Unleash the site/Petition supports animal shelter as BP weighs in

“We look forward to hearing from the community at our ULURP hearing.” – Borough President Diaz concerning his upcoming animal shelter hearing on July 19.

Animal rights advocates have mounted a petition drive to support a controversial animal shelter proposal.

Members of the borough’s animal rights and advocacy community said they have gathered thousands of signatures on a Change.org petition ahead of a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure hearing on Thursday, July 19.

The shelter advocates continue to mobilize despite heavy community opposition in Co-op City to a plan to build a state-of-the-art animal shelter, the first in decades in the borough, on city-owned land at 2050 Bartow Avenue.

Community Board 10 in a recent ULURP rejected the location even though it supports the need for an animal shelter in the Bronx.

Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. will hold his hearing at his office at 851 Grand Concourse on July 19 at 6 p.m.

“We look forward to hearing from the community at our ULURP hearing,” said Diaz.

Over 3,600 signatures were found on the Bronx Animal Rights Electors Change.org petition that was addressed to Diaz urging that he support the Bartow Avenue site.

Roxanne Delgado, of B.A.S.E. who helped organize the petitioning, said that she believes that competing plans for the site are behind much of the opposition.

Delgado said she felt it wasn’t helpful that CB 10 supported the idea of a shelter but not the site the city chose.

“It is the same thing as saying you don’t support it, because it took the city over three years to find the site,” said Delgado.

Donna Dechiaro, B.A.S.E. co-founder, said that the fact that the borough has no full-service animal shelter while the city is facing a crisis of tens of thousands of surrendered animals a year is concerning.

She said that the city purposely selected a site situated near a shopping center as opposed to an industrial area, as is more typical.

“Our message to the borough president is we are in a crisis right now and we cannot wait for an animal shelter,” said Dechiaro, adding “We have not heard what the alternatives would be, and don’t want to lose the funding and the chance to get the shelter (built).”

She said that idea of developing a shelter in an area with a lot of shopping, adjacent to the Bay Plaza Mall, would tale animal shelters “out of the shadows.”

Fellow B.A.S.E. co-founder, Dotti Poggi, concurred with Dechiaro’s assessment.

“If they have low-cost veterinary services, they will be used more,” she said, siting it near a mall could also mean more pet adoptions.

Poggi said that people who support humane causes are spread throughout the borough and city, a point that Councilman Andy King, who represents Co-op City, seized on.

King said that his constituents have spoken as it relates to the animal shelter, with a large majority opposed to the plan.

For the councilman, it is a matter of being respectful to the residents of the community.

“(The shelter’s supporters) are not listening to the people who live there,” King said of the people advocating for the shelter, adding his constituents will not be pushed around, bullied or cajoled into supporting the shelter.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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