ASHEVILLE, N.C.; NEW YORK, N.Y.––The American SPCA, the oldest animal advocacy organization in the U.S., and the Humane Alliance, the largest facilitator of nonprofit spay/neuter surgery, are exploring the possibility of a merger.
“While nothing is final at this point, we intend to merge with Humane Alliance,” affirmed ASPCA president Matthew Bershadker to ANIMALS 24-7 on February 18, 2015. “We hope to receive the necessary approvals (regulatory, etc.) this summer to make this happen.
“Our relationship with Humane Alliance is wide and deep, spanning more than 10 years,” Bershadker added. “We’ve granted the Humane Alliance more than $6 million in funding over the years and many of our s/n experts are Humane Alliance-trained. We have tremendous appreciation for what they have accomplished––from their sophisticated techniques and processes to their network of 141 clinics.
“When this union comes to fruition,” Bershadker said, “we hope that our added resources will help the Humane Alliance to extend what they already do so well in the dissemination of high-quality, high-volume spay/neuter techniques, and that together, we will expand our collective reach and impact on animals.”
The merger would return the ASPCA to the leading role in promoting dog and cat sterilization that it had five decades ago, when it became the second national animal charity to provide spay/neuter surgery on a nonprofit basis. The first, Friends of Animals, opened a low-cost spay/neuter clinic in Neptune, New Jersey, in 1957.
Eleven years elapsed before Lloyd Tait, DVM opened the first ASPCA spay/neuter clinic in Brooklyn. As of 1968, the New York City shelters, then managed by the ASPCA, had killed a quarter of a million homeless animals six years in a row. The toll since 1968 has fallen in almost every year, dropping to just 5,095 in 2014.
The Humane Alliance, with an annual budget of about $3 million and $3.7 million in assets, is not even 10% of the size of the ASPCA’s $35 million per year animal health program. Founded in 1866, the ASPCA as a whole is a $171 million per year organization, with $198 million in assets.
But the Humane Alliance has enjoyed extraordinary success since 1994, under founder William McKelvy and Quita Mazzina, part of the program since inception, promoted to executive director in 2000.
McKelvy formed the Humane Alliance after learning that the North Carolina rate of shelter killing was more than twice the U.S. norm. At peak, circa 1970, when shelter killing for the U.S. as a whole reached 115 dogs and cats per 1,000 humans, Justice for Animals founder Nancy Rich surveyed shelters to discover that North Carolina was killing 238 per 1,000 humans.
The introduction of smaller low-cost dog and cat sterilization programs lowered the toll markedly during the next 25 years. But according to research done by SpayUSA volunteer Peter Marsh, North Carolina shelters were still killing 35 animals killed per 1,000 humans, still twice as many as the national average, when the Humane Alliance debuted.
Marsh, engineer of the subsidized s/n program that had already made New Hampshire in effect a no-kill state, inspired McKelvy and Mazzina to rapidly expand from serving just the Asheville area to sterilizing animals for more than 40 humane societies and animal control agencies within a 100-mile radius.
The Humane Alliance had already sterilized 48,000 dogs and cats in five years, but was only beginning to build momentum.
Funding from the ASPCA and PetSmart Charities in June 2008 enabled the Humane Alliance to opened an expanded clinic and training center in Asheville. After this proved successful, the ASPCA and PetSmart Charities funded an even larger clinic and s/n training center opened in July 2014. The Humane Alliance had by then performed more than 362,000 s/n surgeries itself, and had trained personnel for clinics that had performed 4.8 million s/n surgeries.
The Humane Alliance has also become a national leader in promoting early-age sterilization. After finding in a survey of 704 veterinarians that only 19% then sterilized female dogs and cats before their first heat cycles, the Humane Alliance in mid-2013 introduced a national campaign to encourage sterilization at four months, a goal now also promoted by SpayUSA founder Esther Mechler through the Maine-based organization Marian’s Dream.
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