New York Daily News - March 11, 2002
Animal sites face ultimatum
City to ax funds if 2 shelters, closed since 9/11, don't reopen
BY ROBIN HAAS and LISA L. COLANGELO
DAILY NEWS WRITERS
The city has threatened to strip the Center for Animal Care and Control of funds if it doesn't reopen facilities in Queens and the Bronx by the end of the month.
The center, which holds the city contract to handle stray animals, closed the two sites after Sept. 11 because of technical problems.
Despite protests from animal activists and the Department of Health, the animal receiving centers never reopened -- leaving two boroughs without any facility for stray animals.
"I think we made it clear to them that it's no longer a request," said Dr. James Gibson, assistant commissioner for veterinarian services at the Department of Health. "It's an ultimatum. We will with hold funds if they are not reopened by March 31."
According to Executive Director Marilyn Haggerty-Blohm, the center was forced to close the sites after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because phone lines and computers were knocked out. Staffers were transferred to other facilities.
But she said the center never reopened the receiving sites because of budget cuts. The center, which has a five-year contract with the city, receives about $8 million a year to handle animal control.
Gibson said the city would hold back $27,000 a month if the receiving centers are not reopened.
The center has full-service shelters in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island.
Animals brought to the receiving centers in the Bronx and Queens were transferred to the other boroughs by the end of the day.
"I do think it's significant, but it's coming awfully late," said animal advocate Gary Kaskel of the Shelter Reform Action Committee. "They ignored the order of a contracting agency since the fall."
Kaskel said the city has fallen behind on its own law to open full-service shelters in all five boroughs.
Haggerty-Blohm said it has been difficult getting community approval for shelters in both boroughs.
Kaskel and other advocates long have criticized the center, saying it's too quick to euthanize animals and not aggressive enough on adoptions.
But center officials say they are overwhelmed and underfunded. Unlike privately operated shelters, which can turn away stray animals, the center is required to take in all strays.
"I think we made it clear to them that It's no longer a request"
-- DR. JAMES GlBSON