At last Wednesday’s Community Board 5 meeting, pet advocates said while the larger space for pet admissions is welcome, the city promised a full-service animal shelter for Queens. Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island all have one, and another is on the way to the Bronx.
Phyllis Taiano, who runs Four Paws Sake in Middle Village, questioned why Queens, the second largest borough in the city, doesn’t have a full center to call its own.
“A full-service facility would provide more comprehensive medical care for stray and unwanted animals, and serve as an adoption center to help find loving homes,” she said. “Queens is in desperate need of more resources.
“We’re pleased to have this facility,” she added, “but we need to do more for Queens residents as a whole.”
Mary Tschinkel, president of Friendly Ferals in Forest Hills, attended the meeting as well. She said she has fielded many complaints about the long waiting list at Animal Care Centers, a nonprofit contracted by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
“It’s not acceptable,” Tschinkel said. “You really need to get your act together.”
Animal Care Centers is the only open-admissions pet shelter in the city, taking in nearly 30,000 animals annually. According to Aleah Simpson, the manager of admissions and surrender prevention programs, they take in all kinds of animals, no matter if it’s sick, injured or abandoned.
Simpson stressed that though they take in animals, they also work to help people keep their pets. The center provides services such as low-cost or free vet care, giving tips to owners, and even providing leashes and collars.
Their goal, Simpson said, is to end animal homelessness in New York City.
The nonprofit is hoping to move to a bigger space at 66-78 69th Street in Middle Village to add a food pantry, vaccine clinics, room for medical treatments, and dog-walking seminars.
“If we expand it and have more space to store these supplies, we can do more for the community in Queens,” Simpson said.
An architect with the Health Department said that the Middle Village location is close to the M train and bus lines, and is more visible than the current Rego Park site. The 69th Street location is also 1,400-square-feet, double the size of the current 700-square-foot site.
He added that the new center will have two parking spots available for the public to use. ACC vehicles will park there overnight.
The animals will not stay at the Middle Village location overnight. At 8 p.m., they will be transported to the ACC’s Brooklyn shelter.
When asked about the center’s euthanasia policy, Simpson said their goal is to decide what’s best for the animal. She said 93 percent of their animals found adoption last year.
Community Board 5’s Land Use Committee will review the application, though members noted concerns about parking.
“This is just a band-aid on a very serious issue,” said board member Kathy Masi, referring to the two parking spots.