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

Legendary Pet Fashion Designer Deploys Talents to Respond to COVID-19

(Photo by Ada Nieves)

Always at the ready to devote her love and talents to benefit animals, Ada Nieves, renowned designer of fashions for pets of all species, has taken the opportunity during these unprecedented times to use her talents to save the lives of humans. How? By creating face masks to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

Ada has executed extraordinary runway designs over the years for numerous animal fashion shows and events, including our own personal favorites that have benefited the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s AnimalsThe Algonquin Cat’s Annual Celebration at Manhattan’s storied Algonquin Hotel, and the unparalleled New York Pet Fashion Show, which dazzles audiences at the Hotel Pennsylvania each February. She has now adapted her design enterprise to meet a new and unexpected need during these days of COVID-19.

Enlisting the able assistance of her mom, also named Ada, (apparently the designer gene runs in the family!), Ada Jr.’s prolific mask-making operation is making the world a safer place for humans. We were delighted when Ada reached out to the Alliance to donate masks — many of which have an animal theme — for us to share with volunteers, shelter workers, and pet owners. We’ll make sure these fabulous face masks reach folks who need them!

Visit Ada’s Facebook or Instagram to see some of her great face mask designs!

Face masks by Ada Nieves. (Photos by Jane Hoffman)
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Donated Cage Comforters Ease Transition for Cats Left Homeless by COVID-19

(Photo by The Patricia H. Ladew Foundation)

Several weeks ago we published an article about Susanna Fitzgerald and her generous donation of handmade cage comforters to the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals.

No sooner had Susanna’s shipment arrived that Dr. Susan Whittred of The Patricia H. Ladew Foundation, a private cat rescue organization on Long Island, contacted the Alliance. She had just taken in seven adult cats who had been left homeless after their owner, sadly, succumbed to COVID-19. Fortunately, the owner had designated in her will her wishes for her cats’ care and designated funds from her estate to provide for them in the event of her death.*

We immediately shipped a supply of Susanna’s lovely handmade cage comforters to Dr. Whittred to provide the newly orphaned cats with a softer landing at the Patricia Ladew facility.

New arrivals at The Patricia H. Ladew Foundation’s Long Island shelter practice social distancing on their very own cage comforters provided by Susanna Fitzgerald.

Despite the tragic loss of their former home, the new arrivals (Ladewbies, as Dr. Whittred affectionately refers to them) are acclimating well to their surroundings, under the expert care of Dr. Whittred and her welcoming staff. All of the cats are receiving medical checkups and assessments to ensure they receive any special medical care they might need, including tests, dentals, and medications. In keeping with the former owner’s wishes, any of the cats suitable for adoption will be placed into a loving home.

We are extremely grateful to Susanna for her generous and timely donation of cage comforters. And we applaud The Patricia H. Ladew Foundation for ensuring a new beginning for these beautiful cats.


* New York State law allows pet owners to create a pet trust, where money can be held to provide care for pets after their owner can no longer provide such care, such as in cases of death or incapacity. Similar laws exist in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.To find out how to provide for your pets in the event of your death or hospitalization, check out Providing For Your Pets In The Event of Your Death or Hospitalization, prepared by the The Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

For valuable information about caring for pets of people with COVID-19, refer to Guidance for caretakers for pets of COVID-19 positive patients by Maddie’s® Shelter Medicine Program at Cornell University.

Posted in Alliance Participating Organizations, Cats, Maddie's Fund, Pet Adoption | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alliance Helps NYCEM Launch NYC COVID-19 Pet Hotline


ALERT: As part of the NYC Emergency Management Animal Planning Task Force, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals helped launch the NYC COVID-19 Pet Hotline to provide NYC residents with the emergency resources, support, and information needed to care for their pets during the COVID-19 crisis. If you need assistance, please call the NYC COVID-19 Pet Hotline at (877) 204-8821.

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

Creative Animal Lover Turns Difficult Times Into an Opportunity to Help

Photo by Susanna Fitzgerald

Susanna Fitzgerald is making a difference for NYC’s homeless pets despite the upheavals caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. She recently wrote to the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals about her plans to make cage comforters “during the current craziness. I just ordered some fabric today to support my local sewing shop.” She asked the Alliance to help direct her donations to animal rescue organizations that can use them.

Susanna’s proactive plan demonstrates a sensitive and generous approach to transforming tough times into an opportunity to further the greater good. Not only are her efforts providing much-needed comfort for animals awaiting adoption in local shelters, but also supporting businesses facing extreme financial challenges during these uncertain times. 

We applaud Susanna’s generous and creative initiative, and are excited to be the connector to get the cage comforters into the hands of shelters and rescue organizations that can use them in their shelters and adoption centers now, and on their adoption vans when public adoptions and group events are once again permitted.

If you’d like to take a page from Susanna’s playbook and use some of your down time as you shelter in place on a creative sewing project for for shelter animals, visit our website for step-by-step instructions for sewing cage comforters. Then contact the Alliance at info@AnimalAllianceNYC.org, and we’ll work with you to ensure that your creations reach the animals who need them most.

Update (May 8, 2020): Donated Cage Comforters Ease Transition for Cats Left Homeless by COVID-19

Photos by Susanna Fitzgerald
Posted in Cats, Dogs, Pet Adoption | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment