New York’s Staten Island Animal Care Center seeks pet homes amid overcrowding and worker shortages

TOTTENVILLE, Staten Island (WABC) – An animal shelter on Staten Island is feeling the impact of the pandemic, with pets in desperate need of new homes and those running the shelter in desperate need of healthy workers.

The Animal Care Centers of NYC (ACC) are teeming with so many animals that you can hear the din of the streets.

It’s a relatively small refuge filled to the brim with all kinds of unwanted and adoptable pets, with lots of competition.

“We are overcrowded,” said Paul Sanders of the Animal Care Centers of NYC.

Sanders manages the Staten Island Animal Care Center site, which holds the city’s contract for animal shelters, which operates this facility, and two larger ones in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

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Sanders says they’re all overflowing with unwanted animals.

“Here on Staten Island I can optimally house around 31 animals safely, I’m almost at 50 at this point,” he said.

There are hundreds more across town.

System-wide, 544 animals are sitting in shelters on Wednesday night. That’s compared to just 353 last night last year. An increase of 54%.

At the same time, thanks to COVID, 30% of shelter staff are unable to work.

Typically, an animal spends about six days at the Staten Island Refuge.

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During this time, the dog or cat is evaluated and then adopted again. But because they are so understaffed due to COVID, that six-day deadline has increased to 14 days.

The animals don’t leave as quickly as usual, but that hasn’t stopped other animals from arriving.

It’s not that people are returning the animals they adopted at the start of the pandemic. Instead, Sanders says, it’s a more normal phenomenon.

Families are forced to give up their often aging pets, in many cases, because they cannot afford to care for them.

“We’re all feeling the pinch right now, we’re beyond our capabilities,” Sanders said.

He says these shelters don’t euthanize animals, but finding new homes for them is increasingly difficult.

In the end, it is the animals that pay the price.

If you’re interested in hosting an animal or volunteering at a New York animal care facility, visit their website for more details.

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Boyd S. Abbott