Losing Prejudices Reunites Families

Reuniting Lost Pets With Their Families Represents a Huge Opportunity to Save Lives and Reduce Costs

Owners reclaiming their pets saves lives. Pets returned to owners do not get killed at shelters. Additionally, returning dogs to their owners boosts save rates since dogs who might fail shelter behavioral tests could safely live with the family these dogs already trust. Similarly, cats who might be killed for being incorrectly classified as feral could leave the shelter alive with their family. Thus, returning stray pets to their owners increases life saving.

Owners reclaiming their pets, particularly dogs, saves shelters significant costs. 80% of reclaimed stray dogs at Kansas City’s open admission no kill shelter occur within 5 days of arriving at the shelter. Similarly, 80% of lost dogs in California shelters reunite with their families within 4 days of entering the shelter. While animals getting adopted/transferred to rescue or killed may impact these quick turnaround times (i.e. the dog or cat may not get reclaimed by owner after a long time since they are out of the shelter), most shelters cannot hold animals for extended periods of time. As a result, shelters can most quickly get stray animals, which must be held 7 days in New Jersey for owner reclaim, out of shelters alive by finding the pets owners. Finding stray pets owners therefore saves significant costs associated with housing, adopting, or killing dogs or cats.

Many shelters return few lost pets to their owners. Currently, many of New Jersey’s large urban shelters only return approximately 20%-30% of stray dogs and around 2% of stray cats to owners. Nationally, owner reclaim rates are also similar. While some cats may be feral and have no owner, the percentage of stray owned cats returned to owners likely is still very low. Given about 2/3 and 80% of our dogs and cats are strays, respectively, at some of New Jersey’s large urban shelters, boosting owner reclaim rates will significantly increase life saving and reduce shelter costs.

Licensing is a Seductive Mirage

Licensing is often seen as the go to solution for owners to find their lost pets. Certainly, animal shelters will return licensed dogs wearing their tags to their owners. In fact, shelters have to do little work when a dog is licensed. Not surprisingly, shelters have strongly advocated pet licensing for a long time.

While I’m not aware of precise dog licensing rates for New Jersey municipalities, logic suggests dog licensing and microchipping rates should be higher in wealthier areas. For example, St. Huberts – Madison served the well to do towns of Bernardsville, Chatham Boro, and East Hanover in 2012 and returned virtually all stray dogs and nearly 80% of stray cats to their owners (all three towns require cat licenses). Similarly, Tyco Animal Control, which serves 22 wealthy North Jersey towns returned 88% of all stray dogs (Tyco Animal Control typically does not accept regular owner surrenders) to their owners in 2012. Despite killing more dogs than they adopted out, Tyco Animal Control still saved 96% of its impounded dogs in 2012 by virtue of its high return to owner rate. Thus, licensing and microchipping are wildly successful in saving lives and reducing shelter costs in wealthy areas.

Calgary’s successful licensing model has long been advocated to increase return to owner and live release rates. Licensing is a key component of Calgary’s “Responsible Pet Ownership” initiative which challenges the community to license their pets, spay/neuter, and be good pet owners in general. Calgary’s licensing program uses various incentives, such as discounts at retail stores, and no fee promotions for first time pet licenses. Calgary also imposes a steep $250 fine on owners of unlicensed pets. Like the wealthy communities in North Jersey above, Calgary has high licensing compliance rates and returned 84% and 47% of stray dogs and cats to their owners in 2012. As a result of these high reclaim rates, Calgary saved 95% and 80% of stray dogs and cats during this period. Unfortunately, we do not know Calgary’s total save rate since owner surrenders go to Calgary Humane Society, which kills for space, and does not report its live release rate. Additionally, licensing revenues fully fund animal control and sheltering for Calgary’s stray pets. As a result of Calgary Animal Services’ success, other cities are looking to emulate the Calgary model.

Calgary significant differs socioeconomically from poor areas of the United States with high kill rates. Calgary has had the highest per capita income of major Canadian cities going back to at least 1980. Additionally, the economy grew and diversified significantly since the 1980s. Calgary’s population also is among the most educated of all Canadian cities and over 2/3 of people over 25 have attended college. Additionally, 73% of Calgary household owned homes compared to only 23 percent in Newark, New Jersey. Calgary had a very high dog reclaim rate of around 45% in 1985 before the city aggressively pursued dog licensing efforts. In fact, the pace of dog reclaim rate increases was virtually indistinguishable from the mid-late 1980s (before aggressive dog licensing efforts began) to periods after. Also, dog reclaim rates just about reached today’s levels by the mid 1990s. The city’s cat reclaim rates remained flat from before cat licensing began in 2006 until now. Ironically, Bill Bruce, the man largely credited with the success of Calgary, joined the Calgary’s Animal Services in 2000 after the high dog and cat reclaim rates were achieved. Thus, high licensing rates in Calgary like the wealthy communities served by St. Huberts and Tyco Animal Control are more reflective of socioeconomic status than policy choices.

The Calgary licensing model should not be followed by large United States cities with high poverty rates. Poor people have an extremely difficult time caring for their pets and insisting they pay licensing fees will not help them nor will they likely comply. Simply put, asking poor pet owners in low income cities to solely fund animal control and sheltering is unfair and not likely to succeed. If poor pet owners must solely fund animal control and sheltering, governments should use a pet food/supplies tax to allow these pet owners to pay in small bits throughout the year instead of all in one shot. Also, some minority groups poor experiences with animal control in the past may lead to low licensing compliance rates as well. Additionally, like most animal control mandates strict enforcement of licensing may lead to more impounds and shelter killing. Finally, large resources devoted to an unlikely to succeed licensing endeavor may divert resources from other life saving initiatives.

Providing Outreach and Support in Poor Communities Will Increase Reclaim Rates

Communities can achieve the benefits of licensing by conducting strong outreach efforts. Licensing’s two primary benefits, other than raising funds, are identifying lost dogs and ensuring pets are vaccinated for rabies. Recently, geographic information systems have been used to target areas generating large numbers of shelter impounds. Additionally, groups such as Beyond Breed in Brooklyn, Spay/Neuter Kansas City, and Downtown Dog Rescue in Los Angeles go into these underserved communities and provide much needed support. If we were to step up such efforts and offer free microchips, identity tags, and rabies vaccines, we would achieve what licensing efforts seek. Literally, driving around these communities in a service van and going door to door could go a long way to getting identification on the community’s animals and increasing rabies vaccination rates. I’d suggest even offering free goodies, such as ice cream, to draw people in to start important conversations. Animal welfare groups could engage Petco Foundation and Petsmart Charities and request identity tags since their retail stores offer these tags at relatively affordable prices. Given people in these underserved communities rarely shop at Petco and Petsmart, the stores would not lose any significant revenues from such an endeavor. Thus, building a relationship within the community can start getting lost pets home.

Local governments and animal shelters must break down barriers to reuniting owners and lost pets. Unfortunately, many shelters presume stray animals are mostly “dumped on the streets” by their owners and do not make any real effort to get these animals home. However, Kathy Pobloski, Director of Lost Dogs Wisconsin and writer of Wisconsin Watchdog blog, provides the following reasons why owners fail to reclaim lost pets:

  1. The owner didn’t know the animal was at the shelter
  2. The owner can’t afford to reclaim the pet
  3. The owner has no transportation
  4. The owner has outstanding warrants or is illegal so doesn’t want to go to a government agency
  5. The owner has a language barrier
  6. The owner does not have internet access or the ability to effectively search for their dog

Most of these barriers can be torn down with effective outreach. For example, the same community programs used to tag and microchip dogs can also educate pet owners to immediately go to the local shelter.  Similarly, community outreach can inform pet owners that they can reclaim their pets and not be reported for potentially being an illegal or undocumented resident. Also, shelters can have volunteers distribute fliers widely in areas with high numbers of strays to inform people their lost pets may be at the shelter. Additionally, shelters should have people who speak foreign languages, allow volunteers to transport lost pets back to their owners, and be flexible on redemption fees if the owner cannot afford them. In fact, redemption fees can total hundreds and even thousands of dollars in some cases. Over the long term, shelters as well as animal advocates should lobby local governments to drop redemption fees altogether. Shelters are funded by taxes and people should not pay a ransom fee to return a family member. When a child is lost, we don’t make the parents pay a redemption fee. We shouldn’t do so either with people’s furry kids either. Finally, shelters can make pleas for animal advocates to form lost pet search groups, such as Lost Dogs Wisconsin and Lost Dogs Illinois, which have remarkable track records in reuniting pets to their families.

Animal control officers should make every effort to redeem pets they find in the field. Nevada Humane Society, which has a return to owner rate of nearly 60%, has its animal control officers check for tags and microchips in the field, examines lost pet reports, and asks people in the area if they know the stray animal’s owner.  By finding the owner in the field, the animal never even goes to the shelter reducing sheltering costs and stress to the animal.

The Wisconsin Watchdog blog posted a “how to” guide for shelters to increase their return to owner rates. Tips include immediately posting stray dog photos to shelter web sites and Facebook pages (Lost and Found Pets New Jersey is another great place for shelters in this state). Additionally, Wisconsin Watchdog recommends having specific volunteers check lost pet reports and help owners coming to shelters to find their lost pets. Also, they recommend giving guidance to owners on how to find their lost pet who is not at the shelter. Shelters should read and implement all the recommendations.

Nationally, animal welfare groups should use a single web site for posting and searching for stray pets coming into their facilities. These groups should heavily promote this web site so the general public posts their animals there to facilitate owners finding their lost dogs at shelters. In fact, one such web site already exists. Thus, national animal welfare groups and local shelters should strongly advocate the use of a specific web site by the public and shelters.

Strategically, these specific actions by shelters will boost reclaim rates in the short term. Over the long-term, greater numbers of pets with identity tags and microchips through community outreach efforts should increase reclaim rates to the very high levels seen in wealthy places. At the end of the day you have to work for positive changes and this means engaging and supporting your community. Unfortunately, their are no free lunches unless your shelter serves a wealthy community.

Disrespecting Your Shelter’s Hometown Leads You Down the Wrong Road

Associated Humane Societies – Newark’s Assistant Executive Director, who is the organization’s number 2 ranking person and representative in many media interviews, posted an insulting joke about Newark’s residents on his personal Facebook page recently. The photo is identical to the following image except “New Jersey” replaces “Ohio “and” “Newark” takes the place of “Michigan.”

Ohio Shadowy place

Additionally, several of Associated Humane Societies – Newark’s employees also commented about how much they liked the photo. Associated Humane Societies – Newark operates a large animal shelter in Newark and receives up to $632,000 in animal control contract fees from the city of Newark.

This behavior demonstrates a clear disrespect for Associated Humane Societies’ community. Telling your shelter’s hometown they live in a “shadowy place” and “you should never go there” is deeply insulting. If you lived in Newark, would you want to support this shelter? Perhaps, this attitude towards the city’s residents along with a past scathing investigation and poor performances in Office of Animal Welfare inspections in 2009 and 2011 led to the popular Cory Booker administration’s displeasure with Associated Humane Societies.

The remark sends the message to people outside of Newark to not visit the shelter since the facility is in a “shadowy place” that “you must never go” to. The “you must never go to Newark” message makes even less sense when you consider  Associated Humane Societies, to the best of my knowledge, does not adopt out dogs at its off-site events (i.e. you have to go back to the shelter in Newark to adopt the animal you meet outside of the shelter). As a result, the Assistant Executive Director of Associated Humane Societies’ Facebook post hurts the cause of his shelter’s animals.

Unfortunately, Associated Humane Societies’ attitude toward its hometown has an even more detrimental effect on shelter policy. In an article last year, the same Assistant Executive Director stated he wanted more stringent spay/neuter laws and backyard breeder bans to reduce Associated Humane Societies unacceptably high kill rates. KC Dog Blog, which is written by Kansas City’s no kill open admission shelter’s Board President, clearly demonstrates how Kansas City’s pit bull mandatory spay/neuter policy increased impounds and kill rates. Additionally, KC Dog Blog also documents most large animal welfare organizations, such as the ASPCA, Best Friends, Humane Society of the United States (via the California Sheltering White Paper), No Kill Advocacy Center and the American Veterinary Medical Association oppose mandatory spay/neuter laws. Such laws increase impounds and shelter killing and also waste limited resources which could be used more productively. The main barrier to spay/neuter is cost for poor folks and mandatory spay/neuter laws with their punitive fines simply exacerbate the problem. Similarly, breeding bans, which sound great, are also ineffective and drain limited resources as evidenced by Long Beach, California’s 30 year breeding ban’s failed efforts at achieving a no kill community.

The “irresponsible public” argument and resulting attitude communicated by Associated Humane Societies represents a huge obstacle to creating a no kill community. While the shelter’s personnel may have negative experiences with the public, those interactions are not representative of the entire population. Newark most likely is more responsible than the average American community. Associated Humane Societies – Newark took in approximately 8 dogs and cats per 1000 residents in its service area during 2012. Unfortunately, we do not know what the city of Newark’s per capita intake rate is since Associated Humane Societies impounds dogs and cats from numerous other communities. However, the nearby urban communities of Elizabeth, Paterson plus surrounding towns and Jersey City – Hoboken took in approximately 7 dogs and cats per 1000 people. Nationally, Maddie’s Fund states the average community impounds 14.5 dogs and cats per 1000 people. Thus, Newark likely impounds around half the number of animals as the average American community on a per capita basis. Therefore, “shadowy” Newark is likely more responsible than many less “shadowy” places.

Associated Humane Societies – Newark’s animals would benefit greatly from a significant change in attitude. While Associated Humane Societies prefers to blame the not so irresponsible public for killing shelter animals, the blame lands squarely with the shelter. Associated Humane Societies – Newark needs to stop fighting successful no kill policies and enthusiastically implement these programs to quickly move animals from the shelter into loving homes. Personally, I’d suggest following KC Pet Project’s model which made Kansas City a no kill community 18 months after taking over the shelter. As recently as 2008, this shelter killed more than 60% of its impounded animals. However, KC Pet Project now saves roughly 90% of its animals despite taking in around twice as many dogs and cats in total and per capita as Associated Humane Societies – Newark.  KC Pet Project accomplished this without Associated Humane Societies’ vast financial resources and with an undersized and outdated primary shelter having only one third of the recommended capacity.

Associated Humane Societies should also implement targeted spay/neuter and pet owner support programs to help struggling pet owners in areas with higher impound rates. For example, the ASPCA’s Operation Pit in New York City and Monmouth County SPCA’s Pittie Project programs offer free spay/neuter, vaccinations and microchips to pit bulls. Spay & Neuter Kansas City provides another great example of not only substantive programs, but a helpful and nonjudgmental attitude towards the people requiring help. This organization literally goes door to door in some of the poorest neighborhoods to help struggling pet owners. As a result of these programs and relationship with the community, Spay & Neuter Kansas City assisted over 15,000 people with spay/neuter surgeries, veterinary services, and pet outreach programs in 2013.

Let’s drop the “shadowy” jokes about people and get onto helping folks and their animals. That is how you save lives!

Jersey Animal Coalition Debacle Reveals Deep Rifts With The Community

The Office of Animal Welfare’s and South Orange Board of Health’s Jersey Animal Coaltion inspection report and related NJ SPCA investigation into possible animal cruelty unleashed a tremendous reaction from the local community. Maplewood Online has a message board which discusses local news and events. While the posters are anonymous and content cannot be verified, the sheer volume and passion of responses is quite telling in my opinion.  The negative reactions are also consistent with Jersey Animal Coalition’s Google Reviews. Clearly, many people had some very poor experiences with the shelter’s management.

Jersey Animal Coalition’s relationship with the town of Maplewood also has been rocky. Under Jersey Animal Coalition’s lease with South Orange, Jersey Animal Coalition only pays $1 to rent the facility in exchange for taking in all stray “house pets” brought in by South Orange’s and Maplewood’s animal control officers. “House pets” are defined as “cats, dogs and similar domesticated animals normally kept in the home.” Jersey Animal Coalition contends feral cats are not their obligation while Maplewood believes Jersey Animal Coalition must take in feral cats. Maplewood compromised and agreed to not bring in feral cats which couldn’t be safely handled. Under the arrangement, Jersey Animal Coalition agreed to take feral kittens since such kittens could be socialized and eventually adopted. However, in August, 2012, Jersey Animal Coalition changed course and refused to take these kittens in. In that same month, Maplewood instituted a stray cat feeding ban and a very regressive feral cat policy.

Jersey Animal Coalition’s feral cat policy is inconsistent with the no kill equation. Community involvement and trap, neuter release are two key no kill equation programs. While not accepting feral cats is preferable to impounding and killing them, the shelter should passionately fight to implement trap, neuter release (“TNR”) programs. Personally, I am concerned about the fate of feral cats under Jersey Animal Coalition’s policy. For example, do the towns animal control officers take feral cats who are injured, sick or subject to residents complaints to get killed elsewhere?  If TNR programs are illegal, the shelter should use barn cat programs to send feral cats to live outdoors as a substitute to trap, neuter, release. Based on Jersey Animal’s Coalition’s service area’s approximate population of 40,000 people and nearby Montclair and Union animal shelter’s per capita cat intake rates, I estimate Jersey Animal Coalition should take in approximately 140 cats per year. However, Jersey Animal Coalition’s 2012 “Shelter/Pound Annual Report” submitted to the New Jersey Department of Health only reported 40 cats impounded (given the shelter’s lack of impound records I’m not sure how they even came up with this number). If we assume the 100 cat difference between expected and actual impounds are feral cats, then Jersey Animal Coalition should be able to place this small number through a barn cat program. In reality, the number of feral cats needing placement would be smaller since some of those 100 cats would be kittens who could be socialized and adopted. Thus, Jersey Animal Coalition could have solved the feral cat problem if it simply implemented a barn cat program like other successful no kill communities.

Luckily, Maplewood may have had a change of heart. In February, 2014 Maplewood’s Township Committee voted unanimously for its Health Officer to work with a TNR group to develop a course of action. Unfortunately, Jersey Animal Coalition’s management does not appear to have a significant role in this effort. Additionally, South Orange apparently still has a regressive feral cat policy.

Jersey Animal Coalition’s handling of the feral cat issue also demonstrates poor management of the relationship with the municipalities. If Jersey Animal Coalition did not want to impound feral cats, then the organization should have clearly spelled that out in the lease. The towns health departments have a keen interest in managing feral cats. For example, the towns deal with residents complaining about large colonies of intact animals. Jersey Animal Coalition basically said “you are on your own” after signing the lease and accepting approximately $285,000 of funding to help build the shelter along with paying virtually no rent for a 5,400 square foot facility on a sizable property. To add further insult to injury, the shelter transported hundreds of dogs, most of which were out of state puppies, each year into the shelter per their “Shelter/Pound Annual Reports” while refusing to accept many of their own community’s cats.  As a result, the two towns would have every right to hold some ill will towards shelter management.

Most disturbingly Jersey Animal Coalition’s poor performance apparently decreased the community’s and the Maplewood Health Department’s support for no kill shelters. On Maplewood Online, several people pointed to Jersey Animal Coalition’s inspection report as proof no kill open admission shelters do not work.  Similarly,  Maplewood’s Health Department blamed Jersey Animal Coalition’s no kill policy for overcrowding at the shelter. Unfortunately, Jersey Animal Coalition caused confusion on what no kill is by asserting it is a “100% no kill shelter.” No kill simply means no killing and returns euthanasia to its true definition. No kill shelters do euthanize about 1%-10% of impounded animals for severe medical or behavioral reasons.  Apparently, Jersey Animal Coalition is confusing no euthanasia with no killing and a no kill shelter with a sanctuary. Proper sanctuaries provide refuge for unadoptable animals and offer large outdoor areas for the animals to enjoy. On the other hand, Jersey Animal Coalition’s long term residents spend years living in inadequate sized kennels with no documentation showing legally mandated exercise is provided. Thus, the community has every right to think no kill shelters are a bad thing if Jersey Animal Coalition is the only no kill shelter they know.

Jersey Animal Coalition’s debacle provides an important lesson to no kill advocates. We no longer can stand by quietly when shelters describing themselves as no kill fail to deliver. In my opinion, Jersey Animal Coalition did not properly implement all 11 no kill equation programs. No kill advocates need to develop some sort of certification program, such as peer review in the accounting and legal professions. Currently, the Out the Front Door Blog is the closest thing we have to this. Luckily, Jersey Animal Coalition never made it to the listing of no kill communities. Also, no kill advocates must push for frequent high quality inspections, such as those done by New Jersey’s Office of Animal Welfare. Unfortunately, shelters need more regulation and even self-described no kill shelters cannot always be trusted to do the right thing.

Office of Animal Welfare Inspection Report Reveals Terrible Problems at Jersey Animal Coalition

On March 12, the New Jersey Department of Health’s Office of Animal Welfare and South Orange’s Board of Health inspected Jersey Animal Coalition, a self proclaimed “100% no kill shelter”, for compliance with New Jersey Animal Shelter Regulations. The South Orange Board of Health gave the shelter an “Unsatisfactory” rating resulting in the shelter’s closure “until further notice.” The 10 page inspection report, which is public information, reported numerous and frankly shocking violations of these regulations. Some of the most noteworthy violations are listed at the bottom of this blog post.

Most disturbingly, some problems existed nearly a decade ago when Jersey Animal Coalition first opened its shelter. Inspection reports from 2005-2007 noted poor cleaning, no appropriate isolation areas for sick animals, lack of proper records on animals, and no documentation of routine medical exams. In subsequent years, South Orange’s Animal Control Officer appeared to take over inspections and gave the shelter a satisfactory rating. However, 2013 inspection reports again found violations of New Jersey shelter regulations, which included improper isolation of sick animals.

While the shelter may have cleaned up its act during this time, I find it hard to believe the same types of problems would get fixed and then suddenly reappear. First, Office of Animal Welfare Office inspectors may provide higher quality inspections than local officials. In fact, the Office of Animal Welfare Office’s mission statement includes educating animal control officers on New Jersey shelter regulations. Second, the shelter’s president and manager were in charge during these early years and during this latest inspection. Additionally, Jersey Animal Coalition’s “Shelter/Pound Annual Reports” submitted to the Office of Animal Welfare showed the shelter had 4 different veterinarians in charge of their disease control program each year from 2005 through 2009. Additionally, the March 12, 2014 shelter report noted the shelter veterinarian’s annual certification of Jersey Animal Coalition’s disease control program posted at the facility was from December 3, 2009. After the March 12 state inspection, the shelter apparently hired a new veterinarian. Why have veterinarians quit working with Jersey Animal Coalition or did the shelter change veterinarians so frequently? In my opinion, that is a huge red flag. Thus, the lack of Office Animal Welfare inspections, the same people running the shelter, and frequent changing of shelter veterinarians makes me question the quality of the town’s inspections from 2008-2013.

Volunteers are currently not allowed to help run the shelter. In an email to volunteers, the shelter claimed it was not their decision. However, in a subsequent email to volunteers the shelter stated volunteers would be allowed back only after completing a mandatory training with the new shelter veterinarian. The shelter then cancelled the orientation the very next day. While I do not know what the true facts are, I am somewhat skeptical of the shelter’s statements. In the March 12 inspection report, a shelter employee told the inspector bedding in the Animal Control Officer drop off room was brought in by owners bringing dogs in for surgery that day and was not from the laundry area exposed to ringworm. However, the owners of the dogs denied bringing in the bedding when questioned by the inspector. Additionally, the shelter’s web page states it is closed for 3 cases of ringworm, but does not mention any of the other violations laid out in the 10 page inspection report. As a result, I’m skeptical of the shelter’s statements at this point.

Whatever the reason behind volunteers not helping at the shelter, I am very concerned about the animals well being. The shelter’s web site states the shelter “has a small paid staff, and a large corps of dedicated volunteers.” If the shelter provided such poor care as documented in the March 12 inspection report with the help of a “large dedicated corps of volunteers”, how will it provide proper care now without all that help? Based on the National Animal Control Officer Associations recommendations, Jersey Animal Coalition’s estimated 80 animals would require around 7 staff each day to properly clean facilities and feed animals. Keep in mind a facility, such as Jersey Animal Coalition, would likely require even more staff to fix all these major issues and provide appropriate enrichment for its animals. Many animals have spent years living in this shelter and developed medical or behavioral issues requiring significant care. I have yet to see any evidence the shelter is staffed at appropriate levels or such staff is properly trained.

The real question is what happens now. Does the town of South Orange permanently revoke Jersey Animal Coalition’s shelter license? If so, what will happen to the animals? Frankly, the people running this shelter should not be allowed to stay in charge based on the egregiously poor care provided to the animals documented in this inspection report. Honestly, the NJ SPCA should be involved and one has to question where they were over the last decade? Hopefully, long overdue actions finally take place.

No kill shelters must master the very basics of sheltering before aspiring to reach a much higher standard. Frankly, the shelter violations in this inspection report show an inability to conduct basic animal sheltering operations. When a shelter cannot properly clean, keep records, hire a veterinarian, have a disease control program in place, provide basic veterinary care and enrichment, and prevent intact animals of both sexes from being kept together, the idea of becoming “a 100% no kill shelter” is preposterous.  Clearly, Jersey Animal Coalition did not comprehensively adopt the no kill equation based on the violations in this report. The no kill movement needs to call out shelters who are not living up to our standards, both kill and no kill. As a result, we all need to condemn the “leadership” of this shelter and demand change.

Key findings in inspection reports:

  • “There was no evidence available at the time of this inspection which indicated that sick, diseased, injured or lame animals were provided with at least prompt basic veterinary care to alleviate pain and suffering. There was a dog in the main dog kennel that appeared to be emaciated with a body condition score between 1 and 2. The ribs were clearly distinguishable from a distance of approximately 8 feet away in low light. and the ridges of the spinal column were significantly prominent. There were no veterinary treatment records available to indicate that this dog had been evaluated by a veterinarian and was receiving any type of treatment and there was no documentation available to indicate that this dog was eating a sufficient amount or an appropriate quality offend despite its emaciated appearance. Another dog that was housed in this same bank of cages had difficulty rising to a standing position. This dog appeared to be the overweight. There was no documentation available to indicate that this dog, was currently receiving any medication or other veterinary care to alleviate pain.”
  • “There was no evidence that a program to address the physical as well as psychological well-being of animals was in place at the facility at the time of this inspection.”
  • Animals displaying signs of stress were not provided with relief pursuant to a disease control program that was required to be established and maintained by a supervising veterinarian. The emaciated dog described above was displaying behavior consistent with severe psychological stress. This dog was cowering in the corner, had a crouched body position and hunched back with very slow and deliberate movements, and was averting his gaze with a tense facial expression. Other dogs were displaying signs of aggression, which included lunging at the door of the enclosure, tight lipped growling and low toned fierce barking, raised lips and presentation of teeth in combination with an intense stare.
  • The outdoor exercise enclosure contained an exorbitant accumulation of feces which had not been scooped. cleaned or disinfected for an indeterminate number of days or weeks. Snow had not been removed from this outdoor enclosure and the dogs had been permitted to defecate and urinate in this snow covered area. The snow had started to melt and the feces had begun to deteriorate resulting in a cesspool that collected in the middle of the enclosure and up to the concrete steps in the back of the building.
  • “Animals showing signs of contagious illness were not removed from rooms containing  healthy animals and housed in a separate isolation room. Cats with signs of ringworm were housed in the laundry room and a black cat in the cat room exhibited signs of a severe skin condition consistent with ringworm infection, including hair loss throughout the entire body and scabbing, which was more severe on the cat’s back above the base of the tail. There was also a grey cat in this room that displayed signs of a mild respiratory condition with sneezing  and clear nasal discharge. A biack and white cat and a tabby cat in this room also had signs of slight nasal discharge. There were no records available to indicate that these cats were seen by a vetarínarian and that treatment had been prescribed and administered.”
  • The dogs in these enclosures were moved to the opposite enclosure one at a time, rather than all the dogs in that bank of cages
    at the same time, therefore the dogs in the adjacent and lower enclosures were not protected from the splash back and run off from the individual enclosure that was being hosed down. Feces were not removed from the enclosures being sprayed with a hose which resulted in the particles of fecal matter and waste water to be spread through the air into adjacent enclosures into the
    main walkway, and onto the inspector who was standing approximately 7 to 8 feet away.
  • “There was no evidence that a disease control and adequate health care program was established or maintained under the supervision of a doctor of veterinary medicine.”
  • “There was an accumulation of dog feces in various stages of decomposition located in the parking area, in from of the garage bay doors, in the driveway, along the sidewalks, on the concrete apron at the front entrance to the building and throughout the outside grounds of the facility. Most of the feces in these public access areas had been stepped in by both dogs and pedestrians.”
  • There was an unlocked cabinet in the main center court of the hallway that contained various medical supplies, including needles, syringes, and IV sets. that remained unmonitored throughout this inspection and was easily  accessible to any employee, volunteer or visitor that entered the facility.:
  • “There were 4 crates in the education room that each housed one of 4 large dogs and a sign in this room indicated that these were aggressive dogs. These crates were constructed of insufficient gauge wire to provide safe containment of the animals; the crates wobbled and started to tip when the dogs jumped on the sides of the enclosures; there were no safety clips or other devices to prevent injury to the animals if they push their head or limbs through the space where the panels join”
  • “The upper level of the dog enclosures located in the main dog kennel room were in need of repair. The flooring panels in these kennels flex upon the movement of the dogs and therefore some of the sealant or other material that is used to prevent water, urine and other contaminants  from leaking into the enclosure below had become loose or otherwise dislodged.”
  • “An electric air blower dryer was placed on the floor in front of a cage during the cleaning process, but it did not
    sufficiently dry the enclosure at the time of this inspection. Several dogs showed signs of  irritation, including redness of the skin and discoloration of the fur on their paws, between their toes and the appearance of red irritated skin on their abdomen and muzzle.”
  • “The dry erase board in the left cat room that listed the name of each cat with its description indicated that female cats that had not been spayed were housed in the same free roaming cat room with sexually intact male cats.”
  • “A bowl of uneaten dry food was removed from a dog enclosure and placed on a grey cart. Inspectors were unable to determine which enclosure this bowl of food came from and therefore, were unable to ascertain which dog had not eaten that day. Food was not replaced in any of the dog enclosures throughout thc remainder of the day during this inspection.”
  • “Bags of food in the outdoor shed were stored on the floor which was wet at the time of this inspection and the food was not protected from contamination”
  • “Inspectors were unable to determine the amount of food each animal was given on a daily basis: there were no feeding instructions or other documentation available at the time of this inspection. At least 2 dogs appeared to be overweight and one dog appeared to be severely emaciated. There were no records available to determine if these conditions were caused by excess or lack food or a medical condition.”
  • “Dogs were not given a sufficient amount of water in their bowls to maintain the availability of water at all times. Inspectors were told that the water was being restricted so the dogs would not spill it and make a mess”
  • “These prescription medications were prescribed to owned animals that were not present at the facility. There were also medications in various rooms throughout the facility that  did not have any labels on the containers indicating what medications were contained in the bottles or daily pill dispensers.”
  • “There were no intake and disposition records available to inspectors at the time of this inspection. For animals that were received or impounded and/or adopted. euthanized or otherwise transferred.”
  • “The form which was required to be signed annually by the supervising veterinarian indicating that a disease control and health care program was in effect at the facility had expired. A form posted at the facility was signed by Dr. Santiago on 12/3/09.”
  • “Importation certificates were not available at the time of this inspection for the mother pit bull type dog and her 10 puppies that were being housed in a crate located in the office at the facility at the time of this inspection. There were Ialso no importation certificates available for other dogs that had been imported into New Jersey from other states and which were, or had been housed at the facility.”
  • “Rabies vaccination certificates were not being filled out properly”