ASPCA programs are divided among three professional groups: Animal Health Services, Anti-Cruelty and Community Outreach. The ASPCA is a privately funded 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.
Animal Health Services comprises three departments whose work encompasses different aspects of animal health and well-being. The Animal Health Services Program Office coordinates the strategic activities of Spay/Neuter Operations (Mobile SN Clinics, National SN Project, SN Facility), Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital and the Animal Poison Control Center. In addition, the Program Office provides animal care strategic leadership, medical expert support for media and marketing, medical record harmonization and training and business support. The Program Office provides accounting/budget management support to Animal Health Services as well as human resources, office management, building security and building maintenance support for the ASPCA’s Urbana, Illinois, location.
ASPCA Animal Hospital
The ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH) is a full service veterinary facility providing quality medical care to animals who are victims of cruelty (HLE), shelter animals in need of advanced care, animals with post-operative complications from the Mobile Clinics, and pets in NYC, including those “at risk” for cruelty or neglect due to economic disadvantage. The ASPCA provides training externships to veterinary students and veterinary technicians and hosts the only veterinary internship program that includes rotations through shelter medicine, humane law enforcement and animal behavior. The Animal Hospital also administers the Trooper Fund to provide life-saving treatment to over 1,000 animals a year whose owners are unable to afford care.
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is the premier animal poison control center in North America, and is committed to serving pet parents and preventing animal suffering by assisting, around-the-clock, in the prevention and treatment of poisonings from natural and man-made chemical exposures. Annually, the Center answers 200,000 calls and manages 130,000 cases.
Staff uses AnTox™ database resources, containing one million cases, to provide life-saving information. The Center is committed to protecting and improving the lives of animals through promotion of poison prevention and publication of new findings. In addition, the ASPCA provides expertise to advisory boards including the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia and the Michelson Prize and Grants in Reproductive Biology, which encourages research in non-surgical means of sterilization of dogs and cats.
The Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinics
The mission of the ASPCA Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinics (MSNC) is to help end the euthanasia of adoptable dogs and cats in New York City's five boroughs by operating five state-of-the-art surgical mobile units seven days a week. Recognizing pet overpopulation often arises in neighborhoods with limited access to, and knowledge of, veterinary care, the Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinics bring these services directly to more than 120 communities. The Clinics provide free and low-cost spay/neuter surgeries to economically challenged residents of New York City’s five boroughs and to shelters, rescue groups, foster networks and individuals doing trap-neuter-return. In addition to spay/neuter, the clinics offer free or low cost vaccinations for cats and dogs undergoing surgery. The MSNC reaches its clientele and creates awareness largely via grassroots outreach efforts such as posting flyers, partnering with local businesses and hosting special events.
The ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Group (ACG) fights cruelty to animals in the United States through the work of seven professional departments that address different aspects of the problem.
Field Investigations and Response
The Field Investigations and Response Team is dedicated to assisting and rescuing animals in crisis due to human abuse, neglect and natural or man-made disasters. The department aids local humane societies, animal care and control agencies, law enforcement and disaster preparedness agencies by assisting in the planning and execution of animal rescue operations, including evidence collection, documentation, removal and short and long-term care of animals in need. The department works towards building and expanding a network of shelter partnerships through the ASPCA Response Program, which helps in the placement of rescued animals. The department works with local and nationally-based groups and coalitions to help them advance their capacity; increase the professionalism of partner responders; and assist communities by funding training opportunities in disaster response and fighting animal cruelty.
Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects
The Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects department strives to advance the application of veterinary medicine, forensic sciences and applied animal behavior to the investigation, prosecution and prevention of cruelty to animals through original research and outreach to professionals in allied disciplines. The department not only assists in cases involving criminal charges surrounding animal abuse or neglect, it also helps in dealing with animal-related evidence in crimes that involve human victims. The department provides assistance to federal, state and local law enforcement agencies as well as animal care and control agencies, local humane societies and SPCAs, veterinary associations and individual practitioners. Assistance is provided through training and education to a variety of audiences and providing case consulting and response, including but not limited to, evidence collection and the “packaging” of a case. Recently the department expanded to include closer integration with the work of the ASPCA’s Animal Behavior Center and Counseling Program.
Animal Behavior Center
The Animal Behavior Center (ABC) is dedicated to promoting humane, respectful and enriched relationships between people and companion animals. ABC’s overarching goal is to prevent and respond to animal cruelty. Its preventive efforts are built on the realization that maladaptive behavior is often at the root of animal abuse. ABC’s responsive efforts acknowledge that victims of animal cruelty deserve valid behavior assessments, minimally stressful care, placement opportunities or, if warranted, a humane and dignified euthanasia. The Animal Behavior Center works directly with our Field Investigations and Response Team, our response partner agencies, and other humane organizations to protect animal victims from further cruelty by providing evaluation and rehabilitation services, as well as educational programs and published literature on best practices in behavior assessment, training and enrichment.
The Government Relations department is committed to introducing and guiding legislative initiatives supporting animal welfare. The department provides political expertise at state and federal levels, lobbying, legislative drafting, and training and guidance to legislators, nonprofit colleague groups, and the public on animal welfare topics aligned with ASPCA’s strategic plan. It monitors legislation across the country and acts through lobbying, bill drafting, as well as crafting letters of opinion, testimony, action alerts and media interviews to shape animal protection legislation that further anti-cruelty initiatives. The department is comprised of lobbyists who each manage various states within their regions, as well as New York City, and work to advance anti-cruelty legislative initiatives in their locales. The department drafts and files amicus curiae “friend of the court” briefs relevant to cases that would either advance animal welfare or be in opposition to those that would cause setbacks to animal welfare.
Humane Law Enforcement
The ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement (HLE) department is staffed by New York State-licensed peace officers with full police powers to enforce New York’s animal cruelty laws. HLE Special Agents and Investigators respond to cruelty complaints in the five boroughs of New York City, conduct investigations, arrest offenders and assist the prosecution in seeing the criminal case through to a successful conclusion. The department is also comprised of the Horse Carriage Enforcement program which strives to enforce New York City’s carriage horse laws by conducting routine hack line and stable inspections, investigating complaints of equine cruelty, issuing summonses of violations, and suspending carriage horse operation during inclement weather. In addition, the Cruelty Intervention Advocacy (CIA) program aims to prevent cruelty to hundreds of animals by working with HLE agents to connect financially disadvantaged pet owners to free or low cost veterinary care through the Partners in Caring (“PIC”) grant program and by addressing animal “hoarding” situations where criminal charges are not yet appropriate. Furthermore, HLE also consists of a chief counsel who serves as a core instructor for the New York State Office of Administration and provides training to incoming and sitting New York State judges on topics including cruelty law, investigation and prosecution, family violence, and animal cruelty and the dangerous dog law. HLE Agents and counsel serve as instructors for the New York City Police Academy and other police academies around the state for the mandated two-hour training on animal cruelty law and investigation.
The Legal Advocacy department is dedicated to providing legal assistance to prosecutors, police and cruelty investigators around the country to help ensure successful prosecution of animal cruelty and animal fighting cases; managing any affirmative litigation and serve as legislative counsel to the Government Relations department. The legal assistance provided to prosecutors and law enforcement officials will include: providing legal guidance to prosecutors and investigators on relevant animal cruelty laws and procedures, drafting motions, jury instructions, bonding/forfeiture petitions, appellate briefs and other legal documents; connecting prosecutors and investigators to resources integral to success in the criminal case including forensic, behavioral and legal experts; identifying cases likely to impact large numbers of animals or with potential for significant legislative change in the field; and intervening as amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) in appropriate cases. In cases with the potential to significantly improve legal protections for companion animals, the legal advocacy department will bring legal proceedings corollary to the criminal prosecution including writs, declaratory judgments and petitions for injunctive relief, and will initiate or support civil litigation on the state and federal level to promote those heightened legal protections.
Anti-Cruelty Campaigns and Strategy
The Anti-Cruelty Campaigns and Strategy department will work to help guide the diverse efforts of the other ACG departments. The department will employ a holistic approach aimed at affecting systemic change in preventing cruelty to animals. The Campaigns team will activate several traditional, social campaign tactics, including enhanced enforcement, legislative change, social awareness, communications and consumer behavior with a focus on farm animal welfare and puppy mills.
Community Outreach (CO) works to provide positive outcomes for animals at risk. This department of seasoned animal welfare professionals in many different disciplines and geographic locations develops materials and programs, distributes grant funding and educational literature, and leads trainings that enable shelters and rescue organizations around the country to improve their practices in order to save more at-risk animals. The ASPCA’s New York City Adoption Center is also a vital part of the CO Group. Community Outreach is comprised of five departments.
Community Outreach Programs Office (COPO)
The COPO department provides oversight to the entire Community Outreach group and is responsible for the cohesiveness of programs and the distribution of information necessary to keep staff spread out across the country on the same page. They coordinate annual face-to-face meetings and quarterly virtual meetings, compile monthly statistical group reports and create weekly departmental e-newsletters.
The Community Initiatives (CI) department facilitates the ASPCA Partnership, an initiative between the ASPCA and selected communities around the nation, strives to increase the Live Release Rate of cats and dogs in area shelters, saving the animals most at risk through data-driven programs that engage the community to reunite lost animals with their families, increase adoptions and spay/neuter and support feral cats. Staff is also responsible for grant-making programs both for their specific community and for organizations throughout their regional territories.CI staff is also engaged in programs dedicated to improving shelters, relocating the nation’s at-risk animals, creating national disaster readiness standards, improving professionalism and expanding the capabilities of equine rescues and sanctuaries through grants from the ASPCA Equine Fund.
The ASPCA Onyx and Breezy Shefts Adoption Center strives to find good homes for as many dogs and cats as possible. As a limited admission shelter, the Adoption Center receives animals from the public, from the Humane Law Enforcement department and from local shelters and rescue groups that need assistance. The ASPCA euthanizes only in cases of extreme aggression or compromised medical conditions. The Adoption Center includes a veterinary team and a group of behavior experts, all focused on preparing the animals for adoption both medically and behaviorally. The Volunteer Program recruits, trains and places hundreds of volunteers throughout the organization who help both the staff and the animals in our care. The Animal -Assisted Therapy Program recruits and trains volunteer teams to become Delta Pet Partners, placing them with hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, schools and in other programs for people with disabilities.
The ProLearning department facilitates knowledge transfer between and among ASPCA Community Outreach, ASPCA partner communities and the animal welfare field-at-large in order to accelerate improved Live Release Rates nationwide. There are two primary functions within the department: Using the ASPCA Dashboard, ProLearning manages the capture, analysis and interpretation of shelter and program data to identify best practices and lessons-learned from ASPCA partner communities. ProLearning also manages ASPCApro.org, the organization’s website for animal welfare professionals, which distributes information, program models, tools and support for the uptake of successful practices in animal shelters. The Research and Development component of ProLearning also provides training for the successful implementation of adoption programs and SAFER canine assessment and tests cutting-edge, science-based programs to improve the effectiveness of adoption, return to owner, Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) and spay/neuter programs.
The veterinarians of Veterinary Outreach promote shelter medicine best practices through their participation in the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, the creation of shelter medicine standards, the promotion of shelter medicine at national veterinary schools, presentations at national conferences and the production of shelter medicine textbooks. They are valued contributors to the ASPCA Partnership baseline assessment team and provide consultation to shelters around the country on such topics as disease prevention, controlling a disease outbreak and spay/neuter programs.