New program looks to give shelter dogs in NYC a staycation

This weekend, New Yorkers can take shelter dogs out for a day on the town as part of Animal Care Centers of NYC's "BoroughBreak" pilot program.
This weekend, New Yorkers can take shelter dogs out for a day on the town as part of Animal Care Centers of NYC’s "BoroughBreak" pilot program. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Spencer Platt

Everyone likes a field trip — including the city’s homeless dogs.

Animal Care Centers of NYC is asking dog lovers to consider taking one of its shelter dogs on a visit to a park, a ride in a car or just home to relax for a few hours.

The new “BoroughBreak” program, which will pilot this weekend, is designed to give dogs some attention and time outside of shelters while they wait for someone to adopt them into a forever home. If the weekend is successful, the program could extend into the summer.

“Even with all of the enrichment we provide to the dogs in our care, living in a shelter can be super stressful,” ACC foster manager Sonja Gorzkowska said in a statement. “By encouraging the community to spend even just a few hours hanging out with an awesome dog, they can make a huge difference in the life of that pet.”

ACC officials said people who want to participate in the program must provide government-issued identification and a cellphone number. If they use a car to transport the dog, ACC will take a photo of the car’s license plate.

ACC is contracted by the city’s Health Department to handle all of the city’s homeless and stray animals. And it’s the only shelter in the five boroughs that is required to take in every animal that comes through its doors, whether it’s from an owner who can no longer care for it or one found wandering in the street.

The agency took in more than 20,000 dogs and cats in 2018, but also takes in a large number of rabbits as well as exotic animals that are illegal pets in the city. Even with the help of rescue groups and off-site adoption events, finding homes for all the animals in need is challenging.

Anyone interested in the “BoroughBreak” program can visit the Manhattan ACC shelter at 326 East 110th St. from 10 a.m. to noon between May 24 and May 25.

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