More than 560 abused animals have been treated this year by the ASPCA, which began a partnership with the NYPD last year. Police have also arrested more than 125 people for animal cruelty in 2015, up 25% from 2014, according to data obtained by amNewYork.
The cases this year include Madison, a black and white pit bull mix who was rescued by Brooklyn cops in March. She was discovered abandoned in a Canarsie house, malnourished and dirty with cuts on her nose and tail.
Police Officer Christopher Scaperotta, who serves in the 69th precinct, helped save Madison by bringing her to the ASPCA. She was only 49 pounds when cops found her, but she is almost 70 pounds now. Despite her size, Madison loves to give hugs and sit on laps, as well as play with tennis balls.
She and Scaperotta reunited on Friday at the ASPCA's adoption center in Yorkville.
"Madison seemed to recognize the officer immediately," said Natasha Whitling, a spokeswoman for the ASPCA. "She ran up to him and started licking his hands and trying to play with his hat. It was very sweet."
The NYPD formed an Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad in 2014 and the cops in its 77 precincts investigate animal cruelty complaints throughout the city. They became the lead investigators on animal abuse complaints in January last year. ASPCA staffers have helped train transit cops, detectives and housing cops, among other law-enforcement officials.
"Unfortunately, cases like Madison's are all too common," said Howard Lawrence, vice-president of the ASPCA's Anti-Cruelty Group, in a statement. "Through the success of our partnership with the NYPD, the ASPCA has been able to save more animals than ever before from suffering and dying abandoned and alone."
To help rehabilitate abused animals, the ASPCA has added a treatment ward to its animal hospital and has a new dedicated ward just for dog cruelty victims. It is 5,000 square feet and can house up to 50 dogs. They are given behavioral treatment so they can be adopted following medical treatment for abuse.
Arrests went up 219%, from 42 to 134, between 2013 and 2014, when the NYPD took the lead in animal abuse investigations. The number of animals treated rose 217%, from 133 to 422.
The New York City Police Foundation has also begun working with the ASPCA through Crime Stoppers. Tipsters can now get up to a $2,500 reward if there is an arrest and indictment following an animal cruelty tip. New Yorkers can also report animal abuse to 311, as well as 911 if it is a crime that is immediately taking place.
Dog lovers interested in adopting Madison can reach out to the ASPCA's Adoption Center on East 92nd Street, between York Avenue and First Avenue, and find more information at aspca.org. See Madison's adoption profile here.