Fair Recovery and Companion Animal Welfare

About the Roadmap

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed deep inequities across social determinants of health. As important parts of our social systems, companion animals have been and will continue to be affected by the COVID-19 crisis as well - particularly those with human caregivers who will face the social and economic impacts for years to come. The Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare extends the Administration’s goal for a fair recovery to animal welfare in NYC.

Members of the NYC Emergency Management’s Animal Planning Task Force have united under the Fair Recovery and Companion Animal Welfare working group to rebuild the landscape of animal welfare in a way that contributes to a stronger and more equitable city. To this end, the working group’s strategy to support the recovery of companion animal welfare in NYC is outlined in the Fair Recovery and Companion Animal Welfare Roadmap, which focuses on three key principles:

About the NYC Emergency Management Animal Planning Task Force

The Animal Planning Task Force is a collaboration between City agencies and nonprofits coordinated by NYC Emergency Management. Nonprofit partners include American Red Cross, Animal Care Centers of NYC, Animal Haven, ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, Bideawee, Humane Society of the United States, Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, New York State Animal Protection Federation, NYC Veterinary Emergency Response Team, and PAWS NY.

  • Members of the Fair Recovery & Companion Animal Welfare Working Group: Animal Care Centers of NYC, ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, Bideawee, Humane Society of the United States, Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare 

Three Guiding Principles

Keep People and Pets Together

Companion animals are a part of households across race, age, and income demographics. Resources to care for animals, however, are not spread out so evenly. Animal care and animal shelter surrender rates are directly tied to availability, accessibility, and equitable distribution of resources.

Key Initiatives:

  • Pet-Accessible Housing: MOAW is studying the impact of pet policies in housing on the municipal animal shelter intake rate. To encourage keeping people and pets together, MOAW is also identifying and developing resources to help housing providers implement pet-accessible policies.
  • Community Behavior Support: Behavior is one of the top reasons for animal shelter surrender. By making expert behavior guidance available to the public, free of charge, and in multiple languages, we commit to helping all New Yorkers understand the animals with whom they share their lives and homes. While these virtual behavior events and resources are available to all, outreach targets the most vulnerable communities and guardians of dogs with the greatest behavioral needs.  
  • Animal Care Centers of NYC Community Pets Programming: The Community Pets Program is a compassionate outreach initiative of Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC). The goal is simple: keep pets together with their human families by providing access to necessary health and welfare resources for pets. ACC’s Community Pets Program works within Bronx and Queens neighborhoods to identify pet owners in need and assist them, as much as possible, in keeping their pets. Free vaccination clinic events, free dog training classes, and free spay/neuter services are just some of what ACC offers.

Quality Care for All

COVID-19 exposed our city’s most painful disparities, including access to medical care. As New York City’s animal lovers know, the health and welfare of people and their animals are tied together. There is urgency in bringing affordable, quality healthcare to every New Yorker and to build upon programs to increase access to quality companion animal care as an extension of our outreach to the city’s hardest-hit communities.

Key Initiatives:

  • ASPCA Community Veterinary Centers: ASPCA will be building a network of Community Veterinary Centers to provide low-income pet owners in underserved communities with access to basic veterinary care, including vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery. The first ASPCA Community Veterinary Center opened in the South Bronx in late fall 2019, which will be followed by Brooklyn in fall 2020 and Manhattan in 2021.
  • Integrated Service Delivery: MOAW applies the One Health approach to the local and micro scale, recognizing the interconnection between the health of New Yorkers, their pets, and the neighborhoods and homes in which we live. We commit to organizing integrated human and animal service resource fairs for the hardest-hit communities and building on previous initiatives to work across City agencies to deliver both human and animal care for the most complex human-animal welfare issues.

Prioritize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

To create a stronger, safer, and fairer City for everyone, we each have a responsibility to deepen our understanding of oppression and act on undoing racism in ourselves and within our communities, including within the animal welfare movement. Animal welfare must become a more diverse and inclusive movement, and animal advocates must be good allies to other social justice advocates and people of color.

Key Initiatives:

  • Increasing Opportunities for Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises: The Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare, in collaboration with other mayoral offices and City agencies, will implement a targeted outreach plan to ensure minority and women owned business enterprises (M/WBEs) in NYC’s animal welfare community have increased opportunities to do business with the City. By increasing the number of certified animal welfare M/WBEs, non-City animal welfare organizations can also refer to the public database to act on their own commitments to support minority and women owned businesses for their procurement needs.
  • Diversifying the Workforce: To ensure animal welfare professions reflect the diversity of the New York City communities which are served, we commit to building more intentional workforce development pipelines to quality paying animal welfare jobs with opportunities for advancement. 
  • Promote Social Learning and Collective Introspection: Disparities, structural racism, and implicit bias affect us all. The Mayor’s Office of Animal Welfare will share resources for the animal welfare community to learn about how racial injustices have shaped the physical and social geography of the city. We will also provide a platform for community members to share, reflect on personal experiences, and develop an understanding of both the root causes and effects.
  • Reduce Bias: Companion animal welfare operations can harbor bias, including within systems that facilitate “rescue”, adoption, and prosecution of animal crimes. We strive to reduce bias of who is deemed “worthy” of having an animal by building on the current open adoptions model utilized by Animal Care Centers of NYC and the community engagement - criminal justice partnership between the ASPCA and NYPD. Community engagement and resource delivery are key to reforming systems that traditionally confuse poverty for neglect and abuse.