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Mayor touts funding for Queens first animal shelter

By Patrick Donachie

Dogs, cats and other animals of all shapes, sizes and stripes will soon have a new city shelter in Queens—the first of its kind in the borough.

In the release of his new fiscal year 2017 budget Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that more than $10 million in capital funding would be allocated for two new animal shelters—one in Queens and one in the Bronx. The funding marked the largest investment in the animal-shelter system since the city government first took over operations of the shelters more than 20 years ago, according to the mayor’s office.

The city contracts with Animal Care Centers of NYC to run the shelters. ACC operates three full-service animal shelters in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island, and has two animal admission centers in Queens and the Bronx.

With a new Queens shelter, animals could be medically treated at the site, missing animals could be properly sheltered and people could directly adopt animals at the location. Animals found in Queens are currently transported from the admission center to another borough’s shelter for the full range of services.

“Our animal shelters deliver services to upwards of 35,000 animals,” Mayor de Blasio said, referring to the number of animals taken in per year. “These two new shelters in Queens and in the Bronx—boroughs that combined see more than 14,000 cats and dogs—will increase the city’s bandwidth to ensure that all missing, homeless and abandoned animals within the city receive the care they need.”

The mayor’s office said the city took in 9,328 cats and 5,834 dogs from Queens and the Bronx in 2014. The three shelters operated by the ACC are not no-kill shelters, according to the website of animal advocacy group No Kill New York.

The plans for the funding include $2 million in FY 2017 to design the shelters followed by an additional $8 million in the following fiscal year to acquire land. According to a spokesman from the mayor’s office, a more concrete timeline on construction and a proposed date for the opening of the facilities will be released once the city has selected and acquired the land.

In recent years, the mayor’s office allocated $3.5 million in capital funds for the Brooklyn shelter for renovations and $5 million for the Manhattan ACC shelter to help transform a garage into a new adoption center. The heads of ACC and the ASPCA both lauded the funding the mayor’s office had allotted for the new shelters.

“This money may finally bring full-service shelters to the Bronx and Queens, dramatically improving the chances for local animals to get adopted and find safe and loving homes,” said Matt Bershadker, president and chief executive officer of the ASPCA.

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdonachie@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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