The ASPCA is a privately funded 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. ASPCA programs are divided into two primary groups: Shelter & Veterinary Services; and Policy, Response & Engagement.
Shelter & Veterinary Services
The ASPCA Onyx and Breezy Shefts Adoption Center finds loving homes for more than 4,000 dogs and cats annually. These animals come from partner shelters that need help finding homes for adoptable cats and dogs, from our partnership with NYPD which removes animals from abusive and neglectful situations, and from our own Kitten Nursery that is dedicated to the care and treatment of newborn and juvenile kittens who are too young to survive on their own. Adoption Center staff, including a veterinary team and a group of behavior experts, are focused on getting animals ready for adoption and making lasting matches between people and pets. Adoption Center volunteers support the staff in caring for animals and serving our community.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is the premier animal poison control center in North America and is committed to serving pet owners and preventing animal suffering by providing around-the-clock assistance in the prevention and treatment of poison exposures. We have the largest concentration of veterinarians and board-certified veterinary toxicologists providing lifesaving toxicology, diagnostic, and treatment recommendations to pet owners and veterinarians every day of the year. Annually, the APCC handles more than 220,000 cases, helping over 265,000 animals and has over 40 years of exposure data from more than three million APCC cases.
The APCC is committed to protecting and improving the lives of animals through the creation of poison prevention materials and the publication of new findings, as well as free continuing education courses, focusing on toxicology, for veterinary staff across the United States. The APCC’s social media presence provides pet owners and veterinarians with timely animal toxicology information in order to educate followers and prevent toxic exposures. Alongside this work, APCC has also developed an Animal Poison app that details potential toxins for four species (dog, cat, horse, bird) and features our well-known “Dogs and Chocolate” Calculator.
The ASPCA Animal Hospital (AAH) relieves suffering and provides lifesaving care for animals who have been victims of cruelty and neglect, and for cats and dogs whose owners are experiencing financial challenges. The team provides high-quality medical services including emergency medical treatments, surgeries, radiographs, and dental services for the most at-risk pets of New York City.
Additionally, the ASPCA operates our Animal Recovery Center (ARC) for animal victims of cruelty and neglect, and the Gloria Gurney Canine Annex for Recovery and Enrichment (CARE) Ward for dogs seized by the New York City Police Department. Together, AAH, ARC and CARE operate to relieve suffering and provide lifesaving care and medical and behavioral rehabilitation for animal patients.
ASPCA Spay/Neuter Alliance
The ASPCA Spay/Neuter Alliance (ASNA) in Asheville, North Carolina, performs 25,000 low-cost spay/neuter surgeries annually for pet owners, shelters and rescues in Western North Carolina. While these surgeries serve to combat shelter overpopulation locally, ending overpopulation nationally is the ultimate aim. To that end, the highly skilled ASNA team teaches high-quality spay/neuter techniques and best practices to more than 1,000 veterinarians, clinic teams and fourth-year veterinary externs each year. ASNA also provides strategic mentoring to individuals and organizations from around the country on how to launch and manage sustainable spay/neuter programs; perform high-quality, safe and efficient surgery; and partner effectively with the local community to improve animal welfare.
Community Medicine provides accessible, affordable veterinary medical care for low-income pet owners via clinics and mobile medical units in New York City, Los Angeles and, beginning in summer 2019, Miami. Our highly skilled team of veterinarians and medical support staff serves more than 10,000 pet-owning families annually by treating common conditions and offering spay/neuter, routine vaccinations and humane euthanasia. In addition, we care for homeless animals and community cats by providing rescue groups with more than 60,000 fully subsidized spay/neuter surgeries each year.
Because increasing access to veterinary care is critical to the welfare of pets, and to keeping pets with their families and out of shelters, our team collaborates with veterinarians and animal welfare professionals from around the country to share knowledge and develop approaches for expanding care to more pet owners in need.
The Shelter Outreach Department supports shelters and rescues via three main programs: Shelter Medicine Services, Relocation and the Northern Tier Shelter Initiative.
Shelter Medicine is a recognized veterinary specialty dedicated to the care of homeless animals by attending to both individual and population-level care, including a strong focus on physical and behavioral wellness. In addition to supporting many of our own programs, the ASPCA team of board-certified shelter medicine specialists develop educational resources and provide training and consultation for sheltering and veterinary professionals throughout the country.
The Animal Relocation program transports animals from shelters in areas of high homeless pet overpopulation to shelters where there is a greater demand for adoptable animals and positive outcomes are more likely. Moving tens of thousands of dogs – and now cats – along three main routes (East, Midwest and West), the Relocation team also provides consultation, training and support to dozens of shelter partners.
The Northern Tier Shelter Initiative provides on-site shelter health and operation consultations, grants and training in seven target states: Alaska, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin in order to reduce animal homelessness, increase adoptions and reunifications and improve pet welfare overall.
In New York, the ASPCA aims to increase the accessibility of affordable veterinary care and expand the limited scope of cruelty rehabilitation programs. We are investing significantly in programs to help canine victims of abuse and to help people in NYC’s most underserved communities keep and care for their pets. We’re also renovating our existing facilities and building new clinics in the Bronx, Brooklyn and northern Manhattan, as well as a new behavioral and medical rehabilitation facility north of NYC.
Policy, Response & Engagement
Policy, Response & Engagement encompasses the ASPCA’s wide-ranging work rescuing and rehabilitating animals, ensuring enforcement of anti-cruelty laws, changing policies to improve animal welfare, and working to keep pets and people together.
Through direct intervention, field response, community engagement, legal advocacy, and policymaking efforts, PRE aligns our anti-cruelty efforts in prioritized communities to enhance partnerships and drive legal and policy change across the U.S.
Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team
The Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team (ACBT) provides behavioral support for animals seized from cruelty and neglect situations or rescued from natural disasters. The team performs behavior assessments and implements enrichment, socialization and rehabilitation programs for animals held as evidence in criminal proceedings and/or needing temporary sheltering. ACBT supports cruelty prosecutions by providing behavior forensic reports and expert witness testimony.
ACBT strives to advance the field of forensic animal behavior and the inclusion of psychological harm within the legal definitions of cruelty by conducting original research, teaching, publishing and presenting at professional conferences. We work closely with the Behavioral Rehabilitation Center to document the emotional damage suffered by animals victimized by long-term neglect and investigate effective methods for helping these animals.
The ASPCA’s pilot Behavioral Rehabilitation Center at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey, was the first facility dedicated to providing behavioral rehabilitation for fearful, undersocialized dogs, such as those confiscated from puppy mills and hoarding situations.
Due to the success of the pilot program, which treated more than 300 dogs over four years, the ASPCA opened a new permanent, state-of-the-art Behavioral Rehabilitation Center (BRC) in Weaverville, North Carolina, in 2018. Covering 13 acres, the BRC has the capacity to rehabilitate 65 dogs at any given time. Physically healthy shelter dogs may be accepted at the BRC when they exhibit fearful behavior that compromises their quality of life and makes adoption challenging or impossible. Once admitted, dogs are treated daily by a dedicated team of animal behavior experts implementing scientifically sound techniques to reduce their fear of people, acclimate them to real-life situations and improve their quality of life.
The BRC’s Learning Lab program provides interactive learning experiences to select animal shelters across the country, challenging them to save more animal lives by elevating their behavioral healthcare and treatment programs. The Learning Lab encourages participating organizations to more strongly leverage every human interaction and all aspects of their environment, to more efficiently and effectively prepare behaviorally challenged animals for adoption. A cohort of organizations who are poised to serve as regional centers for specialized behavioral treatment also receive intensive training in the BRC’s protocols for rehabilitating extremely fearful, undersocialized dogs, to better serve that at-risk population on a national level. All participating organizations join the Learning Lab’s robust professional network and online community to collaborate on lifesaving projects and share ideas and innovations in real-time, continually advancing shelter behavioral healthcare.
The ASPCA’s Equine Welfare department aims to improve equine welfare by promoting the adoption and transitioning of horses, increasing safety net support, and enhancing anti-cruelty efforts from on-the-ground work to strong legislation. Our efforts are crucial to helping horses find homes, keeping horses safe, combatting cruelty and responding to disasters. We also expand the capabilities of equine rescues and sanctuaries through grants from the ASPCA Equine Fund.
Farm Animal Welfare
The ASPCA’s Farm Animal Welfare department uses consumer education, corporate outreach, farmer support and government engagement to improve life for over 9 billion chickens, pigs, cows and other farm animals raised each year in the US, most of which are confined on inhumane factory farms. Through the Shop With Your Heart program, the ASPCA connects consumers to food from more humane sources, like welfare-certified meat, eggs and dairy, and plant-based alternatives. We also work with our Government Relations and Legal Advocacy teams to pass laws and advance regulations that protect farm animals, clarify food labels and incentivize more humane farming. Leveraging consumer demand, grants to farmers and public policy, we help food brands, retailers and institutions welfare-certify their supply chains, which mandates better living conditions for animals and adds critical transparency.
The Field Investigations and Response (FIR) team travels from coast to coast responding to animal cruelty and natural disasters. FIR’s primary goal is to rescue animals from crisis situations and provide ongoing daily care and medical support. In addition, the FIR team provides training to other animal welfare organizations, law enforcement, and emergency management agencies. Areas of expertise include: animal cruelty, blood sports, disaster preparedness and response, large-scale operations, emergency sheltering and medical, planning and operations, transport, responder management and animal placement.
The Government Relations department leads legislative and regulatory initiatives across the country at the state, federal and local level to create stronger legal protections for animals. The Department provides policy expertise, identifies needed legal reforms, works collaboratively with Legal Advocacy to craft language and amendments, works in partnership with other nonprofit groups aligned with ASPCA policy objectives and lobbies legislators for passage of key measures. The Department also monitors legislation across the country and builds support for ASPCA priorities by crafting opinion pieces, testimony, and action alerts and conducting media interviews that develop the narrative for reform. The team is comprised of Federal Affairs experts based out of Capitol Hill, State Affairs professionals embedded in priority states and covering New York City, Los Angeles County and Miami-Dade County, and Legislative Engagement, a critical support team that activates and engages thousands of volunteers across the nation to support the passage of priority legislation and regulatory reforms on all levels. Legislative Engagement also spearheads strategic ballot campaign work for key issues at the local and state level, cultivating strong volunteer bases and supporting community-based advocacy for animals.
Humane Law Enforcement
ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement (HLE) includes our NYPD Partnership, Community Engagement and Forensic Sciences programs. Its primary objectives are to support the NYPD in facilitating optimal outcomes for animals, providing services and resources that improve pet welfare in key communities and ensuring government agencies are better able to improve animal welfare.
The ASPCA/NYPD Partnership serves to prevent animal cruelty and enforce the laws that protect NYC’s animals. It began citywide in January 2014, when the NYPD took the lead role in responding to all animal cruelty complaints in NYC and the ASPCA expanded its direct care for animal cruelty victims by providing critical support in the form of forensic evaluations, medical treatment, behavior assessments, housing, placement, backup legal support and training. The HLE team trains police officers for response to animal cruelty and provides support and resources for police and pet owners.
The Community Engagement program assists law enforcement, social services, government agencies, veterinarians, animal welfare groups, animal shelters and pet owners in NYC, L.A. and Miami. It aims to coordinate services and access to resources that help pet owners create positive, sustainable change.
The Forensic Sciences team strives to advance the application of veterinary medicine and forensic sciences 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 expertise and 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.
The Legal Advocacy department works to increase legal protections for animals by providing “second chair” legal support to law enforcement and prosecutors to help ensure the successful investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty and animal fighting cases.Legal assistance includes providing guidance to prosecutors and investigators on relevant animal cruelty laws, drafting legal documents, evidence review and witness preparation, and assisting with hearings and trials.
The department also engages in civil litigation and files amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs in cases with the potential to significantly improve legal protections for animals in several key strategic areas, including: pre-conviction forfeiture of seized animals, puppy mills, farm animal welfare, barriers to pet retention, and access to veterinary care. As legislative counsel to the Government Relations department, the department works in many of these same areas, providing drafting expertise and legal analysis of state and federal bills and regulations.
The department’s Puppy Mill Initiative provides subject matter expertise for the ASPCA’s litigation, legislation, and policy work aimed at improving the welfare of commercially bred dogs, and raises awareness about inhumane breeding practices through public education campaigns.
Location Based Initiatives
Location Based Initiatives brings together direct intervention, field response, community engagement and policymaking efforts to maximize our impact in key areas, including Los Angeles and Miami.
In Los Angeles, the ASPCA is implementing our model for saving lives in high-density urban environments that struggle with animal homelessness, an effort that provides resources for both municipal shelters and members of the local communities. In addition to our South Los Angeles Spay/Neuter Clinic, the ASPCA works closely with L.A. County Department of Animal Care and Control’s Baldwin Park and Downey Care Centers to improve animal welfare in the community and serve at-risk animals in the Care Centers.
The ASPCA’s Community Medicine Mobile Spay/Neuter and Primary Pet Care Clinics are present at the Care Centers on designated days to serve the community with spay/neuter and other medical services. The ASPCA’s Community Engagement team is present at the Care Centers daily to assist the community with services for their pets. Our Pee Wee program diverts kittens from the Care Centers to positive outcomes through our volunteer foster home program, adoption locations and through our west coast Animal Relocation program. The ASPCA provides grant funding to the Care Centers to promote adoption of cats and kittens through subsidized adoptions funding. The ASPCA’s grant funding also supports local organizations focusing on spay/neuter, medical care and adoptions.
The ASPCA’s west coast Relocation Program works to move animals from high volume L.A.-area shelters to partner shelters with more kennel space and higher adoption demand.
In the Miami area, the ASPCA is focusing our outreach in areas that have a critical lack of pet-related services and also a high number of homeless animals and animals without shelter. The ASPCA works in and around Liberty City, Miami, in partnership with other local service providers to bring critical resources to pets and people. The Community Veterinary Center, a veterinary services facility, is slated to open in 2019 in Liberty City. The ASPCA Community Engagement team in Miami connects pet owners in need of assistance with their pets to services, including veterinary care, pet houses, pet food and pet supplies. We also work with local law enforcement in the region to support response to cruelty cases.
The ASPCA’s policy work spans across all these initiatives and is foundational in improving the lives of animals. In addition to our policy efforts and direct work with animals and communities, we support animal welfare organizations and rescue groups nationwide, awarding more than $135 million in grants to improve animal welfare since 2008.