To assist pet owners and shelters affected by the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is launching the ASPCA Relief & Recovery Initiative, a $5 million multipronged strategic relief response to the crisis. The response includes $2 million in grants to animal shelters in critical need of funds and pet food to pet owners who face challenges providing food for their animals.
"In addition to the unprecedented challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has created for people, it is also putting animals at-risk by straining essential owner and shelter resources. Considering the vital role pets play in our lives – especially in times of crisis and stress – it's extremely important to safeguard their health and welfare as much as we possibly can," said ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker.
Added Bershadker, "We are grateful to work with generous donors and the larger animal welfare community who are stepping up, thinking creatively and courageously, and forging new paths to meet this need. Across the world, people are turning to their pets for comfort, and with the ASPCA Relief & Recovery Initiative, we are committed to helping animals return that love and comfort back to their families by working to ensure their health and safety as we weather this crisis together."
Emergency Relief for Shelters
The ASPCA is launching a minimum $2 million emergency relief fund for shelters that have been hit hard by this crisis. Grants will help shelters fund essential lifesaving services such as basic operations, safety net, adoptions and foster programs, and veterinary services, which are proving to be crucial animal welfare services during this crisis.
Pet Food Distribution
The ASPCA's response also includes the creation of regional pet food distribution centers, starting first in New York City, one of the U.S. cities most severely affected by the pandemic. The centers, provided in partnership with the Petco Foundation, will give dog and cat owners free access to critical food supplies as the outbreak continues to spread.
ASPCA will also operate regional food distribution centers in Miami, Los Angeles, and North Carolina, where the ASPCA has operations. More information about specific locations and dates will be available in the coming weeks.
Petco Foundation President Susanne Kogut said, "At the Petco Foundation, we have been working diligently to mobilize the community to foster or adopt to prevent COVID-19 from becoming a crisis for our pets. We must all come together to support our animal shelters and our community, which is why we're proud to also support this initiative," said Kogut. "The health and safety of pets needs to remain a top concern because they provide vital comfort and companionship to people during this very stressful time."
The COVID-19 relief response speaks to the ASPCA's longstanding commitment to the animal welfare community and people and their pets. In an effort to create better access to crucial services for underserved pet owners and improve the health and welfare of dogs and cats nationwide, the ASPCA has launched programs and partnerships in New York City, Los Angeles and Miami that make veterinary care more accessible and affordable, and continues to develop initiatives to serve the more than 21 million pets living in poverty with their owners nationwide. In North Carolina, the ASPCA operates the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center (BRC), a facility dedicated to rehabilitating fearful, under socialized dogs, and ASPCA Spay/Neuter Alliance, the nationally recognized leader in high-quality, high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter training and services.
For more information on the ASPCA's efforts to help at-risk animals, please visit www.aspca.org.