We deserve more.
That’s the message to the city from a grass-roots group of animal services advocates.
Bernadette Ferrara has been fighting for a full-service shelter in the Bronx since 2006, but just last month she joined forces with other five other advocates to form the Bronx Animal Shelter Endeavor.
Ferrara and other members testified about the need for a shelter at the Bronx Borough Board’s city budget hearing on Wednesday, March 5.
Currently New York City’s Animal Care and Control, an organization funded by the city Department of Health, operates a pet receiving center in the Bronx. But the members of BASE say the center, which transports the animals it receives to the full-service shelter in Manhattan, does not adequately serve the borough’s needs.
“The residents of the Bronx and all New Yorkers cannot accept a Pet Receiving Center in borough of the Bronx as a sole means of humanely and effectively addressing overpopulation, adoption, education, pet retention, among other needs as well as the survival of homeless and abandoned animals cast off to die on the very streets of the Bronx,” said BASE member Donna Dechiaro in testimony she submitted at the budget hearing.
Ferrara said a full-center animal shelter would not only serve the animals, but it would also serve as an animal information center for the community.
She and the other members of BASE are also requesting that a new shelter have a spay and neuter clinic to preventively combat the overpopulation problem.
“It only takes one female to make a colony,” Ferrara noted.
There are mobile spay and neuter clinics run by the ASPCA and the Toby project throughout the Bronx, but there is no standing clinic in the borough, Ferrara said. Because of this, there are more and more animals that fall into the care of Trap, Neuter, Return rescuers like herself, she said, who take feral cats to get fixed and then return them to the neighborhood.
“The burden is being put on the backs of volunteers.”
Ferrara called the stray animal situation a crisis, and said the number of stray animals in the Bronx has increased since the economic downturn in 2008. When times are tough, she said, people abandon animals they can’t afford.
Her efforts to stop the cats from breeding in her neighborhood will work for a year or so, Ferrara said, but then someone abandons new animals and the stray population grows again.
“It’s just not making a dent in the situation,” she said.
She understands that an animal shelter is not at the top of most people’s priority list, Ferrara said, but she wants it to be recognized as a need. She and the other members of BASE will continue to push for a shelter.
“We’re not going to give up until the borough gets what it deserves.”