ASPCA Honors New York’s Finest for Service to City’s Vulnerable Animals

Ten NYPD officers and an assistant district attorney recognized for their extraordinary support of NYPD/ASPCA Partnership
December 16, 2015

NEW YORK—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today honored ten officers from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and one assistant district attorney for their outstanding efforts to support animal cruelty victims through the NYPD/ASPCA Partnership.

The officers and attorney were presented with appreciation awards at a special luncheon held at the ASPCA’s Adoption Center. All honorees were intricately involved in the facilitation of the partnership and played critical roles in the enforcement, investigation and prosecution of animal cruelty and neglect cases over the last two years.     

“This partnership could not have achieved such incredible success without the hard work and expertise of these eleven people,” said Howard Lawrence, Vice President, ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Group. “Their dedication to improving the lives of New York City’s most vulnerable animals is inspiring. The ASPCA and all the animals who were given a second chance are thankful for their continued effort and support.”

Individuals honored at today’s luncheon were:

Sergeant Amber Cafaro, Patrol Borough Manhattan South
Sgt. Cafaro is being recognized as a dedicated force in assisting the NYPD/ASPCA partnership. Sgt. Cafaro monitors and follows up on all animal cases occurring in PBMS and ensures that cases receive a proper disposition. She works closely with the ASPCA and other city agencies to promote the wellbeing of all animals in her command, including taking significant steps to assist the animals of homeless people in her command area. 

Sergeant Tim Cecchini, 75th Precinct
Sgt. Cecchini is being recognized for his dedication to animal cruelty issues and for his strong collaboration with the ASPCA’s Cruelty Intervention Advocacy (CIA) team. Sgt. Cecchini has been extremely supportive of the ASPCA’s presence in the 75th Precinct and has been a great resource and support to ASPCA staff members working in the community.

Captain Frank DiGiacomo, Commanding Officer, 78th Precinct
Capt. DiGiacomo is being recognized for leading a multi-agency seizure and subsequent arrest as part of a large-scale animal cruelty case involving almost 200 rabbits in the 78th Precinct in Brooklyn. Capt. DiGiacomo brought together the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, the ASPCA, Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC), the Department of Health and his own team to rescue the rabbits, who were not spayed or neutered and living in squalid conditions, many suffering from multiple injuries and illnesses. Capt. DiGiacomo displayed tremendous leadership and poise during the complex removal of the animals and provided guidance to a number of city and private agencies.

Police Officer Daniel Gasperetti, 103rd Precinct
Officer Gasperetti is being recognized for his continued assistance with all animal-related matters occurring in his command area. As the precinct animal cruelty liaison, Officer Gasperetti has worked closely with the ASPCA’s CIA team on several cases, including partnering with the Guardians of Rescue organization to build several dog houses for community residents in need.

Assistant District Attorney Jane Grinberg, Richmond County (Staten Island)
ADA Grinberg is being recognized for her dedication to the swift and appropriate prosecution of animal cruelty and neglect cases on Staten Island. ADA Grinberg’s work on the case of Snowflake/Charlotte, a Maltese who was found on the side of the road, suffering from multiple broken bones and traumatic brain injury, was pivotal in the eventual conviction of Alsu Ivanchenko for felony aggravated cruelty to animals. 

Detective Michael Interdonati, 75th Precinct Detective Squad
Det. Interdonati is being recognized for his assistance with animal cruelty investigations occurring in the 75th Precinct. An investigation conducted by Det. Interdonati resulted in the arrest of an individual who repeatedly stabbed a dog during a residential burglary. The dog in this case has made a full recovery and is back with his owner.

Police Officer Christopher Murphy, 109th Precinct
Officer Murphy is being recognized for his dedication and ongoing assistance with all animal-related matters occurring in his command area. As the precinct liaison, Officer Murphy follows up on all animal cruelty related 311 calls and ensures a proper disposition. He has conferred on several complaints of alleged animal cruelty, including one involving a local pet shop.

Police Officer Hope Newcomb, 123rd Precinct 
Officer Newcomb is being recognized for her superior work as the precinct’s animal cruelty liaison. In this role Officer Newcomb follows up on all animal cruelty related 311 calls and ensures they are properly handled. One particular instance involved working with an owner to improve the living conditions of a dog who was being kept outdoors. Officer Newcomb helped to resolve this sensitive issue and improve the dog’s overall well being.

Police Officer Susan Panico, 32nd Precinct 
Officer Panico is being recognized for ongoing work as the 32nd Precinct’s animal cruelty liaison. During her time in this role she has ensured that all animal cruelty related 311 calls are handled in a thorough and timely manner. She also provides a supportive presence at all of the NYPD/ASPCA community outreach and adoption events and is a great resource to ASPCA staff members working in the community.

Detective Nicholas Salvitti, Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad
Det. Salvitti is being recognized for his tenacity in all animal cruelty investigations. His commitment is beyond reproach. A good example is a recent case in late 2015 when a male dropped off a Boxer breed dog at the Queens ACC. The dog was so severely malnourished that he was unable to walk. Although there were no witnesses, Det. Salvitti was able to identify and get a full verbal and video confession from the individual who committed this heinous crime. Furthermore, Det. Salvitti executed a warrant on the location of this crime to obtain more evidence to aid in the prosecution. The dog in this case, named Brewster, has made a remarkable recovery and the perpetrator recently pleaded guilty to felony animal cruelty charges.

Police Officer Dawn Sprague, 44th Precinct.
Officer Sprague is being recognized for her continued assistance with animal abuse cases in the 44th Precinct. In early 2015, she was integral in assisting the ASPCA in the removal of numerous cats from a hoarding situation. She also recently provided crucial assistance in tracking down and arresting an individual who had been witnessed repeatedly kicking a dog in a brutal attack. Officer Sprague not only helped facilitate the arrest, but worked with the district attorney’s office to obtain a search warrant to go back and seize the abused dog.

In January 2014, the NYPD and ASPCA launched a citywide partnership in which the NYPD takes the lead role in responding to all animal cruelty complaints in the five boroughs, and the ASPCA provides direct care support for the victims and conducts police training and forensic analysis. The partnership has broken records, with animal cruelty arrests and animals treated numbers increasing by nearly 200 percent in the first year.