Mayor Bill de Blasio included $10 million in his 2017 executive budget to build two new full-service animal shelters in Queens and the Bronx. Once complete, it would be the first time all five boroughs in New York City have an animal shelter.
On Monday at the Alley Pond Environmental Center in Douglaston, northeast Queens elected officials and animal rights advocates celebrated the inclusion of funds for the design and siting of the two new shelters.
“That’s the sadness of what we have in Queens and the Bronx, how can you have two of the biggest boroughs without an animal shelter?” Councilman Paul Vallone said. “That has been the unanswered question for decades.”
Councilman Barry Grodenchik, who has two adopted cats, spoke about his personal love for animals and the importance of the funding.
“We love them and they love us and they are a part of our family,” Grodenchik said. “If anything were to happen to them, God forbid, we would want to take care of them in the best possible way. We would hope that’s true for all the animals here in Queens County.”
Both councilmen acknowledged that the initial $10 million is just a first step. It will fund the design and finding a location for the new shelters, but not their construction and operation. That would require more investment in the future from the mayor and City Council.
Grodenchik said he will push the administration to get it done.
“We will hold this administration’s feet to the fire,” he said. “We will continue to follow up on this over the coming years to ensure we get what we need in Queens.”
NYCLASS, an animal advocacy organization, said that city-led adoptions will double in the next few years with the opening of the two new shelters. Last year, roughly 7,000 pets were adopted throughout the city. By 2018, the organization projects nearly 16,000 animal adoptions.
Allie Taylor, executive director of NYCLASS, said on Monday that building two new shelters will not only help residents of Queens and the Bronx, but alleviate the burden on the other three boroughs with animal shelters.
“This means New Yorkers can easily and conveniently find loving companions in their home neighborhoods, right in their own communities,” Taylor said. “Lost and sick animals can receive the care immediately without being sent to other facilities.”
Currently, Queens and the Bronx only have receiving centers, so if residents want to adopt, they have to travel to another borough or find a mobile adoption truck. The two boroughs also don’t have a consistent place where animals can receive medical services.
Taylor spoke about the positive effect new shelters will have for animals. She said they will receive better, more humane care and equal access to services.
“The other animals in the city’s care will have more space, more attention and overall humane treatment,” she said.
Taylor, who has three cats, acknowledged that moving forward there is much more work to do to ensure these shelters become a reality.
“We’re still going to need the city to step forward and provide full funding for the construction of the shelters, as well as annual recurring funds for the operating of the shelters,” she said. “We need to make sure we do a full audit of the operating resources needed at all the shelters to make sure all five of them will have the resources they need to provide the highest quality of care.”