By Mark Hallum
A law to require the establishment of full-service animal shelters in each borough passed the City Council unanimously June 7 to lighten the burden on “receiving centers” in other parts of the city and provide better care to animals taken into the system.
City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) introduced the legislation five years ago and since then has acquired city funding for land and facilities to back up the law.
“Throughout the last four years, Speaker [Corey] Johnson and I have fought to make full-service animal shelters a reality for Queens and the Bronx. Only one option is acceptable for this city and the residents of Queens and the Bronx — a fully functional animal shelter with adoption, veterinary and educational services,” Vallone said. “Having animal shelters in every borough reflects our belief that all animals should be protected and given the opportunity to find a home. After almost three decades, five administrations and an uncertain future, we could not afford to wait one more day.”
The new law will take full effect in 2024 and restores an old requirement that expired in 2011, after Local Law 59 passed, which relieved the city of its obligation to create and maintain shelters in Queens and the Bronx in exchange for funding of non-government shelters.
Receiving centers only take in lost animals and strays, providing some care before moving them to another facility, usually in Brooklyn.
Vallone said in a release that his office has lined up $10 million in capital funds for land acquisition and design for two new facilities in the Bronx and Queens.
Earlier this year, the de Blasio administration announced it would move forward with building a shelter in the Bronx and in April, the city said it would be moving the Queens receiving center to a larger facility.
“This legislation is vital when you consider that the key to saving lives is not just housing homeless animals, but more importantly, re-homing them. Even though the combined populations of Queens and the Bronx—nearly 3.6 million people—is more than that of every American city except Los Angeles and New York City itself, their animal receiving centers in no way serve the goal of adoption,” Michelle Villagomez, senior legislative director of the ASPCA, said. “When you put this bill together with the Council’s commitment to fund the plan to build state-of-the-art animal shelters in the Bronx and in Queens, you can clearly see a city rising above — and leading — when it comes to animal compassion and welfare.”
In May 2016, projections released by Vallone and City Councilman Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), as well as former NYCLASS Executive Director Allie Taylor, showed that New York City pet adoptions could more than double from installing new animal shelters. That same year adoptions from city shelters numbered 7,158 and was estimated to reach 16,000 by 2018.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall