The only no-kill animal shelter in the Bronx is in danger of closing because of high medical expenses, rising utility costs and a lack of funding. New Beginning Animal Rescue has until the end of October to save itself from closure.
The shelter was started by Pedro Rosario in 2011, a year after he established the boarding kennel NYC Top Dog. He became more interested in rescuing animals after seeing many of them killed while working at Animal Care Center of NYC—when he could no longer bear seeing animals with treatable illnesses being euthanized, he left that job after 16 years.
“Everything started in my last year with animal control,” Rosario said. “It got to me that animals were being euthanized. So many animals were put to sleep just for sickness that could be treated.”
Rosario estimates that New Beginning Animal Rescue has placed around 300 dogs into permanent homes over the past six years. There are currently 40 dogs and 25 cats up for adoption.
The non-profit organization receives no city funding and relies on private donations, two full-time workers and a team of dedicated volunteers. In the beginning, the shelter relied on steady income from rescue groups that boarded their cats and dogs with them. But five of those groups have since moved their animals to their own facilities or new locations.
Their current 5,000 square foot facility costs around $4,700 per month to rent, and their utility bills for water, light and gas have steadily increased. Rosario is searching for a new location with cheaper rent, but other spaces are too small or not within their budget. Rosario said their total expenses are roughly $10,000 per month.
Medical costs for the animals at New Beginning Animal Rescue over the past few months have also been higher than usual. Two months ago, a Chihuahua named Sophia had a heart murmur. The cost of a cardiogram, blood tests and medication reached almost $1,000. Two others dogs needed tumors removed. Their surgeries cost nearly $2,500 and $3,000, respectively.
Rosario said these unexpected medical expenses add up to three times more than last year’s costs of $7,000. All of their dogs and cats receive vaccinations, microchipping and spayed or neuter services prior to being adopted. A boarding service at the shelter costs $15-18 per day—compared to other kennels that charge upwards of $45 per day—but some pet owners still struggle to pay the fee.
“We do a lot in terms of helping people and animals,” Rosario said. “People that go through a special situation like losing their home, we are the ones that are there for them.”
Since starting a Go Fund Me account in May, the shelter has raised more than $20,000 of their $50,000 goal. New Beginning is also applying for grants and reaching out to local officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, for financial support, and their petition to the mayor has nearly 6,500 signatures.
The mayor announced in April that $10 million in capital funding of the 2017 budget will be used to create full-service shelters in the Bronx and Queens. Both boroughs rely on city-funded admission centers where animals can be dropped off; they are then relocated to a full-service animal center in another borough for boarding and medical attention, if necessary.
But it's unclear when these new animal shelters will open, and in the meantime, there are animals in need in the Bronx. A rally is scheduled for June 21st at Gracie Mansion, where New Beginning supporters will call on Mayor de Blasio and other elected officials to save the animals and the shelter.
Note: Frankie and Rudy, Simon, Forest, Jagger and Bear, who appear in the video, have been adopted.