Remarks by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg at a Public Hearing on Local Laws (9/27/11)
"The first of five bills before me today is Introductory Number 655-A, sponsored by Council Members Lappin, Brewer, Williams, Mark-Viverito, Vacca, Mendez, Chin, James, Koslowitz, Garodnick, Gonzalez, Dickens, Dromm, Jackson, Weprin, Palma, Barron, Gennaro and Reyna. Introductory Number 655-A amends the Animal Shelter and Sterilization Act and enhances and expands services at our City animal shelters.
"The Bureau of Veterinary Health within the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene promotes and protects public health by working to prevent, discover, and intervene in cases of animal-borne diseases, hazards and complaints of animal nuisances. The Bureau is also charged with managing and caring for the City's population of owner-surrendered, abandoned, and lost animals through a contract with Animal Care and Control. Animal Care and Control ('AC&C') receives about 40,000 dogs and cats in its facilities every year. It provides the animals with veterinary care and shelters them in hope that they are adopted either directly from the shelter or through the many animal rescue groups affiliated with AC&C. AC&C also holds animals that are being evaluated for rabies and for behavioral problems following attacks on people. AC&C also conducts field pick-up of animals that present a public health risk.
"Introductory Number 655-A will substantially enhance the scope of animal care and control services that the Department of Health will provide and focuses their efforts on increased animal adoption and reduced animal overpopulation through methods other than euthanasia. AC&C will continue to operate three full-service shelters in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island that would be open every day to accept animals, offer animal adoption, and provide necessary veterinary care and animal sterilization. Of these three shelters, one will be available to receive animals 24 hours a day. In Queens and the Bronx, animal receiving centers hours will be expanded to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week.
"In addition, Introductory Number 655-A requires, for the first time, maintenance of field services to pick up animals from all boroughs, seven days a week, 12 hours a day, and at all hours when public health or safety is threatened. This represents a significant expansion of field operations, which currently operate weekdays from 9am to 5pm, with a field operator on-call at all hours to assist the Police Department in emergencies. Lastly, Introductory Number 655-A requires cat owners who allow their pets to roam outside to have them sterilized and authorizes the Health Department to promulgate rules to register "trap, neuter, return" programs, where feral cats are trapped, sterilized, vaccinated, tagged, and then returned to where they were found. These additional tools will ultimately reduce the abundance of feral cats on our streets.
"When the Council first enacted the Animal Shelter and Sterilization Act ten years ago, homeless animals were far less likely to be adopted, and far more likely to be euthanized than they are today. Today, the challenge facing the City is the need is to allocate and target resources to keep animals healthy and adoptable and to implement long term strategies that engage pet owners to reduce overpopulation. With the goal of increasing adoptions, funds associated with this bill will allow AC&C to add adoption counselors to facilitate matching pets to new owners.
"I would like to thank Health Commissioner Thomas Farley and his staff for their work on this bill along with my Office of City Legislative Affairs. I would like to also thank Speaker Quinn and Council Member Lappin for their leadership on this issue, as well as our partners in the animal welfare community for working with us to better address the needs of homeless animals in New York City."