March 10, 2016

Hope and Healing at the ASPCA CARE Ward: Alvin’s Happy Tail

As many of you know, the ASPCA is currently in the third year of a groundbreaking partnership with the New York City Police Department (NYPD). Through this collaboration with law enforcement, we have been able to help rescue more animal victims of neglect and cruelty than ever before. To accommodate this rapid influx of animals, we opened an all-new facility known as the Canine Annex for Recovery and Enrichment, or CARE Ward, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side last fall. Alvin the pit bull was one of the center’s first cases, and today we are thrilled to share his Happy Tail.

The NYPD and the ASPCA rescued Alvin, along with three other dogs and one cat, from extreme cruelty last June. The three-year-old pup’s abuse had left him so weak and emaciated that he couldn’t walk, and he was extremely fearful and uncomfortable around people. After a month of medical care and recovery at the ASPCA Animal Hospital, Alvin was transferred to the CARE Ward so we could begin to treat his emotional wounds, as well.

As soon as Alvin arrived at the CARE Ward, our expert animal behaviorists got straight to work addressing his issues. The 65-lb. pooch would tense up and bark at the sight of strangers, so our team dressed in strange costumes and rewarded him with treats to help him feel at ease. Slowly but surely, Alvin grew more comfortable and began to come out of his shell—even wagging his tail and kissing our behaviorists when they entered the room.

In an interview with the New York Times, ASPCA President & CEO Matt Bershadker said that dogs at the CARE Ward, like Alvin, had been “betrayed by humanity,” and that “they’ve never really been dogs—never chased a ball, never had their tummies rubbed.” Before the CARE Ward, an animal like Alvin might have been disregarded for being too fearful and reactive, but now, thanks to this facility, he had a place to heal. By November, Alvin was happy, healthy and ready to find a home, and thankfully, that’s when we met Patricia C. of the Bronx, New York.

It was Patricia’s first-ever visit to the ASPCA the day she spotted Alvin. She was drawn to the sweet, bouncy boy, and could tell upon meeting him that he was the dog for her. “He is a very special pup,” she said. “We adopted Alvin because we needed love just as much as Alvin needed love—and we just adore him!”

Alvin’s lessons from the CARE Ward carried over to Patricia’s home: he spends a lot of time at the dog park, he loves going on walks and he is spoiled with treats and toys at every turn. “Alvin loves to cuddle and sleep with me,” Patricia beams. “He is our baby.”

We are so thrilled that Alvin’s story has a happy ending, and we know that it might not have been possible without the CARE Ward and the kindness of an adopter like Patricia. Matt Bershadker says, “The center gives its animals a chance to enjoy life as a dog, maybe for the first time,” and we know that in the case of Alvin, life as a dog is finally something worth living. Congratulations!