Guest Blog by Michelle Villagomez, ASPCA NYC Legislative Director.
We have some exciting news! After months of talking with representatives from the New York City government, the City has agreed to support legislation to improve conditions in our city’s shelters. A bill has been introduced in the City Council that would not only restore programs and services to our animal shelters, but increase funding for our animal care and control programs. The City has already agreed to raise funding so that by July 2014 the annual budget for Animal Care & Control will exceed $12 million—a 77 percent increase over the current budget!
Intro. 655, sponsored by Councilmember Jessica Lappin, would improve New York City’s animal shelter system 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. (Currently the receiving centers are only open one and two days, and the field services program has been cut);
Ensuring the maintenance of full-service animal shelters in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island;
Requiring owners to spay or neuter any cats they own who are free-roaming outdoors;
Implementing trap-neuter-return (TNR) rules; and
Requiring the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to provide a report providing key data on trends on the progress and quality of care at each full-service animal shelter and animal receiving center.
This legislation, in conjunction with the increase in funding over the next few years, will allow the shelters hire as many as 100 additional staffers. If you’re a New Yorker, visit aspca.org/NYC_ACC to see how you can help make this happen!
Nearly 100 animals are on the move. ASPCA responders are currently en route to Long Island animal shelter Bobbi and the Strays, and they’ve got some precious cargo.
In anticipation of Hurricane Irene, animals being sheltered at Bobbi and the Strays were evacuated from its Long Island shelter to its adoption center in Queens. Today they were ready to go back home. The ASPCA assisted with the transport.
“While the storm has passed, our priority still remains to assist with any animal care and sheltering needs,” says Tim Rickey, ASPCA Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response. “We were happy to help Bobbi and the Strays transport these animals back to their main shelter site.”
Over the weekend, the ASPCA assisted with emergency sheltering and relief for displaced pets throughout the five boroughs of New York City.
“Our responders visited evacuation centers to assist with setup, evaluate the status of pets being housed, and deliver emergency pet supplies,” explains Rickey. “While we expected the storm to be worse than it was, our team was prepared to provide support where needed.”
I wish I could personally thank each of you for everything you have done so far to help animals affected by Hurricane Irene. To each of you who has welcomed an animal evacuee into your home, who has dropped off pet supplies at an evacuation center, who has spread the word directly or through Facebook or Twitter about protecting pets during the storm, who has volunteered, or who has simply kept the East Coast in your thoughts and prayers during this scary time, I thank you.
While the ASPCA is a national organization, we are headquartered in New York City. Many of our employees have had to evacuate their own homes, but still insist on working on our disaster response efforts. We have staff, volunteers and disaster relief experts from around the country working all night in several locations in New York and ready to deploy to the hardest hit areas as soon as Irene arrives.
Throughout Saturday, ASPCA responders visited evacuation centers across New York City to ensure those centers were equipped to care for pets accompanying their human evacuees. We are coordinating the disaster response efforts for animals with federal, state, and local officials as well as with other animal interest organizations.
The ASPCA’s Field Investigations & Response Team is called on to assist the animal victims of disasters and cruelty around the country. For example, in 2010, this group engaged in 27 full-scale deployments and more than 120 investigations and consultations to help animals in danger. Despite this breadth of experience, a historic hurricane in New York City will present challenges not seen in other disasters.
Rest assured that the ASPCA is prepared to act fast to aid the animals affected by Irene the best we can. We have a rescue boat and several massive tractor trailers full of supplies ready and waiting to go to the hardest hit areas. None of us knows what Irene’s aftermath will bring, but I can assure you that we will do everything we can to save the lives of animals endangered by this storm.
The storm has arrived in New York City. As the evacuation centers continue to fill with families, the ASPCA is focusing on providing care for their pets. "We expect the full impact of the storm to hit early tomorrow morning and have spent the day preparing and planning our response to any situation that may arise," says Tim Rickey, ASPCA Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response.
Our responders have been deployed to evacuation centers in all five boroughs of New York City. We’ve also created a hotline that evacuation centers can call to receive additional pet supplies and support.
"Our thoughts are with all of the families bracing for the impact of Hurricane Irene, and with those who are now faced with her aftermath," says Rickey. Stay tuned to ASPCA.org for more on this story.
As Hurricane Irene continues its projected course towards New York City, the ASPCA is helping pet parents prepare for the worst-case scenario.
All evacuation centers in New York and New Jersey are required to accept animals. Please don’t leave your pets behind!
Not sure if you’re in an evacuation zone? Visit this map to see if your home falls in a location currently required to evacuate.
All New York City taxis are required to transport pets. The city’s public transit system shut down at noon on Saturday, and the mayor reports that it is unlikely to resume service for several days.
If you haven’t already, please stock up on food, water, batteries, first aid kits and other emergency supplies to keep yourself and your pets safe during a storm or prolonged power outage.
Stay indoors! Irene is a slow-moving storm and will likely result in unpredictable surges and high-speed winds. Keep your pets with you at all times.
ASPCA responders are currently on site at emergency facilities across the five boroughs, and are ready to offer support and relief to the city’s pets and their families. For all the latest on Hurricane Irene and the ASPCA’s response, please stay tuned to ASPCA.org.