More Than 5,000 of New York City’s Animals Assisted Through Decade-Long Partnership with the NYPD

April 9, 2024


In 2014, in an effort to better address animal cruelty and other issues plaguing New York City’s animals, the ASPCA and the New York City Police Department (NYPD) formed a unique partnership to ensure animals are protected under the law, save the lives of those who are suffering and assist pet parents who may be struggling to care for their pets.

Ten years later, the unprecedented partnership between the ASPCA and the NYPD has spurred additional collaborations and advancements that have permanently changed how New York City protects its most vulnerable animals. Since the partnership’s inception, more than 5,000 animals have been removed from situations of suspected cruelty, and more than 28,000 NYPD officers have been trained by ASPCA subject matter experts to effectively recognize and respond to suspected animal cruelty.


“Ten years ago, the oldest and largest animal welfare organization in the country joined forces with one of the oldest and largest law enforcement agencies in the country to combat animal cruelty and ensure animals are protected under the law - further establishing the value of animals in our lives and in our communities,” said Matt Bershadker, President & CEO of the ASPCA. “Since then, New York City has reimagined what it looks like to comprehensively address animal welfare issues across the five boroughs through an innovative and collaborative approach involving law enforcement, a network of shelter and veterinary partners, as well as human services agencies, resulting in a record number of animal lives saved and a significant increase in critical resources to keep pets out of shelters and in loving homes.”

A New Approach to Combatting Cruelty

After launching this partnership, the NYPD formed its Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad, a specialized unit dedicated to the investigation of animal-related crimes across the five boroughs while the ASPCA brought on former NYPD executives and ADAs to provide around-the-clock support for officers and District Attorney’s offices and ensure effective collaboration and communication across agencies.


We also assist law enforcement by providing crucial evidence identification, collection and analysis and expert testimony to support the NYPD and District Attorney’s Offices through the ASPCA Veterinary Forensic Science team. In the last ten years, this team has assisted with thousands of cases that involve criminal charges related to animal crimes, and our forensic veterinarians have testified in court 250 times.

This lifesaving work wouldn’t be possible without the additional support of eight 24-hour veterinary hospitals in New York City that partner with us to provide critical care for suspected animal cruelty victims during evening and overnight hours when the ASPCA Animal Hospital is closed.  These veterinary partners, along with our network of shelter partners who provide us with additional placement options for animals who thrive outside of a city setting, play a critical role in the success of this partnership.


“Over the past 10 years, the ASPCA has been able to treat record numbers of alleged abused animals in New York City while the NYPD and NYC District Attorney’s Offices have dramatically increased the enforcement and prosecution of animal crimes,” said Howard Lawrence, Vice President of ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement. “The ASPCA is grateful for the dedicated support we have received from our law enforcement partners over the past decade, and we’re reminded of the lifesaving impact they’re helping us make each time another rehabilitated animal walks out of our Adoption Center and into their new, adoptive home.”

Providing Lifesaving Second Chances

Once animals are removed from cruelty or other dangerous conditions, they often spend time at one of our recovery facilities in New York City before they go on to find loving homes.

“At our animal recovery centers in New York City, specialized medical, behavior and sheltering professionals focus on giving second chances to vulnerable and victimized animals who need us most,” said Kris Lindsay, Vice President of the ASPCA’s Animal Recovery Center and Canine Annex for Recovery and Enrichment. “We’re often working with cats and dogs who experienced horrific trauma or are severely under-socialized. Watching them come out of their shells and thrive in our care as we prepare them for life in new homes reminds us just how resilient these animals can be, and just how deserving they are of love.”

Every day, through our cruelty response, we see broken-down animals get the second chances they deserve. Animals like Serenity, who was found by a Good Samaritan extremely emaciated and struggling to survive. After seeing Serenity’s condition, Selena C. called the NYPD, who took the dog to a local emergency hospital where she suffered two seizures and was placed on anti-convulsant medication.


The following day, Serenity, as she had been named by the emergency hospital staff, was transported to the ASPCA Animal Recovery Center for treatment, where she remained for five weeks. In her time with us, our expert staff worked on a re-feeding program to help Serenity gain weight and heal. When staff finally reached out to Selena with an update, she hoped to bring Serenity home when she was available for adoption. Serenity now lives a happy, healthy life with a loving family and a canine sibling.


Without our NYPD partnership and network of emergency care shelters, Serenity may never have received the lifesaving care she needed to find her happily ever after.

Working to Keep People and Pets Together

For cases that do not warrant criminal charges, the ASPCA Community Engagement team assists at-risk animals and their owners through access to safety nets and other services that can help pets and their people stay together. The Community Engagement team works with pet owners and local agencies to identify solutions to keep animals in their homes whenever possible.


We do this by providing access to low-cost veterinary care, spay/neuter services and additional resources such as pet food and supplies and proper pet housing. We also work closely with the NYPD and human service providers, including domestic violence and elderly care programs, to refer pet owners to additional services and support for the entire family.

NYPD officers have made nearly 700 referrals to our Community Engagement team resulting in 1,600 animals assisted since 2014.


A Brighter Future for New York City’s Animals

As we mark the 10th anniversary of this partnership, we are proud to have been able to assist so many animals in need and make so many new beginnings possible. As we look forward to the next 10 years, we will continue to evolve our response to cruelty through continued trainings for NYPD, expand our resources for rehabilitation and recovery for cruelty victims and work to further protect those most in need.