NEW YORK--Following many months of intense negotiations, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), the Mayor's Alliance for NYC's Animals and NYCLASS (New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets) expressed support for a legislative package (Intro. 655) being voted on today by the City Council. In addition, the negotiations resulted in a commitment to expand the Animal Care & Control (AC&C) board.
The legislation would improve New York City's animal shelter by:
- Requiring animal receiving centers in the Bronx and Queens, as well as field services, to operate seven days a week, 12 hours per day (up from one and two days a week, respectively, and limited field services);
- Ensuring the maintenance of full-service animal shelters in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island;
- Requiring owners to spay or neuter any owned cats who are free roaming outdoors (or face a fine; such cats would not be seized under the new legislation);
- Implementing rules that support trap-neuter-return (TNR) ; and
- Requiring the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to provide a report 24 months from the day the bill is signed that will provide key data on trends on the progress and quality of care at each full-service animal shelter and animal receiving center.
In addition to the legislation and funding increase, this agreement also provides for the expansion of the board of AC&C by two public members (for a total of six public members), with the goal of appointing individuals who not only have a passion for New York City's animals but also operational and fundraising expertise.
The legislation specifically articulates authority for expansion of services and facilities. The language states, "Nothing contained in this chapter shall be deemed to limit the department's authority to offer additional services or facilities to facilitate the decline in numbers of unwanted and uncared for animals in New York City."
As a result of this legislation, an additional $1 million will be invested into NYC AC&C this year, and by July 2014 the City's annual budget for sheltering and services will exceed $12 million, a 77 percent increase over current funding.
"We cannot stand by and let animals suffer in our city," said Ed Sayres, president and CEO of the ASPCA. "Intro. 655 is an immediate solution in the midst of this crisis. We absolutely believe that there must be animal shelters in all five boroughs, but we need urgent support now! We are particularly pleased by the hallmark aspect of this agreement, which is the expansion of the AC&C board. We call on the City to expand the board by year's end."
"Providing these additional funds now will allow AC&C to hire new staff, including management positions, kennel technicians, adoption counselors, dog walkers, canine and feline assessors and veterinary staff," Sayres added. "Additionally, quality control coordinators, staff trainers and New Hope staff are needed to help facilitate quality of care and placement of more animals."
"In these tough fiscal times, access to increased monies for programs and services that have been stretched so thin is a welcome change," added Jane Hoffman, president of the Mayor's Alliance. "Providing this infusion of critical resources will help save more lives and prevent animal suffering. We applaud Council Member Lappin, Speaker Quinn and the Mayor's Office 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," said 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, as well as the Health Department should be commended for tackling these critical concerns for New Yorkers."
"We look forward to continued dialogue with the Administration, the Council, and Speaker Quinn on how we can work to make long term improvements to AC&C so that we can improve the lives of New York City's two- and four-legged residents," said Sayres. "This means revisiting the issue of board composition and enhancing it to have a compliment of members with operational expertise as well as the ability to fundraise. A well-funded animal control program decreases potential threats to public health and safety. It's good for everybody."