ASPCA’s NYC Paws Parade and Adoptapalooza Events Result in 300+ Pet Adoptions

April 13, 2016

ASPCA’s NYC Paws Parade and Adoptapalooza Events Result in 300+ Pet Adoptions

On a chilly morning 150 years after the ASPCA was founded, crowds gathered north of Madison Square Park for the first-ever “NYC Paws Parade,” celebrating ASPCA founder Henry Bergh’s legacy and the efforts of local groups and advocates dedicated to protecting the city’s most vulnerable residents.

Marnie the Dog

Marnie the Dog helps celebrate Adoptapalooza.

In his wildest dreams, Bergh could never have envisioned how far the organization he created would come in 150 years. The youngest son of a wealthy New York City shipbuilder, Bergh addressed a crowd inside the Mercantile Library in February 1866, proposing a declaration for animals which was signed by the city’s most influential citizens.

It wasn’t the easiest of causes. Bergh was often ridiculed, but never deterred. In just two months, on April 10, 1866, the New York State legislature approved the charter incorporating the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. By 1888, the year Henry Bergh died, 37 of the country’s then 38 states had passed animal anti-cruelty laws.

Paws Parade

At the Paws Parade on Sunday, April 10, hundreds of people—including staff and volunteers from the ASPCA, the Alliance for NYC’s Animals, and Animal Care Centers of NYC; Parade Grand Marshal Bernadette Peters and animal welfare advocate Edie Falco; members of the New York Police and Fire Departments; a marching band, a dancing squad and animal rescuers—marched down Broadway from 26th to 17th Streets.

Marching Band

The Marching Cobras and Sapphire Dance Line entertained the crowd.

The parade kicked off two giant “Adoptapalooza” events—one in Union Square and one at House of Vans in Greenpoint, Brooklyn—where cats, dogs and rabbits from local shelters and rescue organizations were showcased for adoption. By the end of the two events, more than 300 animals found loving homes, according to Jane Hoffman, president of the Alliance for NYC’s Animals.

“I am sure if Henry Bergh could see everyone gathered here today, he would be inspired,” said Matt Bershadker, the ASPCA’s 17th President and CEO. “Every adoption, every advocate, every volunteer, every shelter and every rescue makes a difference.”

NYPD Sergeant Amber Cafaro, one of 75 animal cruelty officer liaisons to the ASPCA, helped conceptualize the idea for the parade.


“I wanted everyone to feel appreciated: those who adopt, those who foster, all of these groups,” said Sgt. Cafaro, whose three bulldogs— Prince Romeo, Big Daddy and Little Mama—came dressed for the occasion.So many people worked so hard to make this happen. It’s a truly worthy cause.”

Kings County Assistant District Attorney Arlene Markarian of Brooklyn, who supervises animal abuse cases, brought her family: husband Harold, seven-year-old son Danny, and dog Chelsea.

Anderson Falco, 11, marched with his mother, award-winning actress Edie Falco, eight-year-old sister Macy, and the family’s dogs. “We think it’s good to adopt,” he said, explaining that the family’s dogs, Niko and Sami, were adopted from local shelters.

Edie Falco

Actress Edie Falco with her children, Anderson and Macy, and their dogs, Niko and Sami.

At Union Square, Senator Chuck Schumer, admired for his record of support for animal welfare issues, stopped by to praise the city’s animal groups. “Keep up the good work,” he said. “A society that’s just treats its animals humanely and treats them well.”

Matt Bershadker and Chuck Schumer

ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker, second from left, with Q104.3 DJ Maria Milito, Senator Chuck Schumer and Jane Hoffman, president of the Alliance for NYC’s Animals.

Letitia James, Public Advocate for the City of New York, told the crowd: “We will do whatever we can to protect animals. This is what this city is about! These are our New York values!”

Letitia James

Letitia James, Public Advocate for the City of New York.

Other city leaders in attendance included council member Corey Johnson, Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal.

At both Adoptapalooza events, potential adopters were eager to meet animals and make matches. At the ASPCA’s Mobile Adoption vehicle, volunteer Shari B. said the demand “was fast and furious early on.”

Risa Weinstock, executive director of New York City Animal Care and Control (ACC), said her hopes for the day were “awareness and adopt, adopt, adopt.”


One adopter, Michelle B. of Westchester, came with her husband David, their 7-year-old son, Jack, and her in-laws, Susan and Howard.  Jack chose an ASPCA kitten named Alice as a companion to the family’s other cat, while Alice’s two siblings were adopted by Susan and Howard. “Animals need homes and people need animals, so this all worked out,” Michelle said.

Zoe L. of Queens said she had visited ACC twice during the previous week in search of a cat. She finally met her match at Adoptapalooza, adopting a kitten named Honeybun. “I was determined,” she said.


A lot can change in a century-and-a-half, but one thing that never did was a city’s desire to do right by its most vulnerable animal residents. Henry Bergh may not have imagined how far his message of compassion and action would travel, but he would certainly be thrilled and inspired it did.

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