The SPCA of Westchester was founded in 1883 by Ossining resident Mary Dusenberry after she observed horses being mercilessly whipped and beaten as they trudged up nearby hills to deliver heavy loads of coal. Together with caring friends, she obtained land on which to build the Society's first home and established a fund to be used to prevent cruelty to animals. The SPCA is still located on the same spot, making it one of the oldest landholders in Briarcliff Manor.
Originally, the SPCA of Westchester was affiliated with the ASPCA of New York City, but became an independent organization in the 1920s. Today, it is the only humane society in Westchester County empowered to enforce laws relating to animal cruelty. Despite this, the SPCA gets no federal, state, or county funds. So we rely solely on the financial support of people who care about the welfare of animals. If you care about animals, we need your help and welcome donations!
Our Current Programs
Recognized as a “no-kill shelter” the SPCA never euthanizes an animal except in cases of terminal illness, extreme aggression, or the inability to maintain a reasonable quality of life in a shelter environment. Regardless of how long it may take, the SPCA is committed to caring for all adoptable animals until a loving, new home can be found. In 2015 our shelter introduced over 1,500 animals to their new forever homes. We returned 130 animals to their grateful owners. The SPCA contracts with 13 different municipalities to accept delivery of their stray cats and dogs for return to owners or to arrange for adoption. Lost dogs and cats are held at the shelter for at least eight days before becoming available for adoption.
Cruelty Investigation and Intervention
Through its Humane Law Enforcement Division, (HLE) the SPCA is the only shelter authorized by New York State to enforce the laws as they relate to animal cruelty in Westchester and neighboring counties without an SPCA. Last year, thousands of complaints of animal neglect and cruelty were phoned into our animal abuse hotline. Investigations encompass cruelty complaints involving dogs, cats, horses, exotics and farm animals. The SPCA's HLE Unit successfully seized 103 animals that were victims of abuse or neglect in 2015.
Low-Cost Veterinary Care
The SPCA stands firm in its belief that the spaying and neutering of all dogs and cats is essential to alleviate the tragic consequences of unwanted animals. Through our Simpson Clinic, the SPCA offers to the public, low-cost spay/neuter surgeries, examination, vaccinations and testing for disease in an effort to help people keep their pets healthy. Since establishing our clinic in 1983, we have spayed/neutered 50,000 dogs and cats, successfully reducing the number of strays brought to our shelter by 50% over the last ten years. Once a week, we assist local cat rescue organizations by offering spay/neuter surgeries to feral cats through our Trap/Neuter/Release program.
Beginning in 2007, the SPCA began a program to rescue healthy, vibrant puppies and young adult family dogs from high-kill shelters where they were slated to be euthanized due to lack of space. With a solid adoption rate at our shelter, we were confident that we could find loving homes for these animals which we have done with great success. To date, the SPCA has saved the lives of thousands of companion animals from high-kill shelters in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi and California, working in partnership with rescue groups from those states. The SPCA rescued and safely transported 714 puppies and dogs to our shelter in 2015 to find new homes.
Golden Outreach Pet Therapy Program
For 25 years, SPCA volunteers have been taking specially trained shelter dogs and cats to hospitals, hospices, assisted-living centers, nursing homes and adult day care centers, bringing people and animals together to combat loneliness and isolation. This program benefits not only the people with whom we visit, but also the shelter animals who receive special training and extra socialization before being admitted to the program. Other volunteers take their own dogs who have been approved and trained. We visit 60+ facilities each week.
SPCA Volunteer Program
A group of 400 dedicated volunteers participates in the daily walking and training of shelter dogs as well as our cat care program in order to make our animals more adoptable and reduce their emotional isolation from people during their stay at the shelter. In 2015, our volunteers contributed over 30,000 hours of service to the SPCA. Volunteers foster shelter animals and groom them. They greet visitors and help them through the adoption process, keep our shelter looking its best through various beautification projects, provide support to office and clinic staff, and help with our fund raising efforts. Our volunteers also promote the mission of the SPCA through community outreach and attending local events to inform others of the services we provide.
Teaching children to be animal advocates empowers them to be good citizens. The SPCA of Westchester believes that one of the most effective ways to fight animal cruelty and neglect is education. In 2015, our Humane Education Program staff and volunteers provided 19 educational presentations to children in area schools and hosted educational visits and tours to over 60 youth related groups. In addition, our shelter participates in the Westchester County District Attorney’s Taskforce for Humane Education. The SPCA also hosts an annual “Camp Critter” in the summer for children ages six through twelve. Participants have fun while interacting with animals, learning about sheltering, animal care, animal cruelty, and how they can make a difference in the lives of homeless animals.
SPCA of Westchester/My Sister’s Place Pet Safety Program
In 2008, the SPCA and My Sister’s Place, a domestic violence shelter agency, partnered to create a Pet Safety Program. This program, one of a handful of programs created across the nation, developed from the growing recognition that companion animals living in violent households are often the victims of abuse, and that people seeking refuge from such situations are often unwilling to leave out of fear for their animals’ safety. Because many domestic violence shelters are unable to take in the companion animals of victims, both the SPCA and My Sister’s Place saw the need to create a program that would enable victims to leave their pets with SPCA foster families during their stay in the shelter system.