Plan Will Add Staff, Expand Receiving Hours, Increase Stray Animal Pick-up, Reduce Feral Cat Populations Through Increased Trap-Neuter-Return Programs, Increase Dog Licensing
New York, NY – Wednesday, July 27, 2011 – Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Council Member Jessica Lappin, New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, Animal Care & Control of NYC (AC&C), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals today announced an agreement that will significantly enhance services and care for dogs and cats that come into the City’s animal shelter system. As a result of the agreement, the Health Department and AC&C will increase the number of staff in shelters and receiving centers, expand the number of days and hours that animals may be dropped off or picked up, and increase the rescue of stray, injured, and abandoned animals. With legislation sponsored by Council Member Lappin, the City will commit to increasing its investment in the shelters over the next three years by nearly $10 million. This year, an additional $1 million will be invested, and by July 2014, the City’s annual budget for the shelters will exceed $12 million — 77 percent above current funding. The Health Department projects that once this funding increase has been fully implemented, shelter staffing will increase by as many as 100 personnel.
“The overwhelming majority of pet owners in New York City are responsible and caring, but unfortunately, 40,000 dogs and cats enter our shelters each year because their owners cannot or do not care for them.” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Despite a difficult budget climate, we are committed to significantly improving the way animals are cared for while they await adoption. I want to thank Speaker Quinn, the Health Department, Animal Care & Control of NYC, and our city’s leading animal welfare organizations for reaching this important agreement.”
Ongoing conversations between the Bloomberg Administration, City Council members, and community animal organizations culminated in today’s agreement, which focuses on how to best care for the City’s animals, continue to increase adoption rates and reduce euthanasia rates, and expand spay neuter programs to reduce the number of animals needing shelter — all in the most fiscally responsible way possible. With the agreement, the Health Department will no longer have a legal obligation to build and maintain full-service shelters in every borough, only to maintain the existing shelters in Staten Island, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. The elimination of the expense of building shelters in Queens and the Bronx, which would have cost the City millions in capital funds and annual operating costs, has allowed the city to re-evaluate how to provide needed services. This agreement will result in increased care of animals at the shelters, expanded hours at receiving centers, and increased services to the people and animals of New York City. As a result of the agreement, the Health Department will also, for the first time, require that free-roaming cats be neutered and issue rules regarding trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs to help control the City’s feral cat population. The Department will also work with the Council and advocates to increase dog licensing, which will make it easier for owners to find lost dogs as well as raise revenue to support the enhancement of the City’s animal services.
In addition to these programmatic enhancements, the Health Department is investing in capital improvements for animal care facilities. It has recently completed an award-winning design for a new shelter in Staten Island, has plans to improve the customer service area in the Bronx receiving facility, and will continue to pursue a new animal receiving facility in Queens.
“We are steadfast in our commitment to improving the way the City cares for abandoned and homeless animals,” said Council Speaker Quinn. “The expansion of services in this legislation will better the lives of animals in the shelter system and help increase adoption rates so that more cats and dogs can be placed in permanent homes. Mayor Bloomberg, Council Member Lappin, the Health Department, AC&C, and the city’s leading animal welfare organizations collaborated to reach this agreement, and I thank them for their hard work.”
“This is a great step in the right direction,” said Council Member Lappin. “It will make it much easier for New Yorkers to do right by their dogs and cats and will reduce the number of unwanted animals.”
“This legislation will increase the number of animals adopted by New Yorkers and improve shelter conditions for the thousands of animals that currently pass through the New York City animal shelter system,” said Health Committee Chair Maria del Carmen Arroyo.
“Over the last several years, the City, working with AC&C and its rescue partners, has greatly increased the percentage of animals that have been adopted from the City’s animal shelters,” said Commissioner Farley. “With this agreement, we will be able to focus resources and provide even better services for the thousands of dogs and cats who come into the shelter system. Our highest priority over the long term, though, is to reduce the number of animals that enter the City’s shelters, and to do that, we need to promote responsible pet ownership. For New Yorkers who own pets — especially cats that are allowed outdoors — that means ensuring that pets are spayed or neutered.”
“We are very grateful to Mayor Bloomberg and the members of the City Council for the increased resources and renewed commitment that they are putting into animal welfare in New York City,” said Julie Bank, executive director of AC&C. “AC&C is committed to providing high-quality care for the animals that we rescue and increased services to the animal owners and other community members that we serve in the five boroughs. We look forward to continuing our work with our partners to increase adoptions, decrease euthanasia, and provide care to animals in need.”
“Together with the Mayor’s Alliance, the ASPCA supports these amendments to restore services and funds to NYC’s shelter system,” said Ed Sayres, president and CEO of the ASPCA. “Providing this infusion of critical resources will help save more lives and prevent animal suffering.”
“In these tough fiscal times, access to increased monies for programs and services that have been stretched so thin is a welcome change,” said Jane Hoffman, president of the Mayor’s Alliance. “We applaud Council Member Lappin, Speaker Quinn and the Mayor’s Office, and the Health Department for addressing these issues.”
“Restoring such key services is essential to not only saving more lives of dogs and cats, but also improving public safety for New York City’s residents,” added Steve Nislick, co-president of NYCLASS, a non-profit animal welfare and advocacy organization devoted to improving the quality of life for residents and animals of the City of New York. “The Mayor’s Office, Speaker Quinn, Council Member Lappin, and the Health Department should be commended for tackling these critical concerns for New Yorkers.”
Under the agreement reached today, Council Member Lappin will sponsor a bill scheduled for a hearing in the fall that would require the City to:
- Accept dogs and cats in Queens and the Bronx 12 hours a day, seven days a week, up from 8 hours a day, one or two days a week;
- Pick up stray, injured, or abandoned dogs and cats 12 hours a day, seven days a week, with a particular focus on Queens and the Bronx, where there are no full-service shelters. Vans will be available around the clock to respond to situations that threaten public health;
- Issue rules to register trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs for the control and eventual reduction of feral cat populations;
- Require that all owned free-roaming cats be spayed or neutered to reduce the number of unwanted and feral cats; and
- Require the Health Department to issue a report 24 months from the day the bill is signed that will provide key data on trends on the progress at each full service animal shelter and receiving center.
The Health Department estimates that only about 20 percent of the City’s 500,000 dogs are licensed, which is a legal requirement for all dog owners. Increasing licensing rates will help owners find their lost dogs, and also raise revenue to support the enhancement of the City’s animal services. To ensure that more New Yorkers license their dogs, the Health Department will:
- Launch a City-wide public awareness campaign;
- Make it easier to license dogs online and place self-serve licensing kiosks at animal shelters and other sites;
- Conduct targeted outreach to remind dog owners of the licensing requirement; and
- With the Council, seek state legislation that would increase the base dog licensing fee, currently $8.50, which has not changed in more than 80 years. The legislation would also increase the part of the licensing fee, currently $1 per license, which pet stores and other entities are able to keep if they process a transaction at their facilities.
Each year, more than 40,000 animals are taken in by AC&C. Do your part by having your dog or cat spayed or neutered. Altering your animal improves its behavior, improves its health and life expectancy, and helps make sure that fewer unwanted animals are born.
About the Animal Care & Control of NYC
Animal Care & Control of NYC (AC&C) is the largest pet organization in the Northeast, rescuing nearly 40,000 animals each year. As a not-for-profit organization since 1995, AC&C has been responsible for NYC’s municipal shelter system, rescuing, caring for, and finding loving homes for homeless and abandoned animals in NYC. To service all NYC communities, AC&C facilities operate in all five boroughs.
Volunteer with AC&C: The Volunteer Program is a great way to get involved at AC&C. By attending volunteer training classes, volunteers have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of animals by learning the necessary skills to work with animals. They can also foster animals to improve a pet’s well-being and provide adoption counseling to potential pet owners to help quickly find animals new, loving homes.
Adopt from AC&C: AC&C aims to find loving, permanent homes for animals as quickly as possible. People who seek to own a dog or cat should visit an AC&C shelter.
Stu Loeser / Samantha Levine
Office: (212) 788-2958
Susan Craig / Chanel Caraway (Health)
Office: (347) 396-4177