Guest blog by ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker
For nearly 150 years, the ASPCA has called New York City home, and we’re proud to have helped the city and its animal rescue institutions make great strides in recent years. New York City currently has the lowest dog and cat euthanasia rate per capita in the country. Animal cruelty laws are rigorously enforced in record-breaking numbers by the NYPD in partnership with the ASPCA. And, just yesterday, the New York City Council approved groundbreaking legislation that will curb puppy mills by prohibiting city pet shops from selling animals obtained from breeders who fail to meet even the most basic standards of care. New York City is a place where we protect animals from suffering, not exploit them for profit.
The positive momentum we’ve created should absolutely extend to New York City carriage horses, which is why we support Mayor de Blasio’s proposal to phase out these rides on New York City streets. Using these animals to pull heavy loads of tourists for long hours through loud and congested city streets is simply unnatural, unnecessary, and an undeniable strain on their quality of life, and we’ll work closely with rescue networks to ensure these horses are humanely retired. The ASPCA was founded in part to help horses, and we’ve devoted tremendous effort and resources over the years to bring a permanent end to both domestic horse slaughter and the export of American horses for slaughter abroad.
Naturally, retiring this industry will have financial repercussions, but the Mayor’s bill reflects a strong intent to offset those consequences with workforce training programs and resources available not only to drivers, but to owners, license holders, and horse stable employees. The proposal will prevent renewals of carriage licenses when they expire in 2016, giving displaced workers time to transition to more contemporary industries. Under this bill, owners will also be prohibited from selling horses to slaughter.
So when posed with a choice between giving these horses a quality of life they deserve, or justifying an antiquated industry on the sole basis of tradition and financial gain, it’s clear what the New York City Council should do, based on the humane values New York City holds.
Photo: NYC Council Members Corey Johnson and Elizabeth Crowley, who spearheaded this legislation, flank ASPCA President and CEO Matthew Bershadker as he speaks at this morning's rally in support of stronger pet store regulations.
We couldn’t be more thrilled to share the news that the New York City Council today voted in favor of Introductions 55-A, 136-A and 146-A, legislation to regulate city pet stores that sell puppies. Certain provisions of the bills will take effect as soon as January.
These measures are designed to prevent pet stores in New York City from obtaining puppies from some of the most unscrupulous puppy breeders—a.k.a. puppy mills—in the nation. Pet stores will also be required to disclose information to customers about the origins of the animals they sell, as well as to spay/neuter and microchip dogs and cats (and license dogs) before selling them. This multi-pronged approach will protect animals from exploitation and suffering and help arm consumers with the information they need to make smart choices about bringing new pets into their homes.
Our deepest thanks go out to the New York City members of our ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, who emailed and called their councilmembers in support of these measures. To learn more about the puppy mill industry and its connection to pet stores that sell animals, please visit nopetstorepuppies.com.
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.
From Canine Good Citizens® to therapy cats, animals are known to have a healing power. It’s why so many pet adopters say, “I didn’t rescue him, he rescued me.” In the case of a Chihuahua named Nico, this mantra couldn’t be more true. Although the 7 lb. pup went through some tough times, he proved to be just what the doctor ordered for his new adopters. Here is their Happy Tail.
Nico was purchased from a pet store by his previous owner a few years ago. When that owner passed away in the fall of 2014, his family surrendered the tiny dog to the ASPCA. Though it must have been hard to lose his home, Nico was a trooper. A bit shy at first, he soon warmed up to the staff at the ASPCA Adoption Center, and we were confident that he would make some adopters very happy. On October 25, he did just that.
Michael and his husband had never been to the Adoption Center, but they met Nico on their first visit and were sure he was the right dog. “I knew that he was for me because he seemed so calm,” recalls Michael. Michael’s husband has a neurological condition, and they were looking for a dog that would be content to snuggle and lay on his lap all the time. “Nico fits the bill!” says Michael. “I even bought him a different bed, but he prefers our bed in order to be nearer to us.”
While Michael admits that Nico seems grateful for his new forever home, he also acknowledges the great impact that petite pooch has had on their lives. “Nico is very good for my husband’s condition. He is very kind and humble,” he says. “Nico is happy with anyone.” We are so glad that this sweet dog is able to give and receive so much love, and we wish this happy family all the best in their new life together!
Are you ready to put on your stocking cap and take part in a little holiday trivia game? Join our #SantaPaws Holiday Trivia Twitter Party and Giveaway on Thursday, December 18! Along with co-hosts Cheezburger and Dogster, we’ll test your holiday knowledge on all things reindeer and mistletoe.
Plus, we’ll give away treat-filled holiday gift packs every six minutes to the first person to answer each trivia question, including gifts from vendors like Swiffer, Walkers Shortbread and Hello!
One lucky grand prize winner will also receive a diamond paw pendant courtesy of Zales Jewelers.