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Vallone seeks to bring animal shelter to boro

A bill introduced this week by City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) seeks to make sure each borough of New York City has its own full-service animal shelter.

The councilman formally introduced the bill at this week’s stated meeting, with the bill already backed by dozens of fellow council members from Queens and the Bronx, the only two boroughs that do not currently have animal shelters. The legislation seeks to revisit a law passed by the Council in 2000 that required the city to build full-service shelters in all five boroughs, but Queens and the Bronx still remain without them.

In 2011, a law was passed to eliminate the mandate that all boroughs have full-service shelters, leaving the two remaining counties to function solely with receiving shelters that do not provide the same type of treatment as full-service facilities.

“Receiving centers are not enough,” Vallone said. “They do not provide shelter or medical care for homeless animals, nor do they provide a place to recover lost pets before they’re euthanized. To not have one in every borough in 2014 is just amazing.”

Vallone said the lack of shelters in Queens and the Bronx often make it harder for animal owners to find their pets if they become lost. The pets are eventually taken to a full-service shelter in another borough, but many owners do not know where to go or how to find their lost pet.

“Since animals brought to these receiving shelters in the Bronx and in Queens must be transported to a full-service shelter in the other boroughs, their continued absence places insurmountable pressure on the existing facilities which already operate at maximum capacity,” he said.

The councilman said because of overcrowding, many animals are often euthanized if they are not claimed by owners.

Vallone said the bill already has an overwhelming amount of support from other members of Council, particularly in the two boroughs that suffer from the burden of not having full-service animal shelters of their own. Before the bill was introduced, he circulated a letter, eventually sent to Mayor Bill de Blasio, that secured signatures from almost every council member in Queens and the Bronx pledging their support of the legislation.

After leaving the hearing Tuesday, Vallone said he felt good about the reception the legislation got and is hopeful it will move through the Council quickly.

He said the estimated cost for building one shelter in each borough was about $40 million, each carrying operating costs of about $7 million per year. Though the money for this initiative was not allocated in the 2014-15 city budget, Vallone’s bill seeks to continue pushing for funding to make shelters possible in every part of New York City.

“In the end, homeless animals are the ones that face the consequence,” Vallone said.

See complete story at TimesLedger.