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Animal shelter may be thrown to the dogs

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If Mayor Bloomberg’s $500 million contingency budget cut plan goes into effect, the Queens shelter of the Center for Animal Care and Control at 92-29 Queens Blvd. in Rego Park will be put to sleep.

CACC has already suffered budget cuts and will lose between $1.6 million and $2.1 million by July, said CACC Executive Director Marilyn Haggerty-Blohm.

Once open five days a week, the agency’s Queens shelter can now afford to operate only Wednesday and Thursday, forcing residents who pick up stray animals to drive to Brooklyn or Manhattan on other days, she said.

Queens, home to 22 percent of the city’s animals, has already experienced living without a shelter, Haggerty-Blohm said. Due to technical problems at CACC’s Manhattan headquarters near the World Trade Center after Sept. 11 and financial struggles, the Queens shelter was shut down for about six months. It only reopened after the Shelter Reform Action Committee and the city Department of Health pressured the agency to provide services in Queens.

City services and agencies are facing financial cuts in Mayor Bloomberg’s fight to close a nearly $5 billion budget gap. He is asking them to scale back spending as he lobbies Albany and Washington to help bail out the city.

“It’s a tough situation,” said Haggerty-Blohm. “We are very hopeful that the mayor and the state and the federal government can close the (budget) gap. We feel the services we provide are essential.”

The shelter holds stray animals until they can be transferred to a CACC full-service shelter in another borough. Haggerty-Blohm said CACC would try to find ways to continue providing services in Queens.

If the shelter closes, she recommends stray-animal finders go to the 2336 Linden Blvd. shelter in Brooklyn near South Ozone Park or the 326 E. 110th St. shelter in Manhattan across from Long Island City.

Reach reporter Brendan Browne by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.

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