ASPCA and NYPD Establish Groundbreaking Partnership that Vastly Expands Protections for New York City’s Animals

NYPD will take lead in responding to animal cruelty complaints; ASPCA increases forensics, direct care services for cruelty victims
August 21, 2013

Historic Collaboration Elevates Importance of Preventing Animal Cruelty

NYPD Officer holding pit bull puppy

NEW YORK— The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) announced today a broad strategic collaboration to provide enhanced protection to New York City’s animals by leveraging the strengths and expertise of both organizations. Under the agreement, the NYPD will take the lead role in responding to all animal cruelty complaints in the five boroughs, while the ASPCA will expand its direct care and forensics work to assist law enforcement officials by providing critical support for animal cruelty victims, including forensic evaluations, medical treatment, behavior assessments, housing and placement, as well as backup legal support and training. 

The partnership will officially launch on September 1, beginning with a pilot in the Bronx. The program will expand citywide in early 2014. In the interim, animal cruelty complaints that originate in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island will continue to be handled by agents from the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement department.

With a small group of New York State peace officers, the ASPCA has voluntarily enforced New York State animal cruelty laws in the five boroughs since the organization was founded in 1866. However, the modern realities of New York City life call for a new approach—one that will provide broader protection for the City’s animals. 

“Through this new collaboration, the ASPCA and NYPD together will provide even more effective protection and prevention of cruelty to New York City’s animals,” said Matthew Bershadker, President and Chief Executive Officer of the ASPCA. “The NYPD, which encompasses 77 precincts in the five boroughs, is equipped to do what the ASPCA simply cannot accomplish alone: incorporate the enforcement of animal cruelty laws into routine, everyday law enforcement work; elevate the importance of preventing crimes against animals; and provide necessary resources to combat those crimes. This historic partnership signals to the rest of the country the seriousness of animal cruelty, while potentially serving as a model for other large municipalities.”

Mr. Bershadker continued: “Going forward, we can maximize our ability to impact the most animals at risk by focusing our resources on what we do best, including assisting with undercover operations to expose animal fighting rings and other forms of cruelty, providing triage, ongoing medical care and humane shelter for animal victims, and offering comprehensive legal services to assist in all aspects of a criminal proceeding. The potential of this type of collaboration was clearly evident in last year’s Bronx dog fighting case, which resulted in the arrest of a suspect and the seizure of 50 fighting dogs. In this case, the NYPD led the nearly year-long investigation, while the ASPCA provided critical expert knowledge and services so that the investigation and prosecution of the case had the best chance to succeed.” 

For cases outside of the criminal justice system, the ASPCA will continue to leverage its three-year-old Cruelty Intervention Advocacy (CIA) program that gets to the root causes of suffering, including intervention in cases involving hoarding and the provision of critical resources to pet owners who find themselves and their animals in unstable situations.

Services that the ASPCA will provide to the NYPD include:

  • Forensic services
  • Housing, veterinary care and behavioral evaluation/enrichment for animals seized by the NYPD
  • Adoption assistance
  • Legal backup support
  • Training   
  • Field Assistance

“This partnership is an expansion of the long-standing alliance between the ASPCA and the NYPD and makes best use of the resources of both organizations to strengthen efforts to end cruelty to animals and ensure their welfare. We look forward to significant advances in this ongoing mission,” added Mr. Bershadker. 

To report animal cruelty in New York City, the public is encouraged to call 311. For crimes in progress, individuals should call 911.

NYPD and ASPCA Bronx Dog Fighting Bust