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OpinionEditorial

De Blasio can be animals’ best friend

The city’s animals deserve a safe, clean, modern place to call home.

This lot on Bartow Avenue in the Bronx

This lot on Bartow Avenue in the Bronx is scheduled to be the site of an animal shelter. Photo Credit: Jeff Bachner

If only animals could protest on the steps of City Hall, write an email to the mayor or attend a public hearing.

Instead, we have to be their voice.

In the summer, the number of cats, dogs and other unwanted pets or strays brought to animal shelters tends to rise. The situation shines a spotlight on the need for more full-service animal shelters in NYC, especially in the Bronx and Queens, where no such shelters exist.

City officials last month added $3 million to the animal shelter system to pay for a mobile adoption van and additional medical services. Those will help, but not enough.

NYC shelters take any animal that’s brought to them, and still euthanize some, though the rate has dropped. Last year, 93 percent of the animals were placed for adoption, according to Animal Care Centers, the not-for-profit organization that runs the shelters. In 2003, more than 60 percent of the animals were killed.

Better facilities would help Animal Care Centers provide better care. More spacious digs, with more light and space, could keep animals healthier, which could result in more adoptions and limit the number that are euthanized.

In June, the City Council passed a bill sponsored by Councilman Paul Vallone, a longtime advocate, that would require NYC to build and maintain a full-service shelter in every borough by 2024. Similar legislation was passed before but no mayor was able to deliver results. Mayor Bill de Blasio should be the first to establish the shelters in the Bronx and Queens.

The Bronx has $60 million allocated, and a planned site in Co-op City. But some residents object to the spot, saying they worry about traffic and would rather have a youth center. City officials should address realistic concerns and, if they can’t, find another location. Queens, meanwhile, has a plan for a center where animals could be dropped off and taken elsewhere. This is not good enough; there must be a full-service shelter.

Whether from Bayside or Belmont, dogs, cats, rabbits and more deserve safe, clean, modern places to call home until they can find families of their own.

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