The Human-Animal Bond in Action

(Photos by Sarah & Neil and Animal Care Centers of NYC)

If ever there was a time that demonstrates the unquestionable bond between humans and animals and the essential role animal companions play in our lives, now is that time. As the pandemic swept across the globe, bringing fear, uncertainty, and anxiety into our lives, reports of people turning to their pets for comfort have became commonplace.

When Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) announced in March a need for 200 new foster families to help manage the shelters’ population during the city’s shutdown, 2,000 people answered the call. Some wanted to foster. Others wanted to adopt. Mirroring reports from across the country, the number of fosters and adoptions have skyrocketed as newly hunkered-down humans sought out the ideal antidote for anxiety — a furry, four-legged family member.

NYC Emergency Management’s Animal Planning Task Force, which guides the city’s response to emergencies involving animals (and in which the Alliance has participated since its inception in 2006) demonstrated NYC’s recognition of the critical role the human-animal bond plays in the lives of thousands of New York City pet owners during these extraordinary times. The task force has worked to preserve that bond during these uncertain times by instituting various support initiatives], including a COVID-19 Pet Hotline, food giveaways, and hands-on support for pet owners infected with the virus. Christine Kim, Senior Community Liaison for the Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare, recently described the city’s commitment to maintaining the human-animal bond: “In order to keep people and their animals together, we have ensured that animals are included in the safety net we have created for all New Yorkers.”

Over the past months, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals has been contacted by many New Yorkers about a range of issues demonstrating their deep connections with their pets. One grieving pet owner, Sarah, contacted us to let us know that her little white dog, Mason, who she and her husband Neil had adopted at Adoptapalooza in 2013, had recently crossed the Rainbow Bridge. The family was heartbroken, and wanted to honor Mason’s memory by donating his unopened food, puppy pads, and other supplies to help a dog in need. Several days later, Sarah and Neil rescued a stranded baby sparrow nestling on the curb near their apartment and took her it to the Wild Bird Fund. As a tribute to their beloved companion, they asked that the Wild Bird Fund name the fledgling “Mason.”

Words sometimes cannot fully convey the deep and powerful bond that exists between humans and animals. Actions, however, can bring that remarkable connection to life. During these extremely challenging times, it’s important to celebrate those actions and recognize how potent the human-animal bond is in all of our lives.

Posted in Alliance Participating Organizations, Animal Care & Control of NYC, Dogs, Events & Campaigns, Pet Adoption | Leave a comment

Alliance’s Targeted Transports Fill Gaps for NYC Rescue Community

(Photos by Wildlife Freedom Foundation, Joe Galka, Patricia H. Ladew Foundation)

Recently the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals received a generous donation of dog food from a thoughtful donor looking to help animals during the coronavirus crisis. We reached out to Healthy Pets Project of NYC, an organization that helps NYC pet owners in crisis care for their pets, and offered them the food, which they were delighted to accept. So we arranged for one of our longtime transport drivers to deliver the food to its destination, where it will be distributed to clients of the Healthy Pets Project of NYC.

In keeping with our focus for 2020, the Alliance is providing limited transport — not for the general public, but for local rescue groups and other animal welfare organizations that have transport needs that fall outside the criteria for the Best Friends Northeast Transport Program and Bideawee’s NYC Feral Cat Initiative transports. By providing these limited transports, the Alliance is filling gaps in transport and, in doing so, is helping our partners achieve successful outcomes for the animals in their care.

Looking back on happier days before the arrival of COVID-19, we provided transport for other organizations that needed it.

For example, when the Wildlife Freedom Foundation, a rescue organization on Roosevelt Island, needed transport to get an injured goose to a wildlife rehabilitator on Long Island, they called the Alliance for assistance. When a family in the Bronx needed to give up their three-pound Chihuahua, April, and reached out to the Wildlife Freedom Foundation for help, the rescue group in turn contacted the Alliance for advice and assistance with vetting and transport.

And when the Patricia H. Ladew Foundation, a cat rescue organization on Long Island, needed to transport a special needs cat named Jose to a great permanent home, they contacted the Alliance for help.

While Alliance transports are not available to the public, and are available only to the NYC rescue community on a limited basis, we are pleased to offer assistance as part of our role as a provider of limited services, resources, and guidance to local animal rescue groups and shelters. We look forward to filling in the gaps when necessary to ensure our partners’ needs continue to be met during the current crisis and beyond.

Posted in Alliance Participating Organizations, Helping Pets and People in Crisis, Pet Adoption, Safety/Emergency, Wheels of Hope/Transport | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wild Bird Fund Continues to Care for Orphaned Wildlife Despite Pandemic

Wild Bird Fund - Photos by Fred Cohen, Catherine Quayle, Phyllis Tseng

When the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals’ long-time partner, Wild Bird Fund, announced the non-official holiday, Pigeon Appreciation Day, on June 13, some New Yorkers probably were scratching their heads and wondering, “What’s that?” Although not a well-known holiday, it has a growing following, and is observed across the globe — from New York to London to Canada and Bangladesh.

Wild Bird Fund, New York City’s local “pigeon hospital,” and the city’s only medical and rehabilitation center devoted to the care of sick and injured birds and other wildlife, offered some suggestions for commemorating this up-and-coming holiday, including saying hello to every pigeon you meet and offering them raw sunflower seeds.

Throughout the COVID-19 lockdown in New York City, Wild Bird Fund’s Upper West Side hospital has remained open, having been designated an essential service from day one. The facility’s dedicated team has continued to treat NYC’s sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife over the past months, as caring New Yorkers have continued to bring a variety of species of wildlife requiring medical care to the center.

One compassionate New Yorker recently contacted the Alliance seeking help with a situation involving a baby pigeon (also known as a “squab”). While removing the covering on her terrace furniture, she discovered a nest with a mother and baby pigeon. She was careful not to disturb the mom and baby, but a few days later, the mom disappeared and sadly didn’t return. Recognizing that the baby could not survive without the mother, she reached out for help.

Alliance President Jane Hoffman received the call and acted quickly to get the baby pigeon to safety. Donning a facemask and gloves, she headed over to the woman’s apartment, collected the nest holding the baby pigeon, and made her way to the Wild Bird Fund hospital at 565 Columbus Avenue.

“The woman made a generous donation to the Wild Bird Fund, which she sent along with the nest and baby and her gratitude that the baby was going to get the help she needed,” said Jane.

Jane added that while the Wild Bird Fund was conducting its intake of the pigeon, another compassionate New Yorker showed up with a carrier holding an orphaned baby squirrel. “Clearly, New Yorkers are willing to brave a pandemic to help animals in need,” Jane said.

The Wild Bird Fund’s mission is twofold: 1) to provide medical care and rehabilitation to injured, ill, and orphaned wildlife of New York City in order to release them back to the wild; and 2) to educate New Yorkers about the rich diversity of the city’s wildlife and how to help them thrive. They are a nonprofit 501(c)(3) and the only wildlife rehabilitation facility in New York City. Each year the Wild Bird Fund rehabilitates more than 7,000 animals.

The Alliance has a long relationship with Wild Bird Fund, having sponsored the Flocktail Party fundraiser in years past, and having often provided transport of injured wildlife to the hospital over the years. We encourage New Yorkers to support the organization’s vital work to ensure its continued success in caring for some of the city’s Wildest Little New Yorkers!

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Alliance Channels Fashionable Face Masks to Frontline Shelter Workers

Kina Wu from Animal Haven and Diane Gauld from Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) model face masks made and donated by Ada Nieves.

We were thrilled when pet fashion legend Ada Nieves donated a supply of her handmade face masks to the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals to share with our rescue partners and volunteers. The stylish accessories have great fashion appeal, but more important, can help reduce transmission of the coronavirus. So when we received a shipment of masks from Ada, we immediately contacted Animal Haven, one of our rescue partners that is doing amazing work in the community assisting pet owners struggling with the challenges of the pandemic.

Our friends at Animal Haven enthusiastically accepted the donation, and distributed them among the shelter’s staff members who are on the front lines caring for the animals at the shelter.

“We are so grateful for the donations from the community during this crisis and these masks are so stylish and fun,” said Jenny Coffey, Animal Haven’s Director of Community Engagement. “We always believed Ada had a special knack for dressing Chihuahuas — her new line raises the bar for the entire animal welfare community!”

Not only is Animal Haven directly assisting COVID-19-affected members of the community by taking in displaced pets, but Jenny helps to lead the resource desk of the NYC COVID-19 Pet Hotline launched by NYC Emergency Management and its Animal Planning Task Force, where she navigates some of the more complicated hotline cases that require more challenging animal placements.

We also donated several of Ada’s masks to Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC), via Diane Gauld, former Alliance staffer who, up until last year, organized Adoptapalooza, and is currently a Veterinary Technician on the medical staff at ACC.

Once again we extend our sincere appreciation to Ada and her mother, Ada Sr., for generously donating their beautiful face masks to help keep the NYC frontline shelter workers safe. And we also applaud those valiant frontline workers who are working tirelessly to care for NYC’s animals during this unprecedented crisis.

Posted in Alliance Participating Organizations, Animal Care & Control of NYC, Events & Campaigns, Safety/Emergency | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Alliance Works with Animal Planning Task Force to Assist During Pandemic

NYC Emergency Management Animal Planning Task Force 2020

When disaster strikes New York City, the Animal Planning Task Force (APTF) of NYC Emergency Management is on the front line to help pets and pet owners weather the storm. These days, that storm is the COVID-19 pandemic, and with New York at its epicenter, the APTF has been hard at work to help pet owners cope with extraordinary challenges posed by this unprecedented global crisis.

The Task Force is a partnership between City agencies and nonprofit organizations, including the American Red Cross, Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC), Animal Haven, ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, Bideawee, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, New York City Veterinary Emergency Response Team (NYC VERT), New York State Animal Protection Federation (NYSAPF), and PAWS NY.

As a longtime member of the APTF, the Alliance is working with our nonprofit and government partners — including the recently created Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare — to develop responses to assist pet owners in need of current, accurate information, pet food and supplies, and support services, including care of pets whose caretakers become ill or succumb to COVID-19.

Dealing with a crisis that literally affects everyone on the planet is a far cry from responding to a local or regional emergency, such as a hurricane. New York City’s Disaster Animal Response Plan (DARP), which was created by the APTF working under the guidance of NYC’s Emergency Management, provided a blueprint for responding to Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012. But the scope and physical nature of the COVID-19 pandemic requires a new set of plans and responses, and so an alternate plan — the COVID-19 Pet Response Plan — has been developed, under the leadership of Christine Kim, Senior Community Liaison for Animal Welfare with the NYC Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare. NYC’s COVID-19 Pet Response Plan is the first of its kind in the country.

The plan details responses to the most pressing needs of NYC pet owners during this crisis. Among its components:

  • NYC COVID-19 Pet Hotline: NYC Emergency Management and the Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare announced the launch of the NYC COVID-19 Pet Hotline on April 28. The hotline, staffed by ASPCA employees, serves as an information, planning, referral, and service coordination hub for NYC residents who need support for their pets during the pandemic. Hotline operators can be reached at 877-204-8821, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily.

    The Hotline has fielded hundreds of calls since its launch. Hotline operators help mitigate people’s questions and concerns about keeping their pets during the COVID-19 crisis, help callers identify solutions to meet their own individual needs, and connect callers to pet relief resources, such as subsidized emergency veterinary care and pet food and supply distribution services.

    For NYC residents with pets requiring a higher level of care, cases are escalated to a second tier resource desk, collaboratively managed by Animal Haven, ACC, and HSUS, for coordination of temporary placement or supplemental care of their pets. This level of coordination is particularly important for pet owners who are hospitalized and have no personal resources to care for their pets in their absence.
  • Public Messaging: A COVID-19 and Animals FAQ informational factsheet available in multiple languages was developed to answer pet owners’ questions concerning COVID-19 pet-related issues. APTF member organizations have promoted the factsheet via their promotional channels, including social media platforms. Additionally, flyers promoting the NYC COVID-19 Pet Hotline are being distributed on social media, and physical flyers are available at numerous locations throughout the city, especially in the city’s hardest hit neighborhoods.
  • Free Pet Food Distribution: In March, the ASPCA established a free pet food distribution network to serve residents of all five boroughs. Food pickup at designated locations is available by appointment. In some areas, curbside delivery is available. Social distancing restrictions and guidelines are in place to protect the health and safety of ASPCA employees and their clients. Pet owners looking to access free pet food should call the NYC COVID-19 Pet Hotline at (877) 204-8821.
  • Pet Care: Through the collaborative efforts of ACC, ASPCA, HSUS, and the NYSAPF, protocols are in place to respond in cases where a pet owner is hospitalized and unable to arrange for feeding and care for their pets who have been left alone at home or in cases in which a pet owner has died without having a plan in place for caring for their pets. These protocols provide for feeding cats in place in their home until the owner returns, placing dogs in temporary boarding, or, sadly, if the owner dies, placing the pets for adoption.

As we continue to collaborate with the City and work alongside our partners on the APTF, we will develop new resources to meet the evolving needs of NYC’s pets and their people. While we strongly urge pet owners to plan ahead for their pets’ care in the event of their temporary absence or death, the City’s COVID-19 Pet Response Plan provides a safety net to ensure the best possible outcome for every NYC pet who needs assistance.

For information or assistance, call the NYC COVID-19 Pet Hotline: (877) 204-8821, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily.

Posted in Animal Care & Control of NYC, Helping Pets and People in Crisis, Pet Fostering, Safety/Emergency | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment