The New York City Council unanimously passed a bill on Thursday requiring that a full-service animal shelter be built and maintained in every borough.
The bill, sponsored by Council Member Paul Vallone who represents District 19 in northeast Queens, will restore a legal requirement for New York City to build an animal shelter in all five boroughs that was previously removed by a law passed in 2011.
Now that that requirement is once again in place, the city has until July 1, 2024 to build shelters in the Bronx and Queens.
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“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,” Vallone said in a statement. “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.”
Vallone introduced the bill five years ago. Since the city’s requirement to maintain an animal shelter in every borough was overturned, the Bronx and Queens were left with just “receiving centers,” according to the ASPCA, which do not provide shelter or medical care for homeless animals or a lost and found for lost pets.
There are Animal Care Centers of NYC (a nonprofit contracted by the city to run the city’s shelters) currently in Manhattan. The city did announce in January that a 47,000-square-foot Animal Care Centers of NYC facility was projected to open in the East Bronx in 2024.
In April, the city announced that the Queens one would move to a larger, temporary location while officials search for a spot to set up a full-service animal shelter.
“Full-service animal shelters in the Bronx and Queens will help more at-risk animals get adopted and end the detrimental transportation of vulnerable animals to neighboring boroughs, which increases the stress on those facilities and hinders reunions between lost pets and their owners,” said Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA, in a statement.
“We thank the City Council and Council Member Paul Vallone for moving these vital projects forward, and call on the mayor to fund them in his budget,” he added. “We’re committed to working with ACC and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to see these facilities make an enormous difference in the lives and well-being of tens of thousands of New York City owners and animals.”