legislation: Empowering Rescue Agencies and Getting Animals Out of Limbo Wednesday, December 10 6:30 P.M. ET (1 hour) Presenters: Debora Bresch, Senior State Legislative Director, Mid-Atlantic Region; Chloe Waterman, Senior Manager, State Legislative Strategy
One of the largest obstacles facing abused animals today is that it costs so much to care for them while cruelty charges are pursued following their rescue. Law enforcement may be reluctant to assume this burden, and local shelters with limited resources may be forced to. Animal victims can remain in shelters for months—or even years—as their cruelty cases wind through the court system. Through this Cost of Care Legislation webinar, you’ll learn how the ASPCA is addressing these problems through the legislative process so that abused animals can be rescued but not left in legal limbo, and shelters can afford to serve other animals in need.
Puppy Mill Laws: How YOU Can Make a Difference for Dogs Wednesday, December 17 3:00 P.M. ET (1 hour) Presenters: Bill Ketzer, Senior State Legislative Director, Northeast Region; Cori Menkin, Senior Director, Puppy Mills Campaign
Dogs in puppy mills spend their entire lives housed in tiny cages, often stacked on top of each other, forced to produce countless puppies all for the sake of a dollar. The ASPCA is working to guard animals against this despicable industry, but we can’t do it without you! By attending this Puppy Mill Laws webinar, you’ll learn the ins and outs of the federal, state and local laws that help crack down on puppy mills, including all the new and innovative approaches that advocates are using to address this horrific problem.
Federal Legislation Wrap-Up: Looking Back at the 113th Congress and Its Impact on Animals Thursday, December 18 6:30 P.M. ET (1 hour) Presenters: Andrew Binovi, Federal Legislative Manager; Carolyn Schnurr, Federal Legislative Manager
The ASPCA works with Congress—100 U.S. Senators and 435 U.S. Representatives—to provide stronger legal protections for animals across the country. But before the 114th Congress convenes in January 2015, let’s review what the 113th Congress did to help animals! In this Federal Legislation Wrap-Up webinar, the ASPCA’s federal lobbyists will discuss what animal-related initiatives have been considered by Congress over the past two years and which bills we should expect to see next year!
Registration for December’s Animal Legislation Webinar series is now closed. Couldn't make it? Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to stay up-to-date on fun and informational events.
Guest Blog by Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President & CEO
One of the most remarkable things about animal advocacy is that, while our mission has never been more urgent, the opportunity to create substantial and lasting change has never been more obtainable.
Whether you represent an organization with strong support and national reach like the ASPCA, or are simply in a position to make a difference locally, every effort has a life-saving impact.
Last week, we recognized some of the most remarkable people and animals on the front lines of that effort by bestowing our annual ASPCA Humane Awards. The recipients we honored include incredibly resilient dogs and cats, organizations tackling animal cruelty and transforming communities, a congressional leader who championed compassion like no other, and a child who gave her most valuable gift to animals in need.
Collectively, they open our eyes to not only to the challenges of protecting animals from cruelty, but also, our ability and duty to better their lives, and – as a result – improve our own. I hope these stories are shared and appreciated so that such laudable behavior will one day shift from remarkable acts by dedicated individuals to social norms of our entire culture.
To that end, I share these stories with you now.
ASPCA® Tommy P. Monahan Kid of the Year, Annika Glover
Alabama native Annika Glover, 11, had been battling a cancerous brain tumor for nearly four years. But when she became a participant in the Make-A-Wish program, she put the needs of vulnerable animals ahead of her own. Annika used her one wish to save shelter animals. This wish was granted by the Alabama chapter of Make-A-Wish, which donated $7,000 in Annika’s name to the Pets Are Worth Saving (P.A.W.S.) rescue group in Florence, Alabama. With her cancer now in remission, Annika spends much time volunteering at shelter events.
ASPCA® Presidential Service Award recipient, Congressman Jim Moran
When Congressman Jim Moran announced that he would retire at the end of his term in 2014, it became clear that animals would lose a longtime ally in Congress. Moran’s unwavering dedication to ending animal cruelty gave a compassionate voice to the voiceless in the halls of Congress. The twelve-term Congressman from Northern Virginia has been one of Capitol Hill’s strongest champions for animal welfare, advocating for causes including ending horse slaughter, cracking down on abusive animal fighting, and introducing a bill to phase out animal testing for cosmetics in the United States. As co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, Rep. Moran worked with legislators on both sides of the aisle to create humane, common-sense legislation, ensuring a strong legacy of accomplishments and advocacy that will no doubt inspire other leaders.
Cat of the Year, Studley
Studley the cat was found abandoned and starved along the side of the road in Washington state in 2006. After making a full recovery, Studley became a therapy cat—giving love and comfort to people in need. The only therapy cat in the program out of more than 30 animals in the Providence Animal-Assisted Activities and Therapy program (PAAA/T), Studley has been a regular visitor to the Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Washington, where’s he’s offered comfort to patients of all ages since 2007.
The ASPCA assisted in the recovery and analysis of forensic evidence from Vick’s property, which helped convict him of operating a competitive dog fighting ring, a federal offense that led to prison terms for Vick and three co-defendants. We conducted medical and behavioral evaluations on the rescued dogs, and placed the 48 who were behaviorally fit for rehabilitation with sanctuaries, rescues, foster homes and adopters throughout the country.
The black and white pit bull, who previously had few if any positive interactions with people or other dogs, was given a new life when he was adopted by foster parents in San Francisco. In 2008, Jonny found his true calling as a therapy dog with a particular affection for children, participating in programs where children practice their language skills by reading aloud to him. These days he spends much of his time offering love and support to terminally ill children receiving medical treatment, and inspired a line of plush toys in his image.
ASPCA® Henry Bergh Award recipient, Lori Weise of Downtown Dog Rescue
During her daily commute eighteen years ago to a furniture factory on the edge of Skid Row in Los Angeles, Lori Weise routinely saw stray dogs suffering from terrible abuse and horrific neglect. Inspired to act, Lori and her coworkers created Downtown Dog Rescue, which has evolved into a large volunteer-based animal charity that rescues dogs and assists underserved communities in South East Los Angeles, Watts and Compton. In 2013, Downtown Dog Rescue created the South L.A. Shelter Intervention Program, which provides pet owners resources to keep their pets at home, rather than abandon them or relinquish them to shelters.
ASPCA® Public Service Award recipient, Commissioner William J. Bratton on behalf of the New York City Police Department
In early 2014, the ASPCA initiated a historic and groundbreaking partnership with the NYPD in which the NYPD responds to all animal cruelty complaints city-wide, while the ASPCA provides expanded direct care support for animal cruelty victims. Thanks to the dedication of tens of thousands of NYPD officers—newly-trained and firmly on the case of animal abuse—animal cruelty arrests in the first six months of the program increased nearly 160 percent, and the number of animals rescued and treated by the ASPCA increased 180 percent. This past summer, the NYPD formed the department’s first Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad, which will solely focus on serving the abused and neglected animals of the city, making New York City one of the safest places in America for animals.