BRIARCLIFF MANOR – Responding to the overwhelming need to assist the state’s humane societies, SPCAs and nonprofit and municipal animal shelters with their efforts to improve their building and equipment, the New York State Legislature and Governor Cuomo included the $5 million Companion Animal Capital Fund in the 2017-18 State Budget.
In its yearly survey, the NYS Animal Protection Federation found that there are 15 shelters with over $50 million of capital needs–from building new shelters to renovating dog kennels and expanding cat areas to upgrading medical facilities. The Companion Animal Capital Fund will enable eligible sheltering organizations to focus their fund raising efforts on providing updated and upgraded facilities that will enhance animal care and health, increase humane education and create more companion animal adoptions.
“New York is now the first state in the nation to provide capital funding for animal shelters,” said Libby Post, Executive Director of the New York State Animal Protection Federation. “The Fed proposed the Companion Animal Capital Fund and greatly appreciates the leadership of Assembly Member Deborah Glick (D-66) and State Senator Phil Boyle (R-4), both of whom championed the bill in their respective houses. There are over 80 shelters across the state. Our 2017 survey showed a $50 million capital need at just 15 of them. With Governor Cuomo’s support, this funding will enhance the lives of companion animals in New York and make a substantial difference for animal shelters across New York.”
“This will make a huge difference for shelters across New York,” said Shannon Laukhuf, Executive Director of the SPCA of Westchester. Having the Companion Animal Capital Fund will enable us to strengthen our fundraising because matching state funds may well be available to us.”
Over 150,000 animals come into shelters across New York each year. In 2016, close to 81,000 dogs and cats were adopted from 91 animal shelters across the state. In 2016, The SPCA of Westchester cared for 1,542 animals. 1,338 of these animals were adopted into loving homes and 134 were lost pets returned to their grateful owners.
The cost of a municipal sheltering contract is far less than establishing and maintaining a government-operated animal facility. Not-for-profits, SPCAs, humane societies, and other animal organizations provide this vital service to local governments under contract, often saving them both time and money. They not only care for homeless animals, but also offer “safe harbor” pet retention programs for victims of domestic violence, conduct agility and training programs, and hold animals as evidence in criminal animal abuse cases, which is ultimately a public, not private charge. Animal abuse cases can be prohibitively expensive for shelters, yet shelters voluntarily step in to care for animals in need because they are committed to helping their localities and law enforcement provide this service.
Shelters have traditionally performed these functions with very little state support and many of these facilities haven’t had building renovations in several decades.
The Companion Animal Capital Fund will be administered by the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets. Projects will have to be shovel ready and the shelters will have to provide matching funds in order to show the readiness of the capital project.