Great news: this week offers a very special opportunity to get involved and help animals in your community. National Volunteer Week, which runs from April 12-18, is the perfect time to make a difference. Here are three ways you can help.
Host a pet food and supplies drive. Animal shelters are always in need of basic supplies that can be found around your home or at your local grocery or discount store including food, towels and bedding, cleaning supplies, toys and other pet care supplies. Consider hosting a supplies drive to gather items from your friends and family members to donate.
Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade. Help fight for the passage of stronger anti-cruelty laws on federal, state and local levels by joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade As a Brigade member, you’ll have the opportunity to help pass important legislation for animals within your region.
The ASPCA was excited to honor award-winning actresses Hilary Swank and Edie Falco at our 18th annual ASPCA Bergh Ball on Thursday, April 9. Emceed by actress Lake Bell and designer Isaac Mizrahi, the “pup art” -themed event was held at New York City’s Plaza Hotel and helped raise funds for the ASPCA’s lifesaving work on behalf of homeless, abused and neglected animals.
Swank received the ASPCA Compassion Award, which recognizes individuals in entertainment and the arts who have made outstanding contributions to animal welfare by utilizing their creative talents and prominence to bring attention and action to the plight of vulnerable and homeless dogs and cats.
Falco received the ASPCA Voice for Animals Award, which recognizes influencers who use traditional and modern media to increase awareness and inspire action on behalf of animal in crisis in the United States.
“Hilary Swank and Edie Falco have as much compassion as they have talent, and we’re thankful they’ve chosen to dedicate considerable time and energy to help animals in crisis,” said ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker. “The work they’ve done has helped save and protect countless lives, and the ASPCA is proud to recognize their commitment with these awards.”
The event also featured playing cards that showcased photos of dogs at cats at the ASPCA Adoption Center in New York City, as well as dog and cat prints by Andy Warhol, licensed by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Posing as jokers in the deck are Bravo’s Andy Cohen, with his dog Wacha, and actor Nathan Lane, with his dog Mabel.
Thanks to everyone who attended, and congratulations to our 2015 award recipients!
There’s no question dog fighting is a deplorable crime. Few things are more cruel, which is why the barbaric activity is a felony in every state. Nonetheless, organized dog fights continue, attracting large and surprisingly diverse crowds of participants and spectators in locations that range from rural towns to dense cities across the country.
By our estimate, there are tens of thousands of dog fighters in the U.S., forcing hundreds of thousands of dogs to train, fight, and suffer every year.
These are not fringe or rare events; dog fighting is a cruelty-for-profit industry. In the last five years alone, we’ve assisted law enforcement on over a hundred dog fighting cases, come to the rescue of more than 2,100 dogs, and helped prosecutors file 463 criminal charges related to dog fighting. Less than three years ago, we assisted in the raid of the second-largest dog fighting operation in U.S. history, involving over 350 dogs.
As long as this blood “sport” continues, we must do more to fight it. Animal fighting laws can be strengthened to ensure penalties match the severity of crimes committed. Police officers can be better trained to identify and investigate dog fighting cases. And law enforcement can be given adequate resources to care for canine victims so authorities are not deterred from raiding these sites.
By changing our local and national priorities, we can ensure that dog fighting is seen, treated, and punished as not just a heartless offense, but as one of the most despicable crimes in our society.
Achieving that goal requires the enthusiastic participation of law enforcement, as we have here in New York with our NYPD partnership. But to explore how police officers across the country view their animal welfare roles and challenges to them, we conducted a national study of over 500 law enforcement officers.
The results revealed that while most officers consider dog fighting a “severe” crime, 40 percent said limited resources—including money, time and manpower—pose a major obstacle when it comes to pursuing dog fighting cases. And nearly half (49 percent) reported that they need more training on how to investigate animal cruelty.
When asked how much specific training they’d already received, 52 percent of the officers said none whatsoever. And 75 percent reported that they had not received training or guidance on dog fighting cases in the last year.
These results show that many police officers are ready and willing to take on dog fighters, but aren't equipped with all they need to work most effectively.
More and more, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are asking for the ASPCA’s assistance with these cases and for training on how to best investigate dog fighting. We’re committed to providing our expertise and resources to help law enforcement around the country combat this horrific crime.
But the public can also make a big difference. While every city has its own approach and barriers to fighting animal cruelty, what they have in common are communities of outraged people, eager to do whatever they can to end dog fighting for good.
If you hear or see anything that makes you suspect animal fighting or the training of animals to fight, notify the police immediately. Public tips are often the breakthrough authorities need to stop not only animal abuse, but other crimes often found at the scene, including drug dealing and illegal firearm sales.
Even if you’ve never heard about a dog fight, that doesn’t mean they’re not happening nearby. We also can’t relax simply because animal fighting is illegal. I’ve witnessed enough horrific crime scenes to know that animal fights can take place anywhere, and that they represent the absolute worst of human nature.
When we put more pressure on our local and federal government, offer more training and resources to our police forces, and ultimately give the issue of animal fighting the seriousness it deserves, many more lives will be saved from suffering.
Grab your party hats! Friday, April 10, marks the ASPCA’s birthday and we’re thrilled to be celebrating 149 years of lifesaving work for animals across the country.
When ASPCA founder Henry Bergh first spoke up for animals, America was not a very animal-friendly place. But Bergh, a gifted orator with influential friends, rallied people to the cause and succeeded in getting the New York State Legislature to pass a charter officially incorporating the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) on April 10, 1866. Just nine days later, the first effective anti-cruelty law was passed and, with a team of three, the ASPCA went to work to enforce it. By the time Bergh died in 1888, 37 of the 38 states in the Union had passed anti-cruelty laws.
We’ve accomplished a great deal since then. From operating New York City’s first equine ambulance (two years before the City’s first ambulance for people) to our veterinary advancements during the 1920s to our recent accomplishments in Los Angeles, we have a proud history that continues today.
We’re honored to work every day to assist animals nationwide and we are proud of you, our supporters, for trusting and enabling us to do this important job. Thank you for fighting alongside us these 149 years!
Conducting a dog fight is a felony in all 50 states, but to truly crack down on this despicable blood sport, states need to pass laws giving law enforcement more tools to catch these criminals and deter this cruel activity. In recent months we’ve seen great legislative opportunities squandered, so we must redouble our efforts to raise awareness.
It is illegal in 49 states to own dogs for the purpose of fighting. Sadly, this past March the Kentucky Legislature failed to pass a bill that would have brought the Bluegrass State in line with the rest of the country, perpetuating its dishonorable distinction as a haven for dog fighters.
Similarly, 49 states have made it illegal to be a spectator at a dog fight, but earlier this week, April 7, Montana legislators voted down legislation that would have made it a crime to be a spectator at an animal fight. If you live in Montana, see how your state senator voted, and in honor of National Dog Fighting Awareness Day, please politely let him/her know how you feel about their vote (a Yes was a vote in support of this bill to strengthen penalties for dog fighting).
No matter where you live, it is critically important to raise awareness about dog fighting—as heinous an activity as it is, lawmakers around the country still need to receive the message. Please join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade and we’ll let you know when anti-fighting bills are under consideration in your state.