Ed Sayres, president and CEO of the ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), has dedicated more than 35 years of his life to improving the welfare of animals. His commitment to the issues of pet overpopulation and animal cruelty has established him as a leading voice in the global animal welfare community.
Under Sayres’ leadership, the ASPCA has risen to new levels of national prominence. Sayres is the guiding force behind the ASPCA's effort to build collaborative partnerships across the country with municipal and non-profit animal welfare agencies, so that they may provide positive, life-saving outcomes for animals at risk, homeless animals in particular. Communities from Tampa, Fla. to Spokane, Wash. are working to decrease needless euthanasia of at-risk pets in their communities with funding and resources provided by the ASPCA.
“Homelessness is the No. 1 risk factor for companion animals in communities across the United States,” says Sayres. “These are the animals most likely to die in shelters for no other reason than the mere fact that they, for whatever reason, lack a home. Our partnerships aim to address this problem by putting programs into place that provide positive outcomes for these animals.”
Prior to joining the ASPCA in June 2003, Sayres was president of the San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SF/SPCA), a “no-kill” shelter that became a model for animal shelters throughout the country, including the ASPCA's adoption center in New York City. Sayres led the SF/SPCA partnership with San Francisco Animal Care and Control, a pioneering alliance that has increased live release rates** and reduced euthanasia and the number of dogs and cats at risk. During Sayres’s tenure, the live release rate for cats and dogs continued to improve, and since his departure, has been a sustainable 75 to 80 percent. Sayres analyzed the success of the SF/SPCA model, and applied it to the ASPCA’s partner communities, where animal welfare and other professionals on the ground carry out its programs, principles and philosophies.
In New York City, with Sayres’ guidance, the ASPCA helps fund the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals, a coalition of 160 animal rescue groups and shelters working together to reduce euthanasia in New York City's shelters. Since 2003, euthanasia of the more than 42,000 animals entering New York City’s shelters each year has dropped from 74 percent to 39 percent.
Sayres’ exposure to animals began with his father, uncle and grandfather, all of whom were handlers for champion show dogs. He bonded with many of these dogs and thus began a lifelong commitment protecting animals.
In the early 1970's, Sayres worked at St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, a statewide animal protection agency in Madison, N.J., where he would remain for 20 years. He served as president of St. Hubert’s for 14 of those years and created the largest humane society-based dog training facility in the country. He also organized and became the first president of the Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey, an alliance of 115 groups that worked together under his leadership to advocate for animals.
Prior to 1998, Sayres was the director of PetSmart Charities, where he administered the grants program and managed in-store adoptions, resulting in the placement of more than 150,000 animals annually. From 1995 to 1997, he served as director of the Animal Protection Division at the American Humane Association, where he took the lead in recognizing the importance of managing feral cat populations humanely and promoted the “no-kill” movement in the national debate on animal sheltering practices.
Sayres has a Masters in psychology from Sonoma State University. He and his family live in New York with their rescued dog, a poodle mix named Jezebel, and a once-stray cat, Mr. B.
*The ASPCA is the nation's oldest animal welfare organization, founded in 1866, and inspired the creation of SPCAs and humane societies nationwide--all of which operate independently from the ASPCA.
**Live Release Rate refers to the number of animals leaving the shelter system alive, whether through adoption, return-to-owner, or transfer to an agency where adoption is guaranteed.