New operator sought for animal shelter

City’s contract with Rescue Ink is not renewed


The city is searching for a new operator for the Long Beach Animal Shelter, after the city said it did not renew its contract with the Queens-based animal-rescue organization Rescue Ink last October.

In January, the city issued a request for proposals for a new organization to run the shelter. City spokesman Gordon Tepper said that three proposals were submitted, and that the city would be conducting interviews in the coming weeks. The city’s Police Department has been operating the shelter.

“We are so appreciative of the volunteers who have worked so hard and have donated so much of their valuable time, assisting the city with running the shelter because of their love for the animals,” said City Councilwoman Eileen Goggin.

Tepper said that the city chose not to continue working with Rescue Ink because it was “not satisfied with the job they did.” He added that the city has asked its corporation counsel to send the organization a cease-and-desist letter, ordering Rescue Ink to remove information on its website that says it is still involved with the animal shelter.

The organization’s founder, Joe “Panz” Panzarella, however, told a different story, saying that Rescue Ink declined to renew the contract with the city because the annual “shoestring” budget of $15,000 the city provided to run the shelter made it “impossible” to sustain the operation, saying that it cost between $150,000 and $200,000 per year to run the shelter. Panzarella said that Rescue Ink did not get the support it needed from the city.

“We killed ourselves trying to run it,” Panzarella said of the shelter. “We did whatever we could. There’s no support for it; we couldn’t afford it. We decided not to renew the contract.”

When the contract was first awarded to Rescue Ink in 2011, some residents questioned how the group could run the facility on a $15,000 budget. However, Rescue Ink members said that as a nonprofit, it would rely heavily on donations to cover the costs of running the shelter. Long Beach renewed its contract with Rescue Ink in 2012.

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