By Mark Hallum
Politicians and animal rights activists gathered at Alley Pond Environmental Center to welcome funding for the first animal shelter in Queens.
The $10 million for the project comes from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s FY 2017 Executive Budget and will be invested in shelters for Queens and the Bronx.
Projections released by Councilmen Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) and Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), as well as NYCLASS Executive Director Allie Taylor, show that New York City pet adoptions could more than double from installing new animal shelters. In 2016, adoptions from city shelters numbered at 7,158. The number is estimated to reach 16,000 by 2018.
“It really is a scandal that we don’t have a full service shelter in Queens,” Grodenchik said. “To get to Brooklyn, which is the nearest shelter, it begs the question of why this has taken so long. This has been a quest for so many civic leaders and animal lovers for so long. We will hold this administration’s feet to the fire. We do want to thank Mayor de Blasio for taking this step.”
The fight to receive funding for a shelter goes back to the early 1990s, when Paul Vallone’s father, Peter Vallone, was the speaker of New York City Council.
“These new full-service shelters would end the stress on the three existing shelters. This means that New Yorkers would easily and conveniently be able to find loving companions in their own home neighborhoods,” Taylor said. “And it means that lost and sick animals can receive the care immediately without being sent to other facilities. It’s a win-win for our city, our residents and for our animals.”
A location for the facility has not been narrowed down, but organizers are looking at potential sites that residents will be able to access via public transportation.
“I think everything is on the table. You want to have something that’s conveniently located, you don’t want people to continually have to drive. The train should be an option, the bus should be an option. That’s part of the study of site location and the design construction,” Vallone said, adding that the shelter would not be located in northeast Queens on account of the fact that none of these options are available.
“I am glad that our delegation’s advocacy for a new full-service animal shelter in Queens led to this shelter’s inclusion in the executive budget,” Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said in a release. “I welcome our new four-legged neighbors to our great borough, and am glad we will have this new shelter to care for abandoned cats and dogs and help them find forever homes.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall