On September 9th, 2009 the city was given 60 days to come up with a plan to implement the Animal Shelters and Sterilization Act- an act passed in 2000 and since blatantly ignored. The law required full-service shelters to be built in all five boroughs by 2002. Since then, Queens and the Bronx have only small part-time receiving shelters that fall well-short of the space, time, man-power, and adoption networks required. Full service means the following: "a facility ... that houses lost, stray or homeless animals and (1) accepts dogs and cats 24 hours per day, 7 days per week]; (2) has an adoption program open 24 hours per day, 7 days per week; and (3) provides sterilization services for dogs and cats ."(Â§Â§ 17-802 c), 17-809) The law also requires that all animals be sterilized before leaving a licensed shelter for adoption or return to its owner, except in specified situations."
In 2009, the judge in the case, Judge Shafer said, "[The city has]... blatantly failed to comply with the mandatory requirements of the Act, which unambiguously requires shelters in each borough, not in 3 out of 5, open 24 hours per day, not 12 or "as needed." That was a year and a half ago.
The City has appealed the decision in an effort to keep costs down, but citizens of Queens and the Bronx rightly contend that they are paying taxes for services that other boroughs are receiving and they are not.
It is estimated that 43,000 animals end up at the shelter each year and half of them are euthanized; with more room, the animals get more time- more time to languish in the filth of the city shelters, but also more time to find that one person or one family that cannot resist them and brings them home. Many dogs are given as little as 2-4 days before they are put to sleep, more space could mean giving them another few days to find homes.
Instead of complying with existing laws, Mayor Bloomberg has signed into law "Intro. 328" to increase dog licensing fees for unaltered pets from $11.50 to $34.00. The income will be used for spay and neuter services. The act also bans tethering for more than 3 out of every 12 hours and the use of heavy steel chains. While spay and neuter is a crucial part of the fight against over-population, it is clear to me that the city is turning its back on the already alive population of strays in favor of charging the tax-payers to prevent overpopulation in the future. I see this as an attempt to maintain the status-quo in the shelters. Bloomberg and the City have a legal responsibility to not only prevent overpopulation but to care for the population of animals that exist right now.
Meanwhile, beautiful dogs like these, that were put to sleep in the last two days in New York City, will never live to see a happy family and a warm home.
Read more here, here, here, here, and here.