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Threat Of Closing Shelter Attracts Animal Lovers To Greenburgh Town Meeting

Pets Alive operates a "no-kill" shelter on Warehouse Lane in Elmsford, but has announced its closing due to building disrepair and financial problems. Greenburgh town officials and the SPCA of Westchester are discussing ways to save the shelter.
Pets Alive operates a "no-kill" shelter on Warehouse Lane in Elmsford, but has announced its closing due to building disrepair and financial problems. Greenburgh town officials and the SPCA of Westchester are discussing ways to save the shelter. Photo Credit: Pets Alive
A total of 80 cats or kittens, and about 80 dogs will have to be adopted, or moved to Pets Alive headquarters in Orange County this fall if the  animal sanctuary closes its shelter in Elmsford as announced on Saturday.
A total of 80 cats or kittens, and about 80 dogs will have to be adopted, or moved to Pets Alive headquarters in Orange County this fall if the animal sanctuary closes its shelter in Elmsford as announced on Saturday. Photo Credit: File photo

This story has been updated.

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Greenburgh Town Hall was packed on Wednesday night for an emergency meeting to save Pets Alive Westchester -- commonly known as the Elmsford animal shelter.

The former Elmsford Animal Shelter was donated to Pets Alive for $10. On Saturday, Pets Alive officials announced plans to close the "no-kill" facility in 60 to 90 days due to building disrepair and declining revenue. .Fourteen people are employed by the shelter, which cares for 80 cats or kittens and about 80 dogs.

Greenburgh Town Attorney Tim Lewis and Councilman Francis Sheehan, who has adopted pets from the shelter at 100 Warehouse Lane, discovered a deed restriction stating that “the grantee, its successors and assigns shall use the said premises solely and exclusively for park, recreational, or general municipal purposes or as an animal shelter in perpetuity.”

As a result, Pets Alive - - which is based in Middletown, N.Y. -- will not be able to sell the property to a commercial developer, according to Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner.

Feiner that that he, Sheehan and Lewis "had a very constructive meeting with the leadership of Pets Alive" on Thursday. "Our goal is to work cooperatively to keep the no kill animal shelter open,'' Feiner said.

Pets Alive is holding a board meeting early next week and agreed to meet again on July 30 with Town of Greenburgh officials. "We discussed the deed restriction on the property which limits development potential,'' Feiner said.

Earlier this week, Feiner said he was contacted by Shannon Laukhuf, the executive director of the SPCA of Westchester, a no-kill shelter based in Briarcliff Manor.

"If an opportunity exists, the SPCA might possibly be in a position to keep the shelter operating whether that means taking over the operations entirely or simply renting a portion of that building as an extension of our own very busy and vibrant operations,'' Laukhuf told Feiner in an email.

Many volunteers from the Elmsford animal shelter and other representatives of Pets Alive attended Wednesday's meeting at Town Hall. Shelter supporters were given no chance to help Pets Alive "avoid making this horrible decision to close down the shelter," Feiner said.

As a former county legislator, Feiner was heavily involved during the late 1980s and early 1990s in trying to save the former Elmsford Animal Shelter and the effort to build the current shelter.

"This shelter reminds me of David versus Goliath,'' Feiner said. "Many have tried to shut down the shelter over the years. But, thanks to the hard working, passionate and dedicated volunteers, no one has succeeded so far."

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