By Mark Hallum
Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) reintroduced a bill to City Hall which will mandate an animal shelter be built in Queens as part of the advocacy work he began in 2016 to bring relief to overburdened receiving centers and reduce euthanasia.
Vallone received the green light to build a shelter in the Bronx and Queens in May 2016 along with $10 million from the city’s FY 2017 executive budget, but with the Bronx center already in the works, he claimed his new bill ensures an adoption facility is established in his home borough.
“Receiving centers are not enough! They do not provide shelter or medical care for homeless animals, nor do they provide a place to recover lost pets before they’re euthanized,” Vallone said. “Most importantly, since animals brought to these receiving centers in Queens must be transported to a full service shelter in the other boroughs, their continued absence places insurmountable pressure on the existing facilities, which already operate at maximum capacity. In the end, homeless animals are the ones that face the consequences of this pressure, as many otherwise healthy pets are lost to euthanasia.”
Under the leadership of Vallone’s father, former Council Speaker Peter Vallone, a 2000 law required the city to add an animal shelter in every borough in the city. This, however, was repealed by a 2011 bill known as Local Law 59, Vallone said.
“Throughout the last four years, [City Council] Speaker [Corey] Johnson and I have fought to make full service animal shelters a reality for Queens and the Bronx. I applaud the administration for moving forward with the new Bronx shelter as it reflects their commitment to this important issue,” Vallone said. “If it were its own city, Queens alone would rank as the nation’s fourth largest and it is unacceptable that no animal shelter currently exists.”
Projections released at a May 2016 news conference by Vallone and Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), as well as NYCLASS Executive Director Allie Taylor, showed 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 in 2016. “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.”
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall