First Animal Care Center Proposed for Bronx

(Danielle Stanevicz)

By Keith Lopez

A heated debate erupted in the City Council hearing to discuss building a $60-million animal shelter in Co-op City. The shelter would be located at 2050 Bartow Avenue in the Bronx and be the first Animal Care Center facility in the borough.

The City Council hearing on October 9 was the last step in a decades-long process to bring a full-service animal shelter to the Bronx. Community members were invited to speak before the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime about the suitability of Co-op City as a location for the shelter. The Co-op City location was chosen by the mayor’s office and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOH), after a review of 20 sites.

(Paul Schadler)

The Council chambers were set up into two sections of 54 seats. Although it was expected to be one side for the people who wanted the animal shelter and the other for those against it, the hearing ended up being the front of the room against the back.

Before the hearing, security guards told the audience there was “no booing, no yelling and no clapping” allowed and that those who failed to follow directions would be removed.

Councilwoman Adrienne Adams opened the hearing saying that, although the animal shelter may not come to Co-op City, Local Law 123 of 2019 “requires the city to maintain a full-service animal shelter in each borough by July 1, 2024.” Advocates say the shelter is needed because there are more abandoned, stray and owner-surrendered animals in the Bronx than any other borough. They also say the “highly styled, eco-sensitive two-story structure” facility will host 260 animals, have a low-cost vet services for the community and offer a free pet food pantry.

Julie Friesen of the DOH said the new animal shelter would provide “counseling services” for pet owners along with an “animal medical clinic.” She reminded the public that a space big enough to accommodate all their desired services is needed, so at least “30,000 square feet.” She said that a Co-op City location would be equally accessible, highly visible and would also be a great way to increase animal adoption rates. According to DOH officials, 20 years ago only 20 percent of animals were placed in shelters but now the ACC would be able to accept any type of animal brought into the shelter.

(Eli Christman)

Councilwoman Adams and Councilman Andy King asked DOH official Jeff Dupuy when the community was alerted about the proposed animal shelter. He responded that the community had been aware “for a few years.” The audience immediately began yelling “no” or “not true,” and were reminded by security guards that there was no yelling allowed in the chambers.

The subcommittee then opened the floor for testimony from the public. Most of those in favor of the animal shelter cited the 117 jobs it would bring. And, that while Co-op City may have a no pet policy, the animal shelter was for the people of the Bronx. They also believe that it’s a “now or never” for the animal shelter. Some audience members said that if the shelter doesn’t happen now, that the vacant lot will eventually be taken over by condos or that most of the audience members wouldn’t be “alive” long enough to witness an animal shelter in the borough.

Those against the animal shelter primarily objected to the location. They feel Co-op City is crowded enough as it is, and an animal shelter would make it worse. The traffic by the Bay Plaza Shopping Mall, they said, was already backed up with cars passing on the I95 and the 11 bus services that travel to and from Co-op City. Others said they objected to the shelter because they should have been notified before a previous hearing on May 24. Others said they were worried about animals escaping into the busy Bay Plaza Shopping Center. This has never happened at an ACC facility, according to shelter advocates.


Some Co-op City residents want the animal shelter in another part of The Bronx and would prefer to bring a youth community center or a sports facility to 2050 Bartow Avenue.

Once testimonies wrapped up, Councilwoman Adams invited everyone to submit written testimony within the next 72 hours for those who didn’t get to express their full opinion and for those who didn’t want to speak at the hearing.

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