Coronavirus News: NYC launches COVID-19 pet hotline

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- The New York City Emergency Management Department and the Mayor's Office of Animal Welfare announced Tuesday the launch of the NYC COVID-19 Pet Hotline, which will serve as an information, planning, referral and service coordination hub for residents who need support for their pets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pet Hotline operators can be reached directly at 877-204-8821, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

"Pets and service animals are a part of our family, and we want to alleviate any concern associated with having to take care of these family members during these trying times," Emergency Management Commissioner Deanne Criswell said. "We are thankful to our task force members who have stepped up to help New Yorkers who need this service."

The Pet Hotline and supportive services are being provided by the city's Animal Planning Task Force, which is coordinated by NYC Emergency Management.

"This administration has always understood that animals share our homes, our lives, and are sometimes our closest companions," Mayor's Community Affairs Unit Commissioner Marco Carrion said. "We must support and plan for all New Yorkers, including four-legged ones, during these times, and we are grateful to all of the animal welfare partners who have stepped up to create the Pet Hotline and provide lifesaving services to animals."

The Task Force is a collaboration between city agencies and nonprofits, including the Humane Society of the United States, the ASPCA, Animal Haven, Animal Care Centers of NYC, Bideawee, American Red Cross, Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, NYC VERT, New York State Animal Protection Federation, Best Friends Animal Society, and PAWS NY.

"During this time of uncertainty and fear, we understand people need the comfort of their companion animals more than ever," said Christine Kim, Senior Community Liaison for the Mayor's Office of Animal Welfare. "In order to keep people and their animals together, we have ensured that animals are included in the safety net we have created for all New Yorkers."

The Pet Hotline will help mitigate people's questions and concerns about keeping their pets during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as connect callers to pet relief resources such as subsidized emergency veterinary care and food and supply distribution services.

"The COVID-19 crisis affects all New Yorkers, including pet owners seeking information and resources to keep their companion animals safe," said Brian Shapiro, New York State director for the Humane Society of the United States. "This pet hotline offers valuable direction and assistance to those most in need."

For New York City residents with pets requiring a higher level of care, cases will be escalated for coordination of temporary placement or supplemental care of animals.

"Although critical animal care resources are now available for pet owners who need them, including pet food, urgent medical services, and emergency boarding, knowing how and where to access these services during a crisis can be challenging," ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker said. "The NYC COVID-19 Pet Hotline will significantly help solve that problem."

The city's COVID-19 pet response plan is the first of its kind in the country.

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