The 27-degree temperatures on Saturday, February 4, 2017 did not keep families and pet lovers away from the ASPCA’s first-ever coat giveaway for dogs and people alike at St. Mary’s Recreation Center and Park during the 5th Annual Bronx Recreation Winterfest.
Boxes brimming with more than 300 jackets and jerseys, scarves and sweaters, mittens and mantles—donated by ASPCA staff and volunteers—were shared with residents on hand for sports activities, arts and crafts, and games and giveaways geared toward people of all ages.
Sade Gibbs, 9, combed the pile for a coat for her pint-sized dog, Mia. “She already has two coats, but they don’t work for her,” explained Sade, who opted for a blue rain slicker. Her smile widened when she also discovered a matching bright pink leash and harness.
Erin Earley, Senior Manager of Community Services and Engagement for the ASPCA’s Cruelty Intervention Advocacy (CIA) team, along with Community Engagement Coordinators Isadora Peraza-Martinez and Evan Dunn, also made appointments for 22 pets to visit the ASPCA’s new Primary Pet Care (PPC) vehicle, which serves South Bronx for spay/neuter surgery and wellness appointments. They also distributed literature explaining how to report animal cruelty to NYPD.
“By providing free resources and information on our services, we hope to help pet owners keep their pets happier and healthier,” said Erin.
Second grade teacher Coua Vang and photographer Edwin Torres visited Winterfest with their pug, Toby, and left after making an appointment for Toby to receive vaccines and a nail trim. Toby also left with a new yellow raincoat.
Khaleelah Harris, with her daughters Saudia, 7, and Sahara, 6, made an appointment for a checkup for the family’s 2-year-old cat, Larry. “The kids love him,” said Kahleelah. “Because he’s cuddly,” added Sahara.
Local resident Joshua Martinez, a youth volunteer who has three neutered pit bulls, sorted through the winter wear and found a navy blue blazer for himself and a pink fleece jacket for his sister. “My dogs wouldn’t go for coats,” he explained.
Others did not share Joshua’s sentiment. Juan Gonzales, who donned a furry brown Chewbacca jacket, coincidentally found a matching jacket/costume for his 7-month-old American bulldog, Dory. Calvin Alston selected two coats for his Yorkie, Shack: an orange rain slicker and a red sweater with blue plaid lining.
The coat giveaway was conceived by ASPCA Community Advocate Selena Edwards, along with Erin, during a recent community council meeting at NYPD’s 44th Precinct. At the meeting, representatives from the ASPCA and NYPD (now in the fourth year of their partnership), and the NYC Parks Department agreed that Winterfest would be the perfect opportunity for a coat giveaway.
“We hope the ASPCA’s participation in our annual event is the first of many to come,” said Cathy Mitchell, Deputy Center Manager of the NYC Parks & Recreation Department.