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Photo via Creative Commons
Photo via Creative Commons

A Bayside-based lawmaker’s effort to bring a fully functioning animal shelter to each of the city’s boroughs is moving forward.

Councilman Paul Vallone’s bill restores the legal requirement for the city to build and operate a full-service animal shelter in each of the five boroughs by July 2024. The bill was voted through the Committee on Health on June 5 and passed City Council unanimously on June 7.

Currently, Queens and the Bronx only have receiving shelters, which don’t provide shelter or medical care for homeless animals. The receiving shelters are also unable to provide lost-and-found services. Animals brought to these shelters must be transported to a full-service shelter in one of the three other boroughs to receive these services.

Under the bill, the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) will be required to submit a report detailing progress toward opening the Bronx and Queens shelters to the City Council and the mayor in 2020, 2022 and 2024. The location for the Bronx site has been identified, while the search for a Queens location is still in progress.

With existing facilities currently operating at maximum capacity, Vallone said, many healthy homeless animals are euthanized.

“Having animal shelters in every borough reflects our belief that all animals should be protected and given the opportunity to find a home,” the councilman said. “After almost three decades, five administrations and an uncertain future, we could not afford to wait one more day. I am proud to pass this important legislation as we send a clear message to everyone who has been fighting this battle, even long before we’ve been here, that the greatest city in the world deserves the greatest shelters in the world and this is a legacy we can be proud of.”

In 2000, a law to mandate full-service animal shelters in all five boroughs passed. However, the requirement was scrapped under “Local Law 59” in 2011. Vallone’s bill restores this requirement.

In 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced $10 million had been set aside in the budget to bring two brand-new animal shelters to Queens and the Bronx. The Brooklyn shelter in East New York will also see a $27.3 million upgrade.

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