ASPCA Highlights Resources for Pets During National Night Out

August 4, 2016

National Night Out

The ASPCA’s Michelle Villagomez, NYPD’s Sgt. Maria Sexton and Officer Derika Graham, and the ASPCA’s Jessica Sweeney.

One hundred fifty years after Henry Bergh founded the ASPCA, the organization continues to engage communities across the country in its mission to protect animals.

On Tuesday, August 2, employees from across the organization participated in multiple National Night Out events in the five boroughs of New York City, the ASPCA’s birthplace.

Since National Night Out was established in 1984, more than 38 million people in 16,000 communities have celebrated the alliances between local police and residents that help reduce crime and make neighborhoods safer.

“Our participation allows us to hear directly from members of the community, answer their questions, address their concerns, and have positive conversations about their pets,” says the ASPCA’s Howard Lawrence, Vice President of Humane Law Enforcement. “In doing so, we’re working toward our goal to keep pets and families together.”

Throughout the day, the ASPCA distributed pet care information and free pet supplies at local parks, police precincts and block parties. Residents learned about low cost spay/neuter options (dozens signed up), veterinary services for pets and how to report animal cruelty. 

Allison Cardona and Ann Marie Connell in Bronx precinct 44

ASPCA’s Allison Cardona and Ann Marie Connell in Bronx precinct 44.

“This is an excellent opportunity to remind the community that we’re a resource for them not just on this day, but year-round,” said Erin Earley, Senior Manager of Community Services and Engagement for the ASPCA’s Cruelty Intervention Advocacy (CIA) team. Erin coordinated the ASPCA’s participation and split her day between events in Brooklyn and Staten Island.

ASPCA staff routinely work in neighborhoods with limited resources for pets to ensure that residents have access to supplies and services for their animals. The ASPCA also operates an Adoption Center, Animal Hospital, two stationary spay/neuter clinics and multiple mobile clinics that provide free/low-cost spay/neuter surgery for dog and cat owners.  

In Harlem, at a block party in front of the 32nd precinct, Sgt. Maria Sexton watched as children turned cartwheels and lobbed footballs, while vendors offered free hot dogs and Italian ices.

“This promotes positive interactions among neighbors,” observed Sgt. Sexton, a 16-year veteran of the NYPD. “And when it comes to neglect and abuse cases, neighbors are our eyes and ears, speaking out to do the right thing to protect animals.” 

Bently gets attention from toddler Ulysses

Bently, a 3-year-old Yorkie owned by Jada N. of Harlem, gets attention from toddler Ulysses at the Harlem event.

Ariana S. and her daughters, Shaniya, 9, and Kailey, 1, visited the ASPCA table for information on adopting a dog, which they plan to do in September. Jada N.’s Yorkie, Mr. Bently, 3, drew the attention of children, including a toddler named Ulysses, who reached down to pet the wiggly dog.

“We enjoy meeting local residents,” said the ASPCA’s NYC Legislative Senior Director Michelle Villagomez, who lobbies on behalf of animals. “We often meet key people who can be influential in getting laws passed; it’s a bonus for us when they support animal issues.” One such VIP was Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer, who spoke at the event and met with Michelle and her co-worker, Jessica Sweeney, Administrative Manager for the CIA program, which often liaises with the NYPD to help at-risk pets.

Jessica Sweeney in precinct 32 with Harlem resident Ariana S. and daughters, Shaniya and Kailey.

ASPCA’s Jessica Sweeney in precinct 32 with Harlem resident Ariana S. and daughters, Shaniya and Kailey.

“By supporting National Night Out, we’re continuing to build on our already strong relationship with the NYPD,” said Lawrence. “Many of our programs play an important role by providing much needed resources in areas that are ‘resource deserts.’ And police are very often the referral source for this work.” 

In 2014, the ASPCA established an official partnership with the NYPD. Through this first-of-its-kind program, the NYPD takes the lead role in responding to all animal cruelty complaints in New York City, while the ASPCA provides direct care for animal cruelty victims which includes forensic evaluations, medical treatment, behavior assessments, housing and placement, as well as backup legal support and training.

“The ASPCA is involved in recognizing and preventing crimes against animals,” added Lawrence.  “And events like this mean making communities safer places for pets as well as people.”