In July, we told you the story of Peppah, a Chihuahua who was separated from her family in the wake of domestic violence. Today we have a happy update on Peppah’s story.
In the fall of 2013, Maria*, 34, escaped domestic violence with her children but couldn’t find a single shelter in New York City that was willing to accept her dog, Peppah. She turned to Urban Resources Institute (URI), a non-profit agency that provides shelter for domestic violence survivors and their pets. The creation of its PALS Program (People and Animals Living Safely) established New York City’s first and only domestic violence shelter that allows pets.
But Maria and Peppah’s story didn’t end there. When the time came for the family to move out of URI and into transitional housing, Maria was unable to bring Peppah with her. For eight long months, she and her children were separated from their dog, who was sent to live in a foster home. They visited Peppah twice during their time apart, but ached for a more permanent reunion. “We always spoke about Peppah as if she were here—even though she wasn’t,” said Maria. “She was never far from our minds.”
On Friday, December 12, Maria and her children were joyfully reunited with Peppah. Dara Ruiz and Colleen Doherty, of the ASPCA’s CIA (Cruelty Intervention Advocacy) team, facilitated the reunion by driving Peppah to the five-story walk-up where Maria waited.
“Where’s my baby?!” she squealed as Peppah, clad in a red sweater, squealed back before leaping into Maria’s arms and licking her face. Inside the apartment, Maria’s children couldn’t contain their excitement, either. They smiled and laughed at the arrival of their beloved pet and took turns cuddling her. Peppah lapped it up, climbing onto their shoulders and bounding on and off the lower bunk bed, her tail wagging non-stop.
“I’m so overly grateful, I’ve been crying all week,” said Maria, brushing aside tears. “All we wanted for Christmas was our dog, and now she’s here.”
Colleen and Dara left dog food, treats and other items for Peppah, and the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals paid the pet deposit fee for the family’s new apartment.
On Monday, December 15, Maria and her children—both two- and four-legged—were together again, packed up in their car and off to a new home, just in time for the holidays.
We have great news for New York City’s neediest animals: Thanks to a grant from The John T. and Jane A. Wiederhold Foundation, the ASPCA Cruelty Intervention Advocacy Program (CIA) has received a new vehicle for the transport of animals rescued from hoarding or other harmful situations to the ASPCA Animal Hospital and our partner veterinary clinics for emergency care. The CIA Program is also utilizing this vehicle to move animal cruelty victims who are seized by the New York Police Department (NYPD) and taken to partner emergency hospital Blue Pearl, whose emergency clinics are located in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, to transport animals the ASPCA Animal Hospital for further care and case investigation. Safe, humane transport is needed to ensure that animals receive prompt medical attention and cruelty cases are addressed as quickly as possible.
The sprinter van provides ample space to accommodate pet carriers and cages and animal rescue supplies. The vehicle includes many state-of-the-art features, including a constant monitoring camera mounted in the rear area of the vehicle to provide surveillance of the animals by the driver and passenger.
Animal lovers from across the Lone Star State adopted 2,256 cats, kittens, dogs and puppies—and even a few pocket pets—on Saturday, August 16, during “Empty the Shelter Day,” the largest ever pet adoption effort in North Texas, sponsored in part by the ASPCA.
Shelters large and small, municipal and non-profit—33 total—literally emptied their shelters during the one-day, fee-waived adoption event.
“It was a sight to see and the best day of my 18-year career,” said Corey Price, animal services manager for the City of Irving Animal Services, an open-admission shelter. “Veterans of the animal welfare community were left speechless, and shelter workers and volunteers shed tears as they walked past empty kennels and cages.”
It was Price who set the wheels in motion in June for the multiple-shelter collaboration when she and her staff began thinking beyond the smaller scale “Empty the Shelter” event they had hosted in previous years. They pitched the idea to broadcaster NBC5/Telemundo39, which immediately got on board, and began spreading the word.
Shelters signed on like wildfire. NBC5/Telemundo39 provided PSAs and promotional coverage; the ASPCA provided funds for other local advertising and grassroots efforts.
Lines of soon-to-be-adopters began at 7 a.m. at the Humane Society of North Texas in Ft. Worth.
Ann Barnes, executive director of the Humane Society of North Texas, the oldest animal welfare agency in the region, placed more animals—339—than any other single agency, said the event was “all hands on deck” for her team and, despite the Texas heat and long lines, “the community support was overwhelming.”
At Dallas Animal Services, customers waited as long as three hours to adopt but were “patient and committed,” says Rebecca Poling, a board member of the Dallas Companion Animal Project, which supplied volunteers to DAS for the event. “It was not so much about adopting a pet for free as it was about saving lives. The event really gave people the chance to be a part of something.”
“People got the message,” adds Pam Burney, vice president of community initiatives for the ASPCA and who visited several participating shelters during the event. “What’s great is all the shelters did well—even small ones.”
That’s certainly true of North Richland Hills Animal Adoption & Rescue Center, which placed 39 pets during their event. “In 2013, for the entire month of August, we placed less than that—just 34,” says Chun Mezger, humane division supervisor for the City of North Richland Hills. “Our community really supported us.”
Staff at North Richland Hills Animal Adoption & Rescue Center rallied in memory of their co-worker Mary Beth Chastain who died of cancer four days earlier. The shelter placed 39 pets during the event—more adoptions than in the entire month of August 2013.
For Chun’s staff, the event was also tinged with sadness. “We just lost one of our own—Mary Beth Chastain, a humane officer—to cancer on Wednesday,” Mezger says. “But our team did an amazing job pulling together to honor Mary Beth by ‘knocking it out of the park’ on Saturday.”
In 2013, aggregate adoptions for the same 33 participating shelters, on the same August day, was just 266, according to Price. The final count for Empty the Shelter Day increased that number nearly ten-fold.
“For the first time ever, our two shelters were nearly empty,” says James Bias, president and CEO of the SPCA of Texas, where just three dogs remained at the organization’s Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center in Dallas and its Russell H. Perry Animal Care Center in McKinney stood empty. “In one day, 163 animals found their forever homes—half as many as find homes in any given week.”
By 4 PM, HSNT had run out of dogs (Courtesy HSNT)
“We’ve never seen room after room of empty kennels,” adds Barnes, whose organization was out of its 208 dogs by 4 p.m. and by day’s end had also placed 126 cats, two rabbits and three other small mammals. “It was a real morale booster.”
By 2:30 p.m., Dallas Animal Services was out of adoptable pets and began directing clients to its Lost and Found area where they could pre-adopt animals on stray hold if they went unclaimed. “I’d never seen it empty like this since the day we opened,” says Poling. “Pod after pod, row after row. It was almost eerie. But it was a great thing.”
Hazel Russell of Watauga, Texas adopted Chloe, a Chihuahua, at the N. Richland Hills event. (Courtesy NRHAA&RC)
Despite the myth that fee-waived adoptions don’t yield good homes for cats and dogs, Barnes says her team’s experience during “Empty the Shelter” de-bunked that theory. “Our adoption applications were perfect—just what we wanted for each animal,” she says. Adds the ASPCA’s Burney: “It’s only the fee that was waived, not the criteria. In fact, some adopters visited shelters on Friday and paid fees so they could be sure to get first pick.”
In the end, says Price, the best part was not only the support from the community, but how “participating shelters embraced and ran with the concept.”
“I’m really impressed with the North Texas animal welfare community,” she says. “This is just the beginning.”
The ASPCA Equine Fund’s Rescuing Racers Initiative is pleased to celebrate its fifth year with the announcement of 25 new grant recipients. Launched in 2010, Rescuing Racers Initiative is a major grants program created to aid in the rescue and rehabilitation of retired racehorses—many suffering from career-ending injuries—to save them from slaughter. The inclusion of this year’s recipients brings the program’s total to $1.7 million in equine-related grants since 2010.
“The ASPCA Rescuing Racers Initiative began with an anonymous donation of $1 million, and we’ve been fortunate enough to carry on this much-needed grants program thanks to the continued generosity of that donor and many other animal advocates,” said Jacque Schultz, Senior Director of the ASPCA Equine Fund. “We’re grateful to have the resources to assist these rescues, which provide sanctuary and after-care to retired racers, saving them from ending up at livestock auctions and slaughterhouses.”
This year’s recipients include a wide range of equine rescues from 14 states, and each will be awarded a grant ranging from $1,500-$25,000. The grant funding helps the groups increase capacity for rescuing more horses, and this year primarily focused on training and rehabilitation costs such as veterinary care, therapeutic shoeing, and boarding to recover from career-ending injuries.
“Rescuing is only the beginning,” said Susan Peirce, president and founder of Red Bucket Equine Rescue, one of the grant recipients. “With deep appreciation to the ASPCA Rescuing Racers Initiative, we will be able to continue to rescue, rehabilitate, and train deserving equines.”
The organizations joining the list of rescues and sanctuaries as part of the ASPCA Rescuing Racers Initiative for 2014 are:
Akindale Rehabilitation & Land Conservation, NY
Brook Hill Retirement Center for Horses, VA
Equine Outreach, Inc, OR
The Exceller Fund, KY
FL TRAC, FL
Friends of Ferdinand, IN
Hidden Acres Thoroughbred Rescue, FL
Hooved Animal Humane Society, IL
Kearney Area Community Foundation/Double R Horse Rescue, NE
Kentucky Equine Humane Center, KY
Makers Mark Secretariat Center, KY
MidAtlantic Horse Rescue, MD
Neigh Savers Foundation, CA
New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, OH
Red Bucket Equine Rescue, CA
Rerun Inc, VA
Second Stride, NY
Southern California Thoroughbred Rescue, CA
Standardbred Retirement Foundation, NJ
Thoroughbred Athletes, OK
Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue, MD
United Pegasus Foundation, CA
Please join us in congratulating this year’s Rescuing Racers Initiative grant recipients!
We’d like to extend a big thanks to the PEDIGREE Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping dogs in need find loving homes by supporting the good work of shelters and dog rescue organizations around the country. In 2013, the Foundation awarded a $25,000 grant to the ASPCA in support of our Behavior Rehabilitation Center. The ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey, is the first and only facility dedicated to providing behavioral rehabilitation for undersocialized canine victims of cruelty, such as those confiscated from puppy mills and hoarding situations.
Julie Duke, Executive Director of the PEDIGREE Foundation, paid a visit to the Behavior Rehabilitation Center. She was so impressed with the work the ASPCA is doing to help turn severely fearful dogs into adoptable companions that she arranged for Kristen Collins, ASPCA Director of Anti-Cruelty Behavior Rehabilitation, to present at the 2014 Tennessee Animal Control Conference on August 4 and 5. Julie strongly believes that animal welfare shelters in Tennessee will benefit greatly from hearing our specialists talk about the Center and our work there.
We are truly grateful for the PEDIGREE Foundation's generous support. For more information about the Foundation, please visit www.pedigreefoundation.org.