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ASPCA launches mobile adoption season with high-tech van

The new ASPCA van includes features such as LED lighting, perches mirroring adoption habitats and more to calm the animals.

ASPCA volunteer Rachel Falkenstein walks one-year-old Ursula outside

ASPCA volunteer Rachel Falkenstein walks one-year-old Ursula outside the society's new mobile adoptions van at an event near Tompkins Square Park on Sunday. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Taylor, Taki and Thea — 2-month-old triplet kittens — played in a small enclosure, visible from a large window of the ASPCA's newest mobile adoption van set up along Avenue A on Sunday. They swatted a small toy around and delighted passers-by.

The brand-new van, out for its debut weekend, is helping the animal organization usher in its 2019 mobile adoption season, which generally lasts from April through December, said Eileen Hanavan, the director of volunteer and foster engagement for the ASPCA. 

"After 13 years I think [it was] well deserved," Hanavan said of the mobile unit refresh, adding about the animals: "We want to make them as visible as possible but keep them feeling as secure and safe in this environment. Going out to a new place and traveling through New York City in a vehicle, there's stressors for people so of course there are for animals."

The van can fit about 20 animals and goes out every weekend for different adoption events throughout the city, she said. On Sunday, there were five cats and four dogs on hand. 

The new van includes several features that weren't in the previous model like windows at the back for more light and air circulation, perches inside the cats' kennels that mirror the habitats in the adoption center, and LED lighting inside the kennels, which helps illuminate the animals at night or on a more cloudy day. New artwork showcasing animals that previously have been adopted from the ASPCA with drawings by the artist "Subway Doodle" dot the outside of the bright orange van.

Hanavan noted that the van also includes a new sound system that helps to calm the animals.

"We can play either ambient noise or soothing sounds to help reduce stress during transport … which can be really valuable for the animals," she said. "Sometimes classical music … we play in our adoption center bird sounds, even just listening to NPR or a podcast, the cadence of somebody speaking can be relaxing or soothing."

On Sunday, Chelsea resident Esther Han, 49, and her family fell in love with Ursula, a 1-year-old lab mix that was brought up to New York just a few days ago from the South. 

"How she is with all the people walking by and all the other dogs, you don't get that sense when you're visiting [an adoption center] because they're isolated," Han said.

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