A rendering of the proposed shelter.

The Bronx has over 1.4 million residents yet does not have its own animal shelter. Now, finally, the city has proposed a state-of-the-art facility at 2050 Bartow Avenue that will shelter over 200 homeless animals as well as provide adoption, veterinary and education services.

The need for this facility is evident in the long lines even in harsh weather around Fordham Plaza for the low-cost “vet-mobile” that treats a limited number of pets on a first-come, first-served basis. It is heart wrenching to witness fellow cash-strapped Bronx residents in tears as they are turned away with their pets untreated. Many Bronx residents have to trek for miles outside the Bronx for low-cost veterinary care.

The proposed Bronx animal shelter will not only serve The Bronx but will also ease the burden on existing shelters that are overcrowded and where, as a result, the quality of care is compromised and animals are more at risk of sickness and euthanasia. Just this recent Memorial Day weekend, over 300 animals were surrendered to the existing animal-care centers. The Bronx animal shelter will not only provide additional space but with the educational programs and low-cost spay-and-neutering, it will prevent unwanted litters as well as keep pets in their household if issues can be resolved.

The Bartow Avenue site is located in a commercial strip at a transit hub, which makes it accessible via public transportation for many Bronx residents. The location doesn’t interfere nor interact with the residential zone of Co-op City nor does it influence in any way Co-op City’s policies including their no-dog rule. The proposed facility includes 68 parking spaces, 39 for clients and the remaining 29 for staff and shelter vehicles.

Despite the clear need for this sensible facility, there is resistance. On May 20th at the Community Board 10 housing and zoning committee hearing, there were yelps of anger that people must take priority over animals and that the city failed to consult with neighbors before proposing the shelter site. The hearing was organized around opposition to the proposed animal shelter even before the city presented its case. Yet the people in attendance don’t’ make up half of one percent of Co-op City’s 50,000 population.

The same sentiments against the Bartow site were expressed by Community Board 7 in 2008 before it voted against an animal shelter at the old Fordham library location. This time, real-estate interests and a hired-gun lobbyist are part of the discussion to take the site away from the proposed Bronx animal shelter and reserve it instead for different uses, including supportive housing for homeless veterans. The Riverbay Corporation, Co-op City’s property management company, wants to take away the site for a youth center. However, some years ago, Riverbay’s board of directors voted against a youth center at a large space that used to be a movie theater at the Bartow shopping center. They voted against it so they could instead rent it to stores, yet it still remains vacant and available for a youth center.

City Councilmember Andy King, whose district includes Co-op City, said his position on the shelter was about putting people before animals as well as him doing as his community wants him to do. But many of his constituents including residents in Co-op City will benefit from the close proximity of low-cost veterinary services for their service animals (which are allowed under the no-dog rule). There will also be job and volunteer opportunities for both youth and seniors. And there is clearly a need for more animal services there: In a recent letter to the editor of the Co-op City Times, residents expressed their need for a dog run for their quality of life and health.

Without more community support at the next public hearing on June 15 and without the action of elected officials who spoke words of support in the past, the Bronx will lose its golden opportunity of ever having its own animal shelter. It took the city three years to find this site after over 50 site visits throughout the Bronx. The City Council just passed a bill mandating full-scale shelter in every borough by the year 2024. Now the Council can follow through on its own bill by voting for the proposed Bronx Site on 2050 Bartow Avenue.

An animal shelter is not a luxury but a necessity in a civilized society. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The greatest of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

Roxanne Delgado is a member of Bronx Animal Rights Electors.

11 thoughts on “CityViews: Bronx Animal Lovers Must Fight for Their Borough’s Proposed Shelter

  1. Heartwarming news! Now might other shelters be upgraded? Several years ago we adopted a dog from the Brooklyn Animal Care and Control shelter. The dog was 9 years old…and seriously ill with kennel cough which we did not know about until we got him home and had to make a middle of the night trip to our animal ER. He survived and was the most marvelous pet one could imagine. He continued to have multiple medical issues but was a trooper and lived to be 13. We feel the staff did the best they could with the animals in that shelter but it was/is way overcrowded.

  2. My comments are simply this.Homeless animals exist for one simple reason and that’s irresponsible pet owners.Some of the properties mentioned were set up as future use for stores and what I’m guessing is that what the residents of the Bronx don’t want is added traffic congestion.I’m a veteran and I get the homeless veteran situation but what really aggravates me is our governments lack of respect and help for our veterans,especially homeless vets.I would urge the residents of the Bronx to allow the animal shelter to help not only their homeless animal situation but the surrounding areas.

    • The existing Petland Discount in Bay Plaza (at the planned back entrance “Low Cost Veterinary section” of the An. Shelter) has had years of successful mobile adoptions in coordination with ACC. The new image of a large attractive well run, state of the art, attractive, “Boroughbred” animal shelter is a great idea. This shelter will be a destination, almost like a small zoo or aquarium, where people can observe and interact with animals for adoption. Kind of like a large diverse “Pet Store”. That’s one reason why this site is so special for this 60 million dollar investment for the Bronx.

  3. Well done Roxanne. One of the absurd complaints about the shelter was that it would generate too much traffic. First of all I doubt it would. It is an animal shelter, not Jacobi Hospital. Secondly, the people complaining about traffic are seniors that don’t even drive. Community Boards have an age problem, a youth movement is necessary. Or community boards should be dismantled altogether. Keep in mind, the city doesn’t have subway access to LGA because of the NIMBYs that infect community boards.

      • There are at least 5 empty stores in Bay Plaza that will be adding Traffic as they fill up, there is a Hotel planned on the same side of the same street, how do they compare to an animal shelter?

  4. We have a Lobbyist explaining his client is planning a homeless veterans housing at the 2050 Bartow site. YET we did not hear anything about this, and the few cb10 members i have spoken with have not either. It seems they are manipulating the ULURP to be against the shelter and for a Youth Center that will never happen. A “Community Use” will be included in the supportive housing instead. LOL !! what a joke our leadership is.

  5. I am not buying the traffic excuse! I cannot believe that the proposed shelter would receive such backlash. The area really could use an animal shelter and jobs (not more retail jobs). It would also be nice to have a place to volunteer! What about the youth who might be inspired to find a career path here? What about the elderly who might benefit? I know lots of lonely & scared elderly people in Co-op City who would love to visit and volunteer. Maybe some people would learn compassion from the animals too! Other than going to retail stores and fast food places really what is there to do around here? Thank goodness, we still have the NYP Library! If Riverbay (Co-op City) wants a community/youth center why don’t they utilize their own vacant property? The Dreiser center or old bingo hall in the Bartow shopping center maybe? Or how about the area on Co-op City Boulevard that is being eyed for a park (haha they oppose the “public” park as well, meanwhile anyone can walk around in coop city; it’s not a gated community). There is a small youth program already in Section 5, maybe expand there. Also, why can’t Riverbay successfully form a partnership with Truman HS to use their facilities? Manhattan’s Battery Park neighborhood has one with the Community Center at Stuyvesant HS, and this would be no different! Also Coop City is not the entire CB10 so why do they think only their voice counts? It doesn’t count when it comes to removing sex offenders from the complex; only to prevent an animal shelter I see! The people who live on City Island have to deal with tons of traffic from off island residents and that’s just for people to stuff their faces. This is a sorely needed NO KILL animal shelter. I am literally fuming and at a loss for words. This is so disheartening and just another reason to make me want to move out of The Bronx! No Metro North, no animal shelter, no community center/ neighborhood amenities……all the promises always broken. I personally do not want any homeless shelters no matter the type. Our area already has a ton of homeless shelters and group homes. We are being sold out every day. Meanwhile Co-op city is SUPPOSED to be for middle income working people! Yeah OK. It’s the same old guard with their backward agenda. Who’s pocket is being greased?

    • Exactly, Please attend the city council hearing on Oct 9th Tuesday.

      The next and FINAL Step is the city council hearing on Bronx Animal Shelter & Clinic
      Date: Oct 9th Tuesday
      Time: 1:30 PM to 3PM
      Location: City Hall,
      NY, NY 10007
      (Council Chambers). Hearing starts at 2 pm but arrive by 1:30 to go through security and sign up to speak.
      If you can’t attend then send emails to Speaker Corey and even to the chair of the committee City Council Member Adrienne Adams at
      cc us on your emails so we can print them and HAND delivered them to this hearing.
      Use Email Subject “Bronx/Bartow Animal Shelter & Clinic”

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