Prepare Your Pets for Hurricane Season. Microchips Are Key.

September is National Preparedness Month

As we’ve already seen as Hurricane Laura has battered the Gulf Coast region and torn through inland communities, the threat is real. This year, as we anticipate unusual challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s especially important that people with pets be informed and prepared to respond to weather-related emergencies that threaten our area with little warning.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the U.S. is facing “one of the most active hurricane seasons on record,” warning that there may be as many as 25 named storms and 11 hurricanes, including six that may be “major.”

Memories of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated many New York City and surrounding area neighborhoods in 2012, remind us that preparing ahead of the storm can help mitigate the dangers to people and their pets.

As a member of the Animal Planning Task Force of NYC Emergency Management since 2006, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals has worked with the City of New York and numerous task force partners over the years to create and implement a comprehensive plan to keep New Yorkers and their pets safe when disaster strikes. We encourage you to read the informative Ready New York: My Pet’s Emergency Plan, (also available in other languages and audio format) on the NYC.gov website. You’ll find a great deal of useful information to help you:

• Make an emergency plan that includes all members of your family, including your pets.
• Provide your pets with adequate identification (including microchips for dogs and cats and licenses for dogs) to help reunite them with you should you become separated;
• Prepare a “go bag” that contains the supplies and information you’ll need to have close at hand should you and your pets need to evacuate your home;
• Discover other helpful tips, which you might not have considered.

In the event that the City’s emergency shelter system is opened, and you cannot shelter your pets at a kennel or with friends or relatives outside the evacuation area, pets are allowed at all City evacuation centers.

We encourage you to check out the Alliance’s Prepare Your Pets for Emergencies page for additional links to a wealth of information from a range of emergency preparedness expert sources, including American Red Cross, American Veterinary Medical Association, ASPCA, Department of Homeland Security, FEMA, Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), RedRover, and others.

The HSUS video, Evacuate your pets safely during COVID-19, provides some useful preparedness tips:

Are Your Pets Microchipped?

The Alliance has always been an ardent advocate for having pets microchipped, as it is one of the best ways to increase a pet’s chances of being reunited with his or her owner if they become separated — which is a real possibility during a disaster. That’s why we featured free microchipping clinics at most Alliance adoption events over the years.

In addition to the Alliance website, Michelson Found Animals provides excellent information about microchipping. We encourage you to check out both resources to discover important facts that you might not know. For example, did you know that the most important step in microchipping your pet is to register your pet’s microchip with a microchip registry, and to update the information whenever you change your address or phone number?

Caroline Laxton, Eastern U.S. Regional Manager for Michelson Found Animals, explains: “A microchip is the only form of permanent ID for your pet and is imperative for your pet’s safety. Although collars and tags are just as important, they can fall off, or get taken off when a pet is lost. A microchip allows your pet to be reunited with you with or without a tag. However, contrary to popular belief, a microchip is not a GPS device — it won’t tell you the location of your pet should he or she get lost.”

Caroline explained that when a pet is found and their microchip is scanned, a 9-digit numeric number, 10-digit alphanumeric number, or a 15-digit numeric number shows up on the microchip scanner. In order for whomever found your pet to be able to connect that 9-, 10-, or 15-digit number back to you, your pet’s microchip must be registered with your current contact information in a National Microchip Registry. If you can’t find your pet’s microchip number, your local vet clinic or animal shelter will be able to scan them and provide you with their chip number so you may then register their chip or ensure their chip registration is up-to-date. Think of your pet’s microchip number as their social security number; always keep it in a safe place.

Some microchip registries charge a fee for registering a microchip and updating your contact information, or provide limited reunification communications if a pet owner doesn’t participate in one of their paid memberships; but other registries, such as Michelson Found Animals, offer free microchip registrations and updates for the life of your pet. No matter what brand of microchip your pet has, you may freely register them at Found.org and include not just your contact information, but also two emergency contacts and your pet’s veterinary clinic info. Being able to add these extra contacts gives your pet every opportunity to make it safely back to you if they are lost, especially if you can’t be reached in a natural disaster / emergency situation.

While having your pet protected with a registered microchip is extremely important as a permanent means of identifying your pet, we also recommend having an external ID, such as a dog tag displaying your phone number, affixed to his or her collar. If your dog is found running loose, this can save a Good Samaritan a trip to the vet clinic or local animal shelter to get them scanned for a microchip, so it’s critical that your current phone number is on the tag, and better yet, your current phone number and address.

Stay safe, New Yorkers, and be prepared. And let’s hope we’ve already seen the worst 2020 can bring our way!

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Volunteers Direct Facebook Ads to Help Homeless Pets

Longtime Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals volunteer, Nick Kavanagh — a familiar face at many past Alliance events — is helping animal shelters and rescue groups gain greater traction from their Facebook outreach. Nick and his colleague, Alexa Millstein, work at Facebook, where this tech-savvy “dynamic duo” developed a special program to provide free advertising to pet adoption groups active on Facebook. Their goal is to help the groups boost posts to broaden the reach of their animals for adoption and to raise awareness and money to support their programs and activities.

Nick reached out to the Alliance to connect him with NYC-area animal rescue organizations that are active on Facebook. We researched Facebook activity of numerous groups and identified those that appeared to be good prospects for the program. We made the introductions, and Nick and Alexa took it from there. The program they offer is simple, but the potential benefits to the groups are huge. Here’s how: Facebook gives each full-time employee $250 per month in ad credits to use at their discretion. Nick and Alexa coordinate with other Facebook staffers to pool their unused ad credits and channel these credits to animal welfare organizations — up to $1,000 per organization.

“Alexa and I both adore animals, and we were concerned at the start of the pandemic that the economic downturn could result in families having to make the terrible decision of dropping their cherished pets off at shelters, resulting in an occupancy crisis,” explained Nick. “Thankfully, one of the bright spots in this world is people’s enduring love for their pets, and adoption and foster rates are up across most shelters. This has allowed us to pivot from adoption lead strategies to things like fundraising and education initiatives with individual organizations. Long story short, we’re happy to do whatever we can to help the animals. We know they’d do the same for us if they could.”

The dynamic duo has made participation easy for the groups by providing all the guidance and technical expertise needed to require only minimal effort by each group. So far, Bideawee, Cleveland Animal Protective League, Flatbush Cats, Humane Society of the Ochocos, Muddy Paws Rescue, Pet Evacuation Team, Sean Casey Animal Rescue, SPCA of Westchester, and Zani’s Furry Friends are working with the team.

“It’s an honor to be given this incredible opportunity to team up with the Alliance and Facebook,” said Shannon Laukhuf, Executive Director of the SPCA of Westchester. “This generous partnership has enabled our organization to reach new friends and supporters with just one click! Nick’s passion for animal welfare is very apparent and he truly went above and beyond to understand our needs and to create an effective and heartwarming ad for the SPCA of Westchester. In a very short time we’ve already obtained new donors and have reached a great number of potential supporters and adopters for the future. Our deepest thanks to Nick, Facebook, and the Alliance for their kindness and for giving back to the community and supporting homeless animals is need.”

Anna Lai, Marketing Director for Muddy Paws Rescue, voiced her appreciation for the results her organization has achieved since beginning the program. “Muddy Paws Rescue is operating in such challenging times, and to be able to reach new audiences is crucial to our fundraising efforts so that we can continue our lifesaving mission throughout the pandemic and beyond. So far, our team is delighted to see an increase in engagement across social media as well as traffic on our donation platform.”

The Alliance is extremely grateful to Nick and Alexa for sharing their vision, talents, and Facebook ads with animal rescue groups and shelters, ultimately helping these organizations save the lives of more homeless dogs, cats, and other pets. We are pleased to have had the opportunity to connect the team with NYC-area pet adoption groups. Our role as connector will continue to be a major part of our mission moving forward. We hope you will read about our mission and goals for 2020 and support our efforts to improve the lives of NYC’s animals and the people who care for them!

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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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