The Important Mission and History of the Humane Society of New York

A Charity Navigator 4-star-rated nonprofit, the Humane Society of New York (HSNY) provides treatment and care services to dogs and cats. Its clinic, located at 306 E. 59th St., is open seven days per week by appointment only. Services range from clinical care (ultrasound, x-rays, blood tests, and wellness exams) to dentistry and surgery. It also operates the Vladimir Horowitz & Wanda Toscanini Horowitz Adoption Center, where dogs and cats given proper care until they find their forever home. On occasion, the HSNY has also cared for wildlife animals and exotic pets.

An independent organization unaffiliated with the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society of New York has been in operation for more than 100 years. Below is a closer look at its origins and how it has grown and evolved over the years while fulfilling its mission of providing critical care to animals.

Created to Protect NYC’s Working Horses

The majority of the HSNY’s work today is in protecting and providing homes for dogs and cats. It was established in 1904 to protect New York City’s working horses from maltreatment and abuse. Around that time, members of the organization placed watering troughs throughout the city to provide rest and drink areas for horses. They also advocated for laws to punish owners who mistreated their horses.

Prior to the founding of the HSNY, more than 100,000 working horses were used for transport in New York City. Many were overworked into exhaustion or death, with their carcasses abandoned in the streets. In 1880, for instance, the city removed 15,000 dead horses from the streets. Larger carcasses were sometimes left to rot.

The HSNY advocated for the protection and health of these working horses for decades. Newspaper clippings from the New York Times in the 1920s show HSNY volunteers fitting horses with non-skids to protect their hooves and filling up buckets of water for horses to drink.

Caring for Thousands of Cats and Dogs Each Year

In subsequent years, the HSNY began expanding its work to include care for the city’s injured and stray pets, most notably dogs and cats. A 1935 New York Times clipping on its website shows a woman, Miss A. McAllister, depositing money into a donation bin outside the Public Library for the HSNY’s Drive for Funds for Animals. Paddy, the organization’s dog mascot at the time, is also pictured. Today, the HSNY provides compassionate care to thousands of animals each year. Its Vladimir Horowitz and Wanda Toscanini Horowitz Adoption Center takes in more than 38,000 cats and dogs yearly.

“Home should be a safe haven but sadly for some animals it is the opposite—a place where they are neglected, disposed of, or forgotten. Only a very small number of dogs and cats remain in one home their whole lives,” notes HSNY president Virginia Chipurnoi. “90 percent are given away, or are victims of loss, theft, or abandonment. They must cope with the confusion, fear and loneliness that follow. Our shelter understands these issues and has long been praised for our innovative, highly individualized approach to both animal care and the wellness and our staff.”

Meeting Animals’ Physical and Emotional Needs

The HSNY prioritizes quality of life for all dogs and cats that come through its doors or live in the community. Staff members provide personalized care so each animal is as content and comfortable as possible. Cats get play time outside of their kennels every day, while dogs are free to roam on the rooftop run and go on walks with staff and volunteers. Many visitors have remarked that the HSNY’s adoption center feels like a home as opposed to a shelter.

The HSNY also covers the cost of spay and neuter procedures for all dogs and cats through its Animal Mukti Free Spay/Neuter Program. Moreover, its Outdoor Cat Spay/Neuter Program is the first of its kind in New York. It sterilizes and provides basic wellness care for feral cats. It also provides acutely ill pets with hundreds of thousands of dollars of life-giving care each year.

Dogs Trained by Animal Behaviorist Bill Berloni

Those who adopt dogs from the HSNY can be assured that they have received personal attention. The organization’s trainers receive guidance from Bill Berloni, a renowned animal behaviorist and author who serves as HSNY director of dog training. Berloni, who owns the company Theatrical Animals, has trained dogs for stage and screen productions, including AnnieBillions, and Sesame Street. He also assists to new owners once they take their dog home.

How to Donate to the Humane Society of New York

The HSNY uses 97 percent of donated funds to support program activities directly. In addition to private donations, interested supporters can explore corporate gifts, matching gifts, foundation grants, bequests, securities, and non-cash contributions such as property and art.


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