The ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) announces the development of two new animal rehabilitation and recovery centers to add to its current facilities providing much-needed care for abused and neglected cats and dogs. The facilities, which will open in Columbus, Ohio, and Pawling, N.Y., and represent an approximately $32 million capital commitment, will significantly improve the quality of life for some of the country’s most vulnerable animals, including those rescued from hoarding, animal fighting, puppy mills, cruelty, and abandonment, and improve their chances for adoption.
“The behavioral and psychological impact of cruelty and neglect on dogs and cats is both devastating and complex, and the ASPCA is responding to this multifaceted challenge by expanding our programs to address behavior-related barriers to adoption,” said Matt Bershadker, President & CEO of the ASPCA. “Rescuing animal victims from horrible conditions is only the first step. We also strive to give them the greatest chance for recovery. These specialized programs will help us learn how to be even more effective in preparing these vulnerable animals for life in a loving home, and we look forward to sharing our learnings with the animal welfare field.”
Building on the strong foundation created by the success of its existing rehabilitation centers in North Carolina and New York City, the ASPCA’s new facilities will increase the organization’s capacity to care for victims of animal cruelty, conduct research and develop diagnostic and treatment protocols to advance the animal welfare field. The organization will share new knowledge through publication, professional and academic conferences, and its Learning Lab, an interactive, educational program focused on integrating science-based behavioral care into all aspects of animal sheltering.
In Pawling, N.Y., the ASPCA will build the ASPCA Recovery & Rehabilitation Center, an approximately 50,000 sq. ft. facility that will provide advanced behavioral and medical interventions to effectively shelter, rehabilitate and rehome canine victims of cruelty and neglect. The Recovery & Rehabilitation Center, which is slated to open in 2023, will work in conjunction with the ASPCA’s existing Gloria Gurney Canine Annex for Recovery & Enrichment and the Animal Recovery Center in New York City, which provide care for animals rescued through the ASPCA’s partnership with the New York City Police Department. Many of the cats and dogs who are rescued through the partnership exhibit behavior and medical challenges as a result of the abuse and neglect they’ve suffered, which can make it challenging for them to be adopted into homes. The Recovery & Rehabilitation Center, which will focus on treating dogs with severe stress, hyperarousal and reactivity, will allow the ASPCA to more than double its current capacity to care for the animals rescued through the NYPD partnership as well as victims of cruelty and neglect from across the country.
In addition, in Columbus, Ohio, the ASPCA will open a permanent Cruelty Recovery Center later this year – a more than 100,000 sq. ft. space dedicated to the care and rehabilitation of animals rescued from large-scale cruelty situations across the country. The Cruelty Recovery Center will support the ASPCA’s national field response work, which has resulted in the rescue of more than 35,000 animal victims of cruelty and disasters across 38 states in the past 12 years. When the ASPCA deploys to assist local agencies with cases involving animal cruelty or neglect it often provides support with operational planning, field operation expertise, evidence collection, veterinary forensic exams, forensic behavior evaluations, medical care, sheltering and enrichment, and behavioral treatment for the animals, as well as legal and investigative support in criminal cases to ensure the best outcome for the cases and the rescued animals. Facilities such as the Cruelty Recovery Center, and in some cases temporary field shelters, are needed to provide the expertise, time and space for animals to heal and recover during the pendency of criminal cases. The Cruelty Recovery Center also ensures that regional brick-and-mortar shelters that may not have the capacity to take in a large population of animals are able to focus on their lifesaving work for other animals in their communities while the ASPCA provides ongoing sheltering, medical and behavioral care for victims of cruelty and neglect until disposition is determined by the court.
In 2018, the ASPCA announced the opening of its permanent Behavioral Rehabilitation Center, a first-of-its-kind facility in Weaverville, N.C., dedicated to the study and rehabilitation of homeless dogs suffering from severe fear and undersocialization resulting from cruelty and neglect.
The ASPCA Learning Lab launched in 2018 as a robust in-person workshop program for shelter professionals at the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center and has since evolved to include an eLearning program to reach even more shelter professionals. The Learning Lab has reached more than 10,000 participants across over 600 animal welfare organizations through in-person workshops, live panel discussions, and online courses focusing on animal behavior health.
As part of the ASPCA’s commitment to the evolution and expansion of behavioral care for homeless animals, the organization will launch studies at the new facilities to discover how to effectively and efficiently resolve behavior problems in dogs that cause suffering and prevent adoption. In addition, in New York City, the ASPCA will conduct new research aimed at helping behaviorally challenged cats become successful candidates for adoption. This groundbreaking work will not only benefit animal victims of physical violence, emotional trauma and severe neglect, but it will also help other animal welfare organizations rehabilitate countless shelter animals facing the same barriers to adoption.