St. Mary's Park

The Daily Plant : Monday, July 26, 2004


Bright-eyed and bushy tailed, they started arriving at 4:45 a.m. First came Peaches, a pit bull, with her owner, whose boss had given him the morning off of work for this momentous occasion. Peaches was just the first of the 135 cats and dogs to take part in the very first Big Fix program. Held at St. Mary’s Recreation Center in the Bronx, the July 18 event offered free spaying and neutering to pets whose owners are on public assistance.

The Big Fix, which is co-sponsored by the Parks & Recreation’s Urban Park Rangers, Animal Care and Control, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), is a program that offers free spaying or neutering for up to 200 animals in a day. The privately funded program is part of an effort to bring free or low-cost spaying and neutering to the people and animals who need it the most. The operation, which would normally cost $200, is performed by veterinarians using resources provided by Animal Care and Control and the ASPCA.

"St. Mary’s Recreation Center was the perfect choice for the event," remarked Urban Park Ranger Director Sara Hobel. The center hosted one of the first park adoption events, and recreation workers were on hand to help things run smoothly. The 117 percent increase in Animal Care and Control’s adoption rate over the past few months has much to do with adoption events held at parks and park facilities. Even without an animal shelter in the Bronx, Animal Care and Control strives to bring adoption events, and now spaying and neutering, to the borough in locations that are convenient to pet owners.

Pets and their owners are some of the biggest users of parks. Dog runs and open spaces provide the perfect places for both people and animals to find refuge from crowded urban life. But, parks also often become home to the city’s thousands of strays. Urban Park Rangers who find these animals bring them to Animal Care and Control. Many of the approximately 52,000 animals rescued a year find their way to happy homes through adoption events. On the same day as the Big Fix, 10 dogs and cats were adopted at an event in Central Park.

"Spaying and neutering are essential to creating more humane living conditions for dogs and cats and to reducing the number of unwanted stray animals that struggle to survive on our streets, in our empty lots, and in our parks," said Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, a member of the Board of Animal Care and Control. "Programs like the Big Fix that encourage responsible pet-ownership are a very big help." Through reaching out to the pet owners who can not afford to spay and neuter pets on their own, the Big Fix is targeting the source of the problem and offering a practical solution.

The Big Fix, though new to New York, is not a new program. The original program, began in Maricopa County, Arizona, has grown to performing up to 450 operations a day. The City’s program has the potential to grow to or even surpass that size in the future, and, judging by the response to the first Big Fix, it will.

"Some of the pet owners showed up just holding their cats," Hobel said. "They didn’t have boxes to carry them in, but they were just so excited about the program." The Big Fix turned out a diverse group of pet owners, all of them enthusiastic. One stray cat even got to take part as it wandered over to one of the workers practically begging to join in the fun. Not only did the cat get a free operation, but she will also find a new home through Animal Care and Control’s adoption program.

There are many advantages to fixing pets. In addition to curbing animal overpopulation and stray problems, spaying and neutering is good for the animals. It removes risk of testicular or uterine cancer and prevents unwanted behaviors, like marking territory or roaming in heat, that are related to hormonal fluctuations.

To find out more about Animal Care and Control’s adoption programs, the Big Fix, and volunteer opportunities, check out their website at or call 311. 

Written by Rebecca Silverstein


Friday’s Plant mistakenly said that Warrie Price helped raise more than $4.1 million to rebuild The Battery’s waterfront. The actual figure is $41 million.


"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most
intelligent, but the one most responsive to change."

Charles Darwin

Directions to St. Mary's Park

Know Before You Go

There are currently 3 service interruptions affecting access within this park.

Dog-friendly AreasSt. Mary's Dog Run

As a part of our Anchor Parks initiative, reconstruction of the dog run and ballfield in the southeast corner of St. Mary's Park is now underway. Follow this project on the Parks Capital Tracker for updates.

Anticipated Completion: Spring 2020

Recreation CentersSt. Mary’s Recreation Center

New York City’s recreation centers and indoor pools remain closed to the general public until further notice to provide COVID-19 related services as well as free childcare options for children who are scheduled for blended learning. To learn more or to apply for the childcare program, please visit the New York City Department of Education’s Learning Bridges program page.

Once we reopen, NYC Parks will extend all existing recreation center memberships to cover the length of time we are closed to the general public.

ParkSt. Mary's Park

As a part of our Anchor Parks initiative, reconstruction of the southern section of St. Mary's Park is now underway. This project includes reconstruction of the park’s pathways, passive central area, amphitheater and west comfort station. Follow this project on the Parks Capital Tracker for updates.

Anticipated Completion: Fall 2021

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