UNITE4:HUMANITY INSPIRATION AWARD
Nominated by: ASPCA
Category Name: Animal Welfare
Jane Hoffman helped found the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals in 2002 and has served as president and chair of the board of directors ever since. The Mayor’s Alliance was created to apply creative, targeted solutions to NYC’s homeless animal crisis.
Working pursuant to a 10-Year Strategic Plan (2005-2014), and with 150+ rescue groups and shelters that now participate in the Alliance (ranging from the ASCPA, a founding supporter, to small neighborhood-based rescue groups), the collaboration has succeeded in reducing euthanasia at our shelters by 81 percent.
Hoffman is an attorney, formerly with Simpson Thacher and Bartlett, and was in private practice specializing in taxation, executive compensation and estate planning. She was also a senior consultant at Handy Associates, a management-consulting firm, working on mergers and acquisitions.
Hoffman is a Founding Member and former Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Legal Issues Pertaining to Animals, the first of its kind in the United States. In August of 2007, Hoffman received the inaugural Excellence in the Advancement of Animal Law Award from the American Bar Association (ABA) TIPS section at the ABA Annual Conference held in San Francisco.
Hoffman continues to speak extensively around the country on the public/private partnership as a replicable model for bringing together animal welfare groups to develop creative solutions to companion animal overpopulation and animal control issues. A native New Yorker, she has a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, an M.L.S. from Long Island University and a B.A. from Boston College.
problem to alleviate
The Mayor’s Alliance was formed with the express goal of ending the killing of healthy and treatable cats and dogs at Animal Care & Control of NYC (AC&C). When the Alliance was created in 2003, euthanasia at AC&C stood at 74 percent; more than 31,700 animals that entered the shelter were euthanized. AC&C is an open-admission shelter that contracts with the City of New York to handle the city’s animal control function, and must accept every animal that enters its doors. Because homes for all of these animals could not be found quickly enough, three out of every four were euthanized to make room for more incoming animals. Exacerbating the problem were the large numbers of feral community cats and kittens being brought to AC&C shelters. Because these cats are not socialized to humans, they are not candidates for adoption. The breeding of these community cats results in more kittens entering the shelters — taking away homes that would otherwise go to the adult cats already there. Most adult feral cats taken in at city shelters were euthanized because they are not adoptable as house pets.
solution to problem
Since its inception, the Alliance has followed a ten-year strategic plan based on four core objectives: (1) Increase adoptions; (2) Reduce animal homelessness through spay/neuter programs, micro-chipping, dog licensing, and other demonstrations of responsible pet ownership; (3) Increase awareness of animal shelters and rescue groups and the animals in their care; and (4) Strengthen existing resources though training and funding to help professionalize Alliance participating organizations (APOs).
When the Alliance was created in 2003, five rescue organizations joined this community collaboration. As more shelters and rescue groups came onboard, the Alliance grew to include more than 150 organizations. While each participating organization operates independently, all share the common goal of finding good homes for the animals in their care. Mandatory, routine reporting by each participating organization allows the Alliance to record and track our progress toward the target goal of no deaths of healthy or treatable cats and dogs.
Among the Alliance initiatives that have had the greatest impact in saving lives are (1) the Wheels of Hope Transport Program, which transports cats and dogs from AC&C shelters to other APOs that care for the animals and find them permanent homes; (2) Medical Fund, which pays for medical care for cats and dogs who need extra help to prepare to be adopted; and (3) the NYC Feral Cat Initiative, which unifies the feral cat community in NYC to promote and implement “trap, neuter and return” (TNR) as the only efficient and humane way to control the outdoor cat population.
As we reach the end of our first decade of operation, the project has saved more than a quarter-million lives. Today, New York City has the lowest euthanasia per capita of any major U.S. city (1 per 1,000 per capita). Through collaborative efforts, euthanasia at AC&C has been reduced by 81 percent. Euthanasia of cats — traditionally a much higher number than dogs — is down by more than 42 percent since the previous year, and for the first time in history the number of cats euthanized has dropped to just 28 percent more than dogs. Intake at AC&C is reached an historic low of fewer than 28,000, down from more than 40,000 ten years ago.
Today, the rescue community in New York City is unified and working in a collaborative manner with each other and with AC&C. The Alliance has provided, and continues to offer, important resources and tools to APOs to ensure they can sustain their programs and progress in the coming years. This support has been provided in the form of capacity-building grants to improve their facilities and programs; specialized operational and organization training to help professionalize the groups; and a range of other supports.
how project exemplifies the unite4:good mission
Since the Alliance began ten years ago, we have inspired participation by a wide range of entities, including the City of New York’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Mayor’s Office; the Broadway community, especially through Bernadette Peters and Mary Tyler Moore and their annual Broadway Barks adoption and awareness-building extravaganza; and the media, through strong editorial and on-line coverage.
Through our volunteer outreach and activities, we have attracted individuals from all walks of life, as well as schools, organizations, and businesses to join in and support our efforts — from sewing cage comforters for animals in the shelters and helping at our events to donating supplies and funds for shelter animals and providing foster care for hundreds of animals awaiting adoption.
The Alliance was created in the spirit of collaboration and inclusion, and over the years, a coalition of dedicated and talented individuals contribute to our success and carry our messages to new and diverse audiences. From high-profile organizational and business leaders to everyday individuals, our supporters and participants are helping to shape people’s attitudes and awareness about our issues — including pet adoption, responsible pet ownership, outdoor community cats, and others.
project’s community support & awareness
Raising awareness about the issues of animal homelessness and the importance of responsible pet ownership and adoption from shelters and rescue groups is one of the four core objectives in our strategic plan. Since its inception, the Alliance has harnessed the power of the media to carry our messages to diverse audiences to build support and awareness of our mission. Articles and interviews in print, online, and on radio and TV have provided important education to the public and have garnered their critical support. Our highly trafficked website and broad-reaching social media communications continually generate awareness and attract new followers. Large, high-profile adoption events, as well as our smaller service-oriented events and training forums help to raise awareness within communities both locally and nationally.
Another important outreach vehicle that has generated interest and awareness within our focus area of New York City and beyond is our Wheels of Hope transport fleet. Five transport vehicles bearing our logo are on the road seven days a week, 52 weeks a year, transporting animals to safe havens where they will be cared for until they are adopted into permanent homes. These vehicles serve as moving advertisements for the Alliance’s lifesaving efforts.
communicating project’s mission
The Alliance has looked to the media as a critical tool for raising awareness about our mission and programs, and reaching target audiences and new sources of funding. In 2006, when rising gas prices threatened to curtail lifesaving transports by our Wheels of Hope transport fleet, AM-NY published a front-page article about the crisis, resulting in a tremendous influx of donations, including a matching grant.
Over the years, the Alliance has been featured in hundreds of articles in print, online, on radio, and TV. Some of the most-covered topics include our signature mega adoption events, including Adoptapalooza and Whiskers in Wonderland; two press conferences with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at City Hall; the Alliance’s annual February adoption celebration, I Love NYC Pets Month, and ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange; efforts to find a humane solution for dealing with outdoor cats living at JFK Airport, and others.