ASPCA Commits to Helping 200,000 Animals Affected by COVID-19

May 7, 2020

ASPCA's COVID-19 Reponse

Back in March, the ASPCA launched the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Initiative, pledging $5 million to assist animal welfare organizations and establish regional pet food distribution centers for pet parents facing economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. As our initiative continues to expand, our goal is to help approximately 200,000 animals nationally. By providing access to free pet food, supplies, veterinary care, emergency boarding, information and crucial funding, we are addressing the most urgent needs of pet owners and animal welfare groups across the country, helping to keep animals safe and healthy and with their families.

“During this incredibly challenging time, people across the world are turning to their pets for comfort and companionship. We are committed to helping animals stay healthy and safe at home with their families by enabling access to critical medical services, pet food and supplies in communities that need them most," said ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker. "These resources will sustain those important family bonds as well as alleviate stress on animal shelters."

The unemployment rate for April 2020 is projected to be as high as 20%. Economic hardship will make it difficult for pet parents to care for their beloved animal companions. In response to the high need for crucial pet food and supplies, the ASPCA has launched regional pet food distribution centers in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles and Asheville, while also supporting local shelters operating their own food distribution centers by providing free pet food for those organizations. These distribution centers are made possible in part by the support of our partners at Petco Foundation, PetSmart Charities, and Stella & Chewy’s. Just this month, Stella & Chewy’s, known for its premium nutritional pet food, generously donated over 800,000 pet food meals. Through our appointment-only programs, we’ve already provided food for more than 40,000 dogs, cats and horses—and that number continues to rise.

In addition to our pet food distribution centers, we helped spearhead an emergency delivery of more than 8,000 pounds of critical pet food to hundreds of dogs in 35 Alaskan villages where access to food and supplies had been cut off as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. 

We are devoted to helping underserved animals and their human companions access crucial veterinary resources—to that end, we have adjusted our range of veterinary care in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles and Asheville, and are deploying mobile clinics to safely provide urgent veterinary care for sick dogs and cats. Since March 17, we have treated more than 2,000 animals through these services. We have also expanded our services in Los Angeles to a second location, thanks to a generous donation from Kathy Taggares, a longtime ASPCA supporter, in an effort to offer additional access to pet food and urgent veterinary services to Los Angeles pet owners.

At the ASPCA Adoption Center in New York City, we are offering emergency temporary boarding for dogs and cats whose owners, due to the COVID-19 crisis, are challenged with providing basic care. The Emergency Boarding Facility has the capacity to care for more than 40 cats and dogs affected by the COVID-19 crisis at any given time.

To further assist New York City residents, we coordinated with the New York City Emergency Management Animal Planning Taskforce to launch the New York City COVID-19 Pet Hotline, a toll-free phone number to connect New York City pet owners with the support, resources and information they need to care for their companions during this time. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has also put homeless animals at-risk by straining essential shelter resources. To assist animal welfare organizations, the ASPCA emergency relief grant program is awarding a minimum of $2 million in lifesaving funding for animal welfare organizations whose programs, operations or fundraising capabilities have been severely impacted by COVID-19. The emergency relief grant program is made possible in part by The Alex & Elisabeth Lewyt Charitable Trust, which donated $500,000 to support the ASPCA’s efforts.

Our relief response speaks to the ASPCA’s longstanding commitment to the animal welfare community and people and their pets. To address challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic, animal shelters have turned to technology to employ innovative techniques for virtual adoptions. On June 5-7, the ASPCA will host a National Adoption Weekend to encourage the public to #AdoptFromHome and help thousands of homeless dogs, cats and horses find safe and loving homes.

In an effort to create better access to crucial services for underserved pet parents and improve the health and welfare of dogs and cats nationwide, we have launched programs and partnerships in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami that make veterinary care more accessible and affordable, and continue to develop initiatives to serve the more than 21 million pets and their families living in poverty nationwide.

You can visit for the most up-to-date information on our response efforts to the coronavirus pandemic.