Flushing’s Animal Haven to close its doors in March

Cats in the “timid” room at Flushing’s Animal Haven, which will close in March. Photo by Christina Santucci
By Anna Gustafson

Dismal fund−raising prospects are forcing Flushing’s Animal Haven, a no−kill shelter for cats and dogs, to close its doors in March, leaving the nonprofit’s employees scrambling to find homes for the 60 remaining cats, according to one of the group’s executives.

“Animal Haven is sizing its operations to a more manageable level, as we feel this is the cautiously optimistic and responsible way to handle ourselves, given the fund−raising outlook for the foreseeable future,” interim Executive Director Tiffany Lacey said in a statement. “With our resources, we want to assure that we are not only adequately providing for the animals that are in our care, but also be able to find loving homes for those animals.”

Representatives from the shelter were not available to comment on from where Animal Haven’s funding comes. According to a statement on Animal Haven’s Web site, the Flushing facility’s closing is not due to the current economic recession. It will officially close March 1.

Animal Haven, a nonprofit organization located at 35−22 Prince St. that finds homes for abandoned cats and dogs, announced the closing of its Flushing facility at the end of January. The group also shuttered its upstate sanctuary last month. Animal Haven will continue to operate its adoption center in SoHo.

The organization will also focus more heavily on its mobile adoption unit, which visits all five boroughs and areas surrounding the city and in New Jersey.

Shelter officials are now trying to place the last of the cats at the Flushing location.

“We started out with 240 cats and placed the others,” said Jennifer Bristol, Animal Haven’s director of operations. “We have a lot of leukemia cats. They’re extremely friendly, but unfortunately sick.”

“We would love for people to come and meet them,” Bristol added. “We have a lot of loving cats, a lot of seniors and some with medical problems.”

When Animal Haven ends its operations in Flushing next month, it will leave Queens with only one no−kill animal shelter, said Ozone Park resident Bobbi Giordano, founder of Bobbi and the Strays animal rescue.

“I feel bad about it. I really do,” Giordano said. “We really needed them. We need some more no−kill shelters.”

The end of the Flushing site could bring more animals to Giordano’s shelter, located at the Shops at Atlas Park in Glendale, which has already seen an influx in residents due to the bad economy.

“I have so many more, you have no idea,” Giordano said. “It’s really bad … A lot of people use the economy as an excuse to give up their animals. I had gotten two beagles in that way this week. Last week a man came in and threw an orange kitty into the place and took off. That’s the second time that has happened.”

City Councilman John Liu (D−Flushing) said while he is working with ASPCA and the Humane Society to work on long−term solutions for homeless animals, he cannot produce the “short−term dollars necessary to keep the shelter open.”

“This closure could not come at a worse time,” Liu said.

For more information, visit www.animalhavenshelter.org.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

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