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Vallone Calls on Congress to Reauthorize Zadroga

Following the tragic deaths last week of three firefighters—all in a single day and all victims of 9/11-related illnesses— Councilmember Paul Vallone announced signed by nearly every councilmember in The Bronx and Queens Delegation to Mayor de Blasio requesting that funding be allocated in the FY15 budget for these full service shelters to be built, but unfortunately the money was never allocated. Estimates indicate that it would cost about $40 million to construct the two shelters, and operating costs each year would total $7.5 million.

“The ASPCA fully supports Councilmember Vallone’s proposal to ensure the availability of full-service animal shelters for all New Yorkers,” stated ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker. “With the tremendous investment of the ASPCA and in collaboration with our many partners, we have made significant progress for some of our most vulnerable residents. However, there’s still much to do, and establishing full-service shelters in each borough is an essential step to getting us to a place where no adoptable animal dies.”

“We applaud Councilman Vallone for his leadership on this important issue. Advocates have long fought for these critical shelters to protect homeless, sick and abandoned animals in The Bronx and Queens,” stated Allie Feldman, executive director of NYCLASS, a nonprofit animal advocacy organization. “This will give animals the best chance at being adopted into loving forever homes. For too long, animals were literally left out in the cold but now with an animal-friendly mayor and council, these important issues are coming to the forefront.” he had submitted a City Council resolution petitioning and urging Congress to reauthorize the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

According to the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, Vallone said, Lt. Howard Bischoff and firefighters Daniel Heglund and Robert Leaver died within hours of one another from cancer-related illnesses sustained while working at Ground Zero following 9/11.

Vallone said the Zadroga Act, passed by President Obama in 2011, established the World Trade Center Health Program and reopened the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, providing financial and medical relief for first responders and their families, as well as anyone affected by the toxic air that blanketed Manhattan in the days and weeks following September 11. These programs, Vallone said, are critical to many across the nation, and are set to expire in October 2015 and October 2016 respectively unless Congress acts to reauthorize the bill.

Vallone (D–Bayside) stated, “Thirteen years later, our city continues to face the consequences of the tragedy of September 11. The loss of three of our retired firefighters on the same day is a reminder that we as a city, and furthermore as a nation, need to fulfill our commitment to our first responders and all those who continue to have health problems as a result of September 11. I am proud to call upon Congress to recognize this commitment and reauthorize the Zadroga Act so that we can continue protecting and providing assistance to those who need it.”

See complete story at Queens Gazette.