ASPCA Expands Reach in NYC With NYPD’s Help

For the past 147 years, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has responded to animal cruelty complaints in New York City. Now, thanks to a partnership with the NYPD, they'll have a little help in completing their mission.

For generations, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has been the go-to organization to report animal abuse in New York City. (In fact, that’s where the nationwide organization was founded in 1866.)

But starting next month, the ASPCA’s role in handling these cases will change, thanks to a new collaboration with the New York Police Department. More details below:

Why the change? In a New York Times report, the association says the reason for the partnership is to speed up response time. While police have always handled animal cruelty complaints called in to 911, the association said it typically investigates about 4,000 such complaints a year. Though the ASPCA has animal-welfare expertise, its 17 enforcement officers were stretched thin. “We were not getting to cases for days or weeks,” said ASPCA president and CEO Matthew Bershadker. “The NYPD’s policy, their practice, is to clear all complaints within eight hours.”

How it’ll work: Starting September 1, the NYPD will begin handling animal-cruelty cases in the Bronx as a pilot program to test the approach. Meanwhile, the ASPCA will continue to take on cases in the other boroughs. If successful, the program will expand citywide by early 2014. After the transition, the NYPD will respond to complaints and the association will work in a consulting role, which will help broaden the reach of both organizations on animal welfare issues.

The turning point: This collaboration didn’t happen by accident. Last year, the association and the NYPD worked together on a case in the Bronx in which 47 dogs (mostly pit bulls) were seized in the takedown of a dog-fighting ring. Most of the animals had injuries consistent with fighting. In a press release, Bershadker said the incident showed the partnership’s potential. “In this case, the NYPD led the nearly year-long investigation, while the ASPCA provided critical expert knowledge and services so that the investigation and prosecution of the case had the best chance to succeed,” he noted.

How have collaborations helped expand your association’s reach? Let us know your take in the comments below.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!