ASPCA: City Should Handle Animal Care
More than a decade after dropping its contract with the city of New York to provide animal care and control services, the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) is lobbying for legislation to establish a new city agency, the Bureau of Animal Control Services, within the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The recommendation to place animal care and control services under the direct jurisdiction of the city of New York for the first time in the city's history was introduced at the November meeting of Community Board 7 in Flushing.
Currently, animal care and control services are provided to the city under a contract with the nonprofit Center for Animal Care and Control (CACC). This includes responsibility for animal pickup, shelter services, adoption, humane euthanasia and preparation of animals for rabies testing.
The ASPCA, also a nonprofit, was responsible for animal care and control in New York City from 1894 until January 1, 1995.
"There is a need for a full service [animal] shelter in Queens," said Lisa Weisberg, ASPCA senior vice president for public affairs. The Queens Receiving Pet Center run by CACC at 92-29 Queens Blvd. in Rego Park is open only on Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"New York City will have to spend $25 to $35 million to do a decent job," said Weisberg, ASPCA never received more than $4 million in city funding and Weisberg said CACC gets $7.5 million in city funding.
"We estimate there are 1 million dogs in all five boroughs but the city only licenses 10 percent. If the city and DOH [Department of Health] were to enforce the dog licensing law, they could double the $7.5 million in funding," she said.
New York state law requires that all owned dogs be licensed and the New York City Health Code requires every dog owner to have a dog license tag attached to a dog's collar while in public. Dog owners may be fined for violation of these laws.
"The dog license fee [$8.50] hasn't been increased since 1974," Weisberg said. "We are proposing all shelters sell dog licenses and require licenses to be purchased when anyone adopts a dog."
Weisberg said the lack of funding made it impossible for ASPCA to continue with the city. "We had done [animal care and control] for 100 years and quite frankly, we knew we weren't doing a very good job. It was taking us further from our mission, which is to prevent animal cruelty."
Fifty percent of animals at CACC shelters are euthanized, said Isaac Sasson, chair of the Board 7 health committee. "There is inadequate care under CACC control," he said. In addition to Queens, The Bronx also lacks a full service animal shelter," he said. A resolution to support the ASPCA was tabled pending further review by committee.
"Basically, we're asking for a truly comprehensive animal control department and program that requires more funding," said Weisberg. "[ASPCA] is not planning on getting back into the animal control business."
In other business, an application to extend the term of a previously granted variance permitting the operation of an auto service station in a residential zoning district at 154-11 Horace Harding Exwy. was approved.