Matt’s Blog: A Commitment to Animals and Owners Affected by COVID-19

March 24, 2020

a woman holding a small brown and white dog

By Matt Bershadker, ASPCA CEO

As the COVID-19 crisis intensifies, so too does the severe challenge this growing outbreak presents for pet owners and animal welfare organizations across the country, including dwindling resources to care for their animals. Animal shelters, in particular, are dealing with staff shortages and new social distancing directives, while pet owners are coping with unprecedented financial and resource challenges. 

The ever-growing impact of this outbreak on pets, owners and animal welfare organizations has begged a constant question within the animal welfare community: What can we do?

Even in this atmosphere of intense anxiety, this is not a time to feel helpless or hopeless. How we respond to this crisis – whether it’s a large organization operating on a national level, a small shelter working hard to rehome their residents, or a family fostering a new dog or cat – reflects our compassion and appreciation of the invaluable role pets play in our lives, especially in times of great stress.

As a 154-year-old organization, we’re no stranger to operating through the challenges of natural disasters, world wars, or even past pandemics. The ASPCA is responding to this outbreak with a new emergency initiative that will directly help animal welfare organizations and owners during the turbulent and challenging months ahead.

Announced this week, the ASPCA has launched a $5 million ASPCA COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Initiative that will distribute lifesaving grants to animal welfare organizations and establish regional pet food distribution centers across several states. 

Working in collaboration with the Petco Foundation and pet food producer Blue Buffalo (with more partners to be announced), the initiative will create regional pet food distribution centers, starting first in New York City, with others to follow in Miami, Los Angeles and North Carolina. At these centers, dog and cat owners will be able to access critical and free pet food supplies. 

The ASPCA will also grant $2 million to animal welfare organizations hit hard by this crisis. These grants will help pay for essential lifesaving services such as safety net programs, adoption/foster programs and basic veterinary care, all of which are proving to be vital services during this outbreak. 

Across the world, people are turning to their pets for comfort, and we are committed to helping animals return that love and comfort back to their families by working with our partners to ensure their health and safety.

When this crisis ends – and it will – I believe we will be stronger, wiser, and more compassionate as a result of the courageous work being done by so many right now.

Thank you for being kind to animals, to each other, and to yourselves. Please visit for more information about how you can help.