The ASPCA is arming all NYPD precincts with a new weapon to battle animal cruelty.
Each of the city’s 86 precincts — including Housing Police Service Areas — will be receiving microchip scanners, which can help detect small identification chips implanted under the skin of cats and dogs by their owners.
“In the fight against animal cruelty in New York City, we can use every piece of information and advantage available,” said Howard Lawrence, vice president of ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement. “A microchip can yield a valuable lead in an open investigation.”
The ASPCA is purchasing 100 of the devices, which cost between $100 to $200 each.
Each of the tiny microchips — which are about the size of a grain of rice — has a serial number. When it is found by a scanner, the serial number leads to a database that has information about the animal’s owner.
Several precincts across the city already have scanners and have been using them. The ASPCA provided grant money ensuring every precinct will have one.
ASPCA officials said a microchip helped the NYPD track down people responsible for a horrific animal cruelty case from 2016. An emaciated dog was stuffed into a suitcase and thrown into a dumpster on the Lower East Side.
More than 250 members of the NYPD received special training to use the scanners during a seminar at the Police Academy in Queens this past Saturday.
Animal rescuers have long advised pet owners to get their four-legged companions microchipped. Implanting the chip is painless and it helps reunite lost pets with their owners.
Shelters, such as Animal Care Centers of NYC, and veterinarian offices have scanners.
But don’t expect police officers to use the devices on lost and found cases. The NYPD contacts ACC to pick up lost animals that come into its care.
“If a dog is the victim of a crime, that animal is considered evidence and is brought to the ASPCA by members of the NYPD for a full forensic examination by an ASPCA forensic veterinarian,” said Sgt. Michael Murphy, commanding officer of the NYPD’s Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad. “If a lost dog or injured animal is found, Animal Care Centers are notified in order to pick up the animal.”
The ASPCA and the NYPD entered into an agreement four years ago to jointly handle animal cruelty cases in the city. The ASPCA previously had its own squad of police officers focused on animal cruelty cases but downsized and eventually disbanded the force.
Now the nonprofit provides forensic veterinarian assistance, medical treatment and other services for the animals while the NYPD handles investigations.
In 2017, the NYPD made 123 animal cruelty-related arrests and the ASPCA treated 652 animals in need through the partnership.