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NYC Officials Break Ground On New $92M Animal Care Center in Bronx

Thu May 25, 2023 - Northeast Edition
New York City Department of Design and Construction

City officials, Animal Care Centers of NYC and the project team gather to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Bronx Animal Care Center. (NYC Department of Design and Construction photo)
City officials, Animal Care Centers of NYC and the project team gather to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Bronx Animal Care Center. (NYC Department of Design and Construction photo)

Officials from several New York City departments joined animal advocates and members of the community May 18 to break ground on the city's newest Animal Care Center in the Baychester neighborhood of the Bronx.

The $92 million project, which is planned to open in spring 2025, is being managed by the city's Department of Design and Construction (DDC) for the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Department (DOHMH) and the Animal Care Centers of New York City (ACC).

The new facility represents New York's ongoing commitment to its four-legged residents — as well as their human families — by running a full-service animal shelter in each borough. The 50,000-sq.-ft Animal Care Center will have space for approximately 70 dogs, 140 cats, 30 rabbits and 20 animals of other species, according to a DCC news release.

Among those in attendance for the construction's kickoff event were DOHMH Commissioner Ashwin Vasan, DCC Commissioner Thomas Foley and ACC Chief Executive Officer Risa Weinstock, along with other animal advocates and members of the community.

"With great pride, we break ground today for the new animal shelter in the Bronx," said Weinstock. "Behind this milestone achievement lies the unwavering dedication of passionate advocates and tireless individuals who have worked diligently behind the scenes. Their commitment and efforts have brought us to this momentous occasion.

"We are building a world-class shelter where compassion, care, and hope will thrive," she continued. "[It] will serve as a sanctuary for animals in need, a place where they will receive the love, attention, and support they deserve. Together we can make a lasting impact, thanks to the incredible advocacy and unwavering dedication of those who championed this cause."

Vasan echoed Weinstock's comments when he spoke to the group.

"We know that companionship is an antidote to isolation and can improve our well-being and quality of life. We are looking forward to bringing this center online for New Yorkers of all species. It is the least we can do for them, considering all that we do for us."

Bronx ACC is Fourth of Five Planned Centers

The new Animal Care Center in the Bronx will house admissions, adoptions, medical services and boarding for the variety of animals that will be brought to the facility to await a forever home. There also will be smaller, self-contained housing groups, referred to as "pods," which will allow flexibility in housing options and greater ease in caring for animals.

The DDC noted that open areas on the site will include yards to help dogs to be adopted, covered exercise runs, courtyards and parking for staff, visitors and animal transportation vehicles, as well as site lighting and low-maintenance native planting throughout.

In addition to the animal housing, the center will include a community space. The building and associated landscape also are expected to achieve LEED Silver Certification for environmental sustainability.

The Animal Care Center in the Bronx is one of several animal adoption and shelter projects DDC is currently working on throughout New York City, including new facilities in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Last October, the city celebrated the completion of another ACC facility in Staten Island, and the department also is managing the construction of the new center in Queens.

"As we move forward with building an animal care center in the Bronx, which for too long has gone without one, we take another step toward a more equitable city," said Fred Kreizman, commissioner of Mayor Eric Adams' Community Affairs Unit. "Bronx residents shouldn't have to leave the borough to access important services offered by ACC, and this brand-new facility will benefit people and animals alike."

An important national animal advocate, Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), also weighed in on the efforts of the country's largest city to better care for its furry residents.

"Once the facility is up and running, vulnerable animals will no longer need to be transported to shelters in other boroughs, which will give local homeless animals their best chances at finding loving homes, facilitate reunions of lost pets with their families and alleviate pressure on shelter operations at the other facilities," he noted.

Bershadker added that the ASPCA works closely with Animal Care Centers of NYC "to drastically reduce euthanasia, increase adoptions and improve access to care for New York City's most vulnerable animals, and we look forward to continuing that longstanding support as ACC expands its services to help even more animals in need in the Bronx and across the city."

Agencies Work in Tandem to House Animals

The plans for the new ACC in the Bronx were created by New York-based Marvel Designs under DDC's Design and Construction Excellence Program, which pre-qualifies firms to provide design services for its public building projects, reducing the time required to procure designs while ensuring the highest levels of quality and professionalism in construction projects managed by the agency.

In 2022, DDC announced that 20 firms had been selected to provide architectural design services in the current round of the program, including 10 Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs).

New York's Animal Care Centers are run as a non-profit organization contracted by DOHMH to serve as the city's open-admissions animal-shelter system.

ACC finds placement for animals through direct adoptions from the public and through partnerships with hundreds of other animal welfare organizations. Before animals are adopted, ACC ensures that every animal is vaccinated and micro-chipped. Additionally, the non-profit offers resources to reduce pet surrenders so people can keep their animal companions and reunites lost pets with their families.

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