A New Year for You and the Animals

New year’s resolutions to make the world a better place for animals.

As we head toward the end of January, how many of your new year’s resolutions have you stuck with? Or did you even bother to make them at all?

If your best intentions fell by the wayside, or if you avoided the disappointment of not living up to your goals by not setting any, we’ve got a few suggestions that will not only improve your world, but also will make the world a better place for animals.

Treat your best friend to a new adventure.

We all enjoy a satisfying new activity, and that goes for our animal companions as well. While routine is important for keeping our pets content, shaking up that routine can add enrichment to their days. Give your dog an extra walk each day, or vary your walking route. Add an extra play session, or try out a new dog park. Treat your cat to a new interactive toy, such as a cat dancer or laser pointer – something that not only engages her imagination but also carves out more quality time you can share. Your rabbit will likely enjoy exploring paper bags or cardboard boxes for crawling inside, or playing with cardboard rolls from paper towels or toilet paper. New activities can help to de-stress and relieve boredom for you and your pets. Be creative!

Extend your goodwill to shelter pets.

Shelters and rescue groups are always looking for volunteers to walk dogs, socialize cats and kittens, or provide foster care. Whether you want to make a commitment to volunteering at a shelter weekly or monthly, or welcoming a homeless pet into your home to help prepare him for adoption (and free up space at a shelter to enable it to save more animals), you’ll discover that your act of generosity will enrich your life as well as the lives of the animals you help.

Help community cats.

No matter where you live, you’re probably only a stone’s throw from a colony of outdoor community cats that depend upon dedicated volunteers to care for them. Chances are you already know someone who is feeding and caring for a colony, large or small. You might start by providing an extra set of hands for an experienced TNR caretaker who can teach you the ropes. Bideawee’s Feral Cat Initiative, a program created by the Alliance and now managed by Bideawee, can help you get started. Visit their website to learn more.

Give a fellow pet owner a hand.

Somewhere along the way you’ve no doubt relied upon the kindness of a stranger to get through a tight spot. Why not pay it forward and offer to help someone who might be struggling to care for his or her pet? 

Perhaps you know an older adult or an individual living with illness or disability who is having trouble managing routine care for their pets. Offering to walk their dog, change their cats’ litter box, or take their pet to the vet can be a tremendous help for them – and might even make the difference between keeping their beloved companion in their home or giving them up for adoption. 

If you don’t know of someone who can use assistance, you can volunteer with an organization like PAWS NY, which provides services to vulnerable New Yorkers who need support caring for their pets. 

New years and their accompanying resolutions come and go, but kindness and generosity are forever. If you already are practicing some of our suggestions, we salute you! If not, we hope you will consider giving some of our ideas a try. And please check out the Want to Help? section on our website for more ideas that can make your 2023 more memorable and satisfying!

Looking to adopt a new companion this year? Adopt a Little New Yorker Today!. Pet adoption is rewarding and life-changing – but chances are you already know that!

Need help with a pet-related issue? If you or someone you know is looking for resources to help care for a pet or other pet-related needs, please visit our website’s Need Help? section. Or email us at info@animalalliancenyc.org.

Posted in Alliance Participating Organizations, Cats, Dogs, Feral Cats & TNR, Helping Pets and People in Crisis, Pet Adoption, Pet Care & Training, Pet Fostering, Rabbits | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

How You Can Help Make the Holidays Bright

Having survived 2020, one would think that any year would be an improvement. And in many ways, circumstances have improved for many people and their pets over the past two years. But plenty of new challenges have arisen from the ashes of 2020. And now, many people and animals are struggling with post-pandemic problems.  

Animal shelters and rescue groups are hovering at or beyond capacity after people who adopted pets during the pandemic are now giving them up because of increasing costs of pet care, loss of housing, or returning to in-person work. Donations to animal charities are down as people struggle to make ends meet in a challenging economy.

Many pet owners, especially seniors and low-income families on fixed or shrinking incomes, are struggling to feed and provide veterinary care for their beloved pets. Exacerbating the problem is a nation-wide shortage of veterinarians and vet techs, which has made getting even routine vet care and spay/neuter surgeries a challenge. 

Mental health issues and homelessness are on the rise – creating additional challenges for people and their pets.

Now, another holiday season is upon us, and many people are asking what can I do to bring about positive change?

Our suggestion: Make a list, and check it twice. Then do it!

Adopt a pet. Given the struggles many people have keeping their pets these days, that might sound tone-deaf. But it’s not – the fact is, plenty of people have the will and the means to add a new member to their family. Just be sure if you adopt that you’re prepared for the lifetime commitment. Consider adopting a senior or special needs pet – they need homes just as much as any other pet. 

Foster. Fostering for a shelter or rescue group is truly lifesaving. Many rescue organization rely exclusively upon foster volunteers to care for their animals. Fostering a pet for a crowded shelter increases their capacity to save lives. Additionally, donating to rescue organizations helps them to accomplish more and save more lives. 

Volunteer at a shelter to help overworked staff members provide dog walks, cat socializing, and other critical services for the animals in their care. 

Donate to your local shelter or rescue groups. Pet food, supplies, and monetary donations are desperately needed by many rescue organizations faced with rising costs and shrinking budgets. To learn about the many ways you can donate to Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC), visit  https://www.nycacc.org/get-involved/donate.

Help someone close to home. Just look around at your circle of family, friends, and neighbors. Is there a senior or disabled person who needs help walking their dog or changing the cat litter…buying pet food or taking their pet to a vet appointment? A simple act of kindness can go a long way to easing the burden for a pet owner in need of help. 

Volunteer for an organization that provides pet care assistance to needy populations, such as PAWS NYDonate to Feeding Pets of the Homeless, which focuses on feeding and providing emergency care to pets of homeless people. Donate pet food or supplies to a local shelter that runs a pet food pantry or other services for pet owners.

During the holidays it’s easy to become caught up in activities that enrich our own experience and those of our family and friends. But by looking beyond our immediate orbit and expanding our capacity for good will, each of us can have a positive impact on someone who needs help.

Throughout the year, the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals has been privileged to connect hundreds of people with services and resources to meet their needs as caring and responsible pet owners. We routinely hear from people who have not been able to locate resources or get the information they need to care for their pets. We have endeavored to help create positive outcomes for New York City’s pets and the people who love them. But we cannot do it alone. We are so grateful to our loyal supporters who make it possible for us to continue our work. You are our heroes, and champions for New York City’s animals. To you and your family, we wish safe and healthy holidays. And may your new year be filled with hope and good fortune!

Posted in Animal Care & Control of NYC, Cats, Dogs, Pet Adoption, Pet Fostering, Rabbits, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

Celebrate Halloween Safely with Your Pets

Halloween is a favorite holiday for people, but not for pets. Decorations, costumes, trick-or-treaters, and costume parades can be frightening – and sometimes dangerous – for our pets.

Halloween is a favorite holiday for many people, but not necessarily for pets. Spooky decorations, elaborate costumes, trick-or-treaters at the door, and costume parades can be fun for kids and adults. But be aware that Halloween activities can be frightening – and sometimes dangerous – for our pets that might not share their humans’ enthusiasm for the occasion.

Here are some suggestions to help keep your pets safe this Halloween.

Keep treats away from pets.

Make sure your bowls of candy and other treats are safely out of reach from your pets. Chocolate —especially dark chocolate—is toxic for cats and dogs. Sugar-free candies that contain xylitol, a sugar substitute, also can cause serious health problems for pets. Keep your stash away from your pets. And if you have children, make sure they’re aware of the dangers of sharing their treats with pets.

If you suspect your pet has eaten something toxic, immediately seek medical attention. If you’re not certain what to do, immediately call the ASPCA Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435

Keep an eye on decorations and electrical wires. 

A curious pet can give your lit Jack-o-lantern a tumble and start a fire or get burned by candle flame. And while pumpkins and decorative corn aren’t considered toxic to pets, they can cause stomach upset if they are ingested. As for electrical wires, they should always be kept safely away from all pets, especially rabbits and other critters who like to nibble.

Costumes aren’t for every pet.

Dressing up pets in fun costumes and participating in pet costume contests and parades has become extremely popular. But not every pet wants to be dressed up like a weenie or fairy princess. For some pets, donning a costume can create stress, or even panic. 

If you plan to dress up your pet, make sure he or she is comfortable with the costume, and doesn’t exhibit signs of anxiety or fear. Signs of discomfort can include a tucked tail, hunching over, ears folded down, or darting eyes. 

Make sure the costume doesn’t interfere with your pet’s ability to move, see clearly, or breathe comfortably – the same precautions you would take for dressing up a child. Make sure the costume doesn’t include items that your pet can chew or could cause them to choke. It’s always a good idea to give your costumed pet a trial run ahead of the big event. If she shows signs of distress or resistance, it’s best to nix the costume and substitute a festive collar or bandana.

Neither are costume parades.

Unless your dog is comfortable with crowds and noise, skip the parade. Stay home and watch a spooky movie together, and snap a great selfie or family photo of you and your buddy enjoying healthy Halloween treats.

Make sure your home is a safe place for your pet.

Be sure all of your pets are indoors before nightfall on Halloween so they don’t run off when trick-or-treaters hit the streets. (Cats are always safest inside your home, regardless of what day it is.) 

Trick-or-treaters or other guests arriving at your door can make any pet feel anxious, fearful, and protective. It’s a good idea to keep your pets in a calm, familiar space within your home, away from unfamiliar visitors, new sounds, and open doors that might allow them to escape. If your pets are used to being crated and consider their crate “safe space,” let them retire to their crate for the evening. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) suggests creating a “haunted house” out of cardboard boxes for your cat. She can stay safely snuggled in until the evening’s activities taper off. Even if your Halloween guests are familiar to your pets, remember that masks and costumes can make them appear unfamiliar – evening frightening – and react unpredictably.

Make sure your pets are microchipped and wearing ID tags. Be sure microchips are registered with your most current information and that ID tags feature your phone number. If you pet should escape through an open door, your chances of being reunited with them are greatly improved.

Halloween can be a fun holiday to share with your pets. Just make sure you’re celebrating with them sensibly and safely to keep them out of harm’s way. We invite you to follow us regularly on Facebook and Twitter for more pet-related information and updates.

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Safety/Emergency | Tagged , ,

Finding Care for Your Pets During Challenging Times

This month we celebrate Responsible Dog Ownership Month. So we think it’s a good time to talk about ways New Yorkers who share their lives with all kinds of pets can find the tools they need to be responsible pet owners.

For many pet owners, these are difficult times. Meeting even some of their pets’ most basic needs is challenging. Rising prices have created challenges for people struggling to afford pet food and veterinary care. Lingering pandemic-related conditions and shortages of veterinarians, vet techs, and other pet-related service providers have left many pet owners scrambling to find affordable and timely care. Spay/neuter appointments, routine and preventive vet care, and emergency medical care all feel out of reach for many pet owners. 

Every day, the Mayor’s Alliance responds to emails from people looking to care for their pets responsibly. Most requests are for free and low-cost spay/neuter resources, medical care for a sick pet, vaccinations, microchips, free pet food, and assistance with situations involving community cats. We respond to every request by offering contacts for services we hope will meet their particular needs. 

In 2020, we reimagined our website to be a help-desk for pet owners seeking services. Our Need Help? section provides advice and contact information for pet owners seeking health, safety, and legal resources. New Yorkers looking to report a lost or found pet or report animal cruelty will find useful information as well. Just a sampling of the resources we provide include:

The Need Help? section is easy to locate on our home page.

Reduced-Cost Veterinary Care

Free and Reduced-Cost Spay/Neuter

Emergency Veterinary Hospitals


Dog Licensing

Free Pet Food & Supplies

Pet Emergency Preparedness

Lost & Found Pets

Domestic Violence & Pets

Legal Resources

Surrendering a Pet

Adopting a Pet

Also, those New Yorkers who share their lives with rabbits will find useful resources for veterinary care, spay/neuter, and other topics on our Rabbits As Pets page. 

We know that finding help for your pets when they need it can feel daunting, especially when funds are tight, vet appointments are scarce, and accurate information is elusive. We hope our website helps make it easier for pet owners to find the information they need. And if you can’t find the information you need on our website, you can email us at info@animalalliancenyc.org

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Pet Adoption, Safety/Emergency, Uncategorized | Tagged ,

Today’s Outlook: Be Prepared!

Ready New York: My Pet's Emergency Plan

The upcoming anniversary of Hurricane Ida’s deadly assault on New York City and the surrounding area in 2021 is a stark reminder of how vulnerable we are when confronted with extreme forces of nature. This year’s litany of environmental disasters in the US alone – storms, floods, extreme temperatures, and wild fires, among others – signals how more than ever we need to be prepared for the unexpected.

As we move into peak hurricane season, it’s important that everyone have a plan for weathering the perils that could lie ahead. For pet owners, advance planning is perhaps even more critical than ever before.

Ready New York: My Pet’s Emergency Plan is a workbook that outlines important steps pet owners can take to ensure their pets are prepared for all types of emergencies. The workbook, as well as other valuable NYC publications that provide guidance in emergency preparedness, can be viewed online in a range of languages.

For a quick review of actions pet owners can take to prepare for emergencies, we hope you’ll visit https://www1.nyc.gov/site/em/ready/pets.page. Topics ranging from proper identification for pets, evacuating with pets and service animals, transportation options, how to prepare for a scenario in which you’re unable to get home to be with your pet or service animal, how to prepare them for weather or health emergencies, and what supplies to gather for your and your pets’ Go Bags are all addressed in this easy-to-follow summary.

In September – National Preparedness Month – NYC Emergency Management (NYCEM) will present its annual Pets and Service Animal Preparedness Fair. Designed to raise awareness specifically about emergency preparedness involving pets and service animals, the event will take place on September 15 in Union Square Park’s North Plaza, from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM.  The fair will showcase the resources that city and non-profit organizations provide to ensure the safety of pets and service animals prior to and during emergencies. Service animal organizations will also be present to educate the public about the role of service animals and how they assist people with disabilities. Admission is free to all.

As a member of NYCEM’s Animal Planning Task Force since 2006, the Alliance 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. A cornerstone of New York City’s emergency response plan is that in the event that the City’s emergency shelter system is opened, pets are allowed at all City evacuation centers.

To arm yourself with more valuable preparedness information, visit our Prepare Your Pets for Emergencies page for links to a range of 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.

On a final note: why microchipping your pets is essential.

During an emergency, the likelihood that you and your pets will become separated is extremely high. Having your pets microchipped is one of the best ways to increase their chances of being reunited with you. To be effective, however, you MUST register the microchip with a microchip registry, and update your contact information whenever you change your address or phone number. Read more about microchipping your pets.

A registered microchip is extremely important as a permanent means of identifying your dog or cat. But we also recommend having a dog tag affixed to your dog’s collar that displays your current phone number. If your dog is found running loose, a Good Samaritan can quickly call you and let you know your dog has been found and make arrangements to be reunited with you.  

If you need more encouragement to microchip your pets, please watch this video.

Posted in Cats, Dog Licensing, Dogs, Microchipping, Safety/Emergency | Tagged