UPPER EAST SIDE — The ASPCA is planning to open a new facility by the end of summer to care for orphaned kittens and dogs seized by police during animal cruelty investigations, the organization announced.
The new facility, which will be located near the organization’s animal shelter and hospital on East 92nd Street between First and York avenues, will house a kitten nursery and a specialized recovery ward for the dogs in effort to handle the overflow of needy animals, the group explained.
ASPCA officials said about 4,500 kittens entered the city’s shelter system, run by Animal Care and Control, last year. Because of their age and the fact that many of them are orphans, kittens often require a high level of care, including bottle feeding, which is difficult for the city’s over-burdened shelter system to provide, the organization noted.
“The ASPCA has been an invaluable partner in our efforts to help New York City’s homeless pets, and caring for underage kittens is an area of particular need and urgency,” said Risa Weinstock, executive director of AC&C, in a statement. “In the past few months we have already seen the number of kittens entering the shelter system spike.”
The new facility will have a specially trained staff and 200 cages for nursing cats with litters and orphaned kittens, the ASPCA said, noting that almost 2,500 kittens could be admitted to the nursery over the course of the feline breeding season from April to September. The kittens will come directly from Animal Care and Control shelters and will be put up for adoption through the ASPCA or local rescue groups once they reach 8 weeks.
The facility will also house the Gloria Gurney Canine Annex for Recovery and Enrichment, which will hold up to 60 dogs at once, all of them taken by the NYPD as part of animal cruelty investigations. A dedicated team of medical and behavior experts will staff the annex to care for the dogs through medical treatment and behavior assessments and rehabilitation, the ASPCA said. Its ultimate goal is to place these animals in permanent homes.
The opening on the annex comes on the heels of a new initiative to turn animal cruelty cases over to the NYPD. In the past, people reported animal cruelty and neglect to an ASPCA hotline, which sent a unit to investigate. Starting in September 2013, responsibility for animal cruelty cases was transferred to the NYPD. The ASPCA, in turn, expanded its capacity to treat the injured animals that are seized.
“At the current pace, the NYPD will make three times as many arrests and — together with the ASPCA — save five times as many victims of animal cruelty in New York City this year than the ASPCA alone was able to do during any year in recent history,” said an ASPCA spokeswoman by email.
The ASPCA is renovating an existing building to serve as the home for the nursery and annex, which are expected to open by the end of summer.
“We have reached a milestone in the city with more than 80 percent of homeless dogs and cats leaving the shelter system alive thanks to our partnership with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, Animal Care & Control of New York City and local rescue groups,” said ASPCA president and CEO Matt Bershadker, in a statement. “We’re now zeroing in on some of the remaining in-need populations.”