Thousands of Animals Are Receiving Free Support Through Covid-19. Here's How Your Pet Can Get Help.


What to Know

  • The ASPCA is offering free pet food, resources and veterinary care to animals impacted by the coronavirus pandemic
  • More than 100,000 animals have been helped so far, including 14,000 in New York City.

An animal rescue organization has dedicated a supply of free pet food, resources and veterinary care for 200,000 animals across the country that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

On May 7, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals released its new collaborative effort to provide essential resources to pet owners struggling during these unprecedented times. The ASPCA announced a commitment to assist 200,000 animals across the country through its Relief and Recovery Initiative.

While partnering with local shelters, this initiative includes operating specific distribution centers that hand out free pet food and supplies. Since the launch, an upwards of 100,000 animals nationwide have been assisted via these centers. Within New York City alone, over 14,000 pets have received aid, according to ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker.

For New York City residents, a special taskforce was created at the end of April. New Yorkers can call a toll-free hotline to get more information on where and how they can attain resources. To date, the New York City COVID-19 pet assistance hotline has received more than 1,000 calls across the boroughs, says Bershadker.

Credit: ASPCA

If your pet needs medical help, the organization has promised to provide free access to veterinary clinics run by the ASPCA, waiving fees for urgent care. Treatment includes severe skin and ear infection, gastrointestinal problems, traumatic injury and end of life services.

The Bronx Community Veterinary Center is treating more severe conditions, while the team in Brooklyn is expanding to mobile units and treatment tents. “The ASPCA has treated more than 2,000 animals to date, including more than 1,000 in New York City through these services,” shares Bershadker.

In addition, the effort provides emergency temporary boarding for cats and dogs who need a place to stay while their owner is either hospitalized or simply unable to support the animal due to crisis. The CEO says their NYC adoption center has the capacity to care for over 40 animals at any given time. Typically, boarding runs for three weeks but can depend on the owner’s situation.

One Manhattan resident and retired office manager, Nicole Stevenson, took advantage of this opportunity when she was admitted to New York-Presbyterian Hospital on April 10 for a two-week stay. At first, she didn’t know what to do about her 8-year-old Maltese, Laura.

"I broke my ankle in 2017 and had to board Laura, and it cost me a fortune. This time, I couldn’t afford to do that,” said Nicole. 

She added, "the service during this pandemic shows that if people like me have to be hospitalized, there’s a way for your pet to be taken care of without costing a fortune.”

On top of the Recovery and Relief Initiative, the ASPCA held a grant program awarding $2 million in lifesaving funding for animal welfare organizations. The funding has been awarded to various animal organizations from 30 states, and the average grant received is nearly $40,000. Animal Care Centers of New York City is included on the list of grantees.

With rising unemployment, the ASPCA has not seen an increase in owner surrenders or stray intakes within New York. However, the team is planning for a potential increase in shelters in the coming months.

“We encourage any pet owner looking to re-home an animal to first check in with animal shelter staff, who can often provide assistance or ideas that enable the pet to stay in a safe and loving home,” add Bershadker.

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