Last month, I wrote a blog about an August 22, 2017 joint New Jersey Department of Health and Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness inspection report on Associated Humane Societies-Newark. Subsequently, I wrote another blog about AHS-Newark claiming how it fixed many problems.
On September 26, 2017, the New Jersey Department of Health and Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness inspected AHS-Newark again and issued another report. You can read this limited scope follow-up inspection report here and the related photos here. Did AHS-Newark fix all of its problems? Should the shelter be able to operate?
Serious Violations Continue to Exist
While the inspection reported noted AHS-Newark corrected several violations, many of these were relatively simple fixes. However, the shelter continued to break state law to such an extent that the authorities would not give AHS-Newark a license to operate:
9/26/17: Facility remains in noncompliance and a license for the current year cannot be issued.
Feral Cats Treated Inhumanely
The August 22, 2017 inspection report found AHS-Newark did not provide stress relief to feral cats housed in a room. Over one month later, AHS-Newark continued to not provide any stress relief to these cats according to the inspectors. The new inspection report noted the following:
- AHS-Newark did not provide enough litter receptacles
- AHS-Newark housed too many cats in the room to fit such litter receptacles
- AHS-Newark only had two litter receptacles and they were effectively unusable by most of the cats. One litter receptacle had a cat sleeping in it and the other litter receptacle tipped over.
- AHS-Newark did not provide the cats access to things to climb, resting benches or hiding boxes resulting in the cats bunching up against each other on the floor
- AHS-Newark housed these animals in severely overcrowded conditions that are “a detriment to the health, safety and welfare of the cats”
- AHS-Newark must immediately provide alternative housing areas to the cats in this enclosure
9/26/17: Not corrected. Cats housed in the feral cat enclosure were severely overcrowded and not provided with any type of stress relief. There were at least twenty cats in this small enclosure. These cats were said to be aggressive; animals exhibiting signs of aggression are required to be housed individually in accordance with N.J.A.C. 1.6. There was an insufficient number of litter receptacles for the number of cats housed in these enclosures; there was insufficient floor space to hold litter receptacles due to the number of cats housed in the enclosure, and of the two litter receptacles provided in this enclosure, one contained a cat that was sleeping and the other had been tipped over. The cats housed in this enclosure were not provided with access to vertical space, resting benches, or hiding boxes and were forced to stay on the floor of the enclosure bunched up one against the other. This severity of overcrowding is a detriment to the health, safety and welfare of the cats housed in this enclosure. The facility management will be required to provide alternative housing areas for the cats in this enclosure. This requires immediate correction.
To make matters worse, AHS-Newark continued to leave this enclosure’s glass or plexiglass window so filthy that people could not see inside.
9/26/17: Partially corrected. The cardboard and newspapers had been removed but the glass or plexiglass was not cleaned sufficiently to easily view the cats in these enclosures.
In fact, AHS-Newark did not clean this plexiglass at all and it contained “an accumulation of feces, dirt, hair and other debris.”
The plexiglass in the feral cat enclosure was not being cleaned and contained an accumulation of feces, dirt, hair and other debris.
Additionally, AHS-Newark had exposed nails in the feral cat room that could injure the animals. Also, the shelter still had not replaced broken dog beds that exposed dogs to potential injuries.
9/26/17: Not corrected. New raised beds were said to have been purchased and broken beds will be replaced. The feral cat enclosure contained two wooden and fiberboard cat furniture pieces. One of these pieces was broken and a board on the front panel had become loose and small nails were exposed. Please see 1.8 and 1.9 for additional continued deficiencies in the feral cat enclosures.
While AHS-Newark removed carpeted cat trees that “contained an accumulation of hair and dried feces or vomit”, the feral cat room continued to have its window ledges, resting benches and walls in disrepair. According to the August 22, 2017 inspection report, such conditions prevented employees from properly cleaning and disinfecting these areas.
9/26/17: Partially corrected, carpeted items removed; old caulk and broken edging needs to be removed and replaced at window ledges, resting benches and walls.
Animals Likely to Get Sick
While the inspectors noted AHS-Newark actually cleaned some areas of the facility, they still found filth in many places. Also, AHS-Newark apparently threw junk, including animal cages, on its roof and it blew off into a neighboring yard. Imagine if someone was hit by one of these falling cages?
9/26/17: Partially corrected, cleaning and disinfecting plan currently under review by the NJDOH. Many areas throughout the facility had been cleaned, but the corners and areas of the floors near the walls, and shelves and other areas, around pipes, and stairs contained dirt, hair and debris that had not been thoroughly cleaned. There were several animal cages and cage parts, and numerous HVAC filters and other debris that were found in the neighboring yard area. This debris was said to have blown off the roof. No items shall be stored on the roof of the facility.
The shelter’s cleaning procedures were inadequate yet again. AHS-Newark said it used Accel disinfectant, but had it in a container labeled with “DAWN” detergent. Additionally, the shelter threw a feces filled rabbit cage and another crate tray on the building’s roof. The inspector noted the feces spilled onto the roof. Since AHS-Newark claimed debris blew off their roof in the past, people and animals outside potentially could have crap literally rain down on them.
9/26/17: Partially corrected, cleaning and disinfecting plan currently under review by the NJDOH. The plexiglass in the feral cat enclosure was not being cleaned and contained an accumulation of feces, dirt, hair and other debris. A bucket that had the word DAWN written on the side in black permanent marker was said to contain Accel disinfectant and the adjacent bucket contained the detergent. A dirty rabbit cage (a black wire crate with a damaged removable tray) and another crate tray that contained an accumulation of feces, hay and debris were found on the roof of the facility. Some of these feces had spilled out onto the roof. The roof shall not be used to clean or store any items used at the facility.
AHS-Newark apparently did a poor job in fixing its animal enclosures. According to the inspection report, the shelter patched some holes and cracks. However, the inspectors stated AHS-Newark needed to remove and replace the concrete flooring due to it falling into such disrepair. Therefore, the shelter could not properly clean and disinfect these parts of the animal enclosures.
Several holes and cracks had been patched, but these concrete patches were not smoothed and leveled with an appropriate trowel and were left to harden with numerous folds and indentations that are unable to be cleaned and disinfected. The concrete flooring was being patched in various areas, but the flooring that is in severe disrepair will need to be removed and replaced. The laminated fiberboard cat cages in the small dog and cat room were missing pieces of laminate and needed repair. The facility management will be required to provide a detailed plan of correction for 1.3. (a) with an estimated timeline for completion.
The August 22, 2017 inspection report documented interior surfaces of the main dog kennel area and throughout the facility were in severe disrepair. Peeling paint and broken concrete prevented employees from being able to properly clean and disinfect these areas. Similarly, the food storage area had inadequately fixed holes in the walls at the floor that also prevented staff from cleaning and disinfecting these areas.
Over one month later, AHS-Newark failed to fix these issues.
9/26/17: Not corrected. The facility management will be required to provide a detailed plan of correction with an estimated timeline for completion.
Despite AHS-Newark finally starting to store food properly, it still had spilled food through the shelter. Therefore, AHS-Newark continued to set the conditions for a rodent infestation.
9/26/17: Partially corrected. Food was being stored correctly at the time of this site visit, but there were still pieces of kibble found in various areas, including behind the baseboard radiator back plate in the food storage room and on the floor in several areas.
Shockingly, AHS-Newark still did not have a supervising veterinarian establish a disease control program. A disease control program established by a supervising veterinarian is critical to ensuring animals stay as healthy as possible. Frankly, the fact AHS-Newark once again did not have such a disease control program should alone be the basis for shutting this shelter down.
9/26/17: Partially corrected. Medication logs were filled out with the dates that the medication had been administered to animals. Cleaning and disinfection protocols are under review by the NJDOH. A disease control program had not been established by the supervising veterinarian. The facility management shall provide a written disease control and health care plan established under the supervision and assistance of the supervising veterinarian. This requires immediate correction.
To make matters worse, the inspectors apparently could not identify a proper isolation area for sick animals. Isolating sick animals from healthy ones is the cornerstone of disease control in an animal shelter.
9/26/17: Partially corrected. A disease control and health care plan had not yet been established by the supervising veterinarian. It was unclear which room was to be the designated isolation room to be used only for the housing of animals being treated for or with signs of communicable disease. The isolation room is not to be used for any other purpose, including storage of items not for use in the isolation room and for housing animals that are not exhibiting signs of or being treated for a communicable disease.
Dogs in Basement Left in Horrible Conditions
AHS-Newark continued to not provide legally required exercise to dogs in its basement. Under state law, shelters must walk dogs for 20 minutes a day or exercise dogs in runs at least twice a day if such dogs reside in kennels below a certain size. The inspectors stated AHS-Newark must immediately house its so-called “aggressive” basement dogs in larger kennels.
9/26/17: Partially corrected. Dogs housed in the basement were the aggressive dogs that are unable to be safely walked. These dogs need to be housed in double enclosures to provide the minimum cage space as required for the size of the dogs housed in these enclosures. This requires immediate correction.
If providing no exercise to already stressed out dogs in AHS-Newark’s dungeon like basement was not bad enough, AHS-Newark continued to provide inadequate ventilation to these animals. As such, these dogs were subjected to odors and humidity. In fact, the inspectors noted these odors were “more prevalent” at this inspection than the last one.
9/26/17: Not corrected. The ventilation in the basement was insufficient to remove odors and humidity. Odors were more prevalent at the time of this site visit than the previous inspection. The facility management will be required to provide a detailed plan of correction with an estimated timeline for completion.
Dead Animals Still Left Outside Like Trash Near Live Dog Enclosures
During the August 22, 2017 inspection, AHS-Newark had bags of dead animals outside of its refrigerator and incinerator. To make matters worse, these dead animals were stored adjacent to the outside portions of live dog enclosures. According to a news article published on September 21, 2017, AHS Assistant Executive Director, Jill Van Tuyl, blamed outside agencies’ animal control officers and claimed she had new procedures to apparently rectify this problem.
Despite Jill Van Tuyl’s rosy solution, the inspectors found two bags containing dead raccoons in this place. Once again, AHS-Newark allowed dead animals to lie out like trash near outdoor enclosures that live dogs use.
9/26/17: Not corrected. There were two bags found on the floor outside behind the refrigeration unit that contained dead raccoons at the time of this site visit. The gate to the refrigeration unit was locked and inaccessible to inspectors and animal control officers arriving with animals.
AHS-Newark Continues to House Animals in Unsafe Conditions
The August 22, 2017 inspection report documented water leaking from AHS-Newark’s air conditioning system into the main dog kennel area and into an animal enclosure in the basement. According to the inspection report, the shelter did not correct this violation.
9/26/17: Not corrected. The previously unknown source of water was found to be flowing from the air conditioning units on the roof of the facility. The condensation pipe for the accumulated water from the evaporative coils was pouring directly onto the roof and was not being appropriately diverted as required. The facility management will need to comply with the requirements of and correct any deficiencies found by the Newark Code Enforcement Officers.
Previously, the inspectors documented a severe crack on the wall located at the door to the exterior dog kennels. How severe was this crack? The inspection report suggested a qualified engineer should evaluate the crack to determine if the wall would collapse.
While AHS-Newark patched this crack, the inspectors noted other parts of facility’s perimeter wall were also in similarly poor condition. How on earth does an organization taking in over $9 million of revenue last year allow its building to fall into this condition?
9/26/17: Partially corrected. This wall had been patched, but there were other areas along the perimeter wall that were in a similar condition at the time of this site visit. The Newark Code Enforcement Officers were on site to evaluate the condition of the building at the time of this site visit.
The August 22, 2017 inspection report noted the main and basement dog kennel areas were not structurally sound and maintained in good repair. Holes and cracks in the flooring existed throughout these animal enclosures and sheets of concrete were peeling up where the shelter attempted to make past repairs. Automatic watering stations had exposed pipes. Automatic feeders were present that staff could not properly clean and disinfect.
According to the September 26, 2017 inspection report, AHS-Newark only partially corrected these violations. Notably, serious problems must remain since the inspectors stated AHS-Newark must share a detailed plan with an estimated timeline for completion. The fact AHS-Newark did not even provide this plan calls its remediation efforts into question.
9/26/17: Partially corrected. The facility management shall provide a detailed plan of correction with an estimated timeline for completion.
Previously, the inspectors stated the guillotine doors in the dog kennel area were not strong enough to prevent dogs from escaping. In fact, a dog escaped its enclosure during the August 22, 2017 inspection. During the September 26, 2017 inspection, AHS-Newark said this was corrected. However, the inspectors disagreed and said the shelter must replace the guillotine doors and repair the adjacent walls. Once again, AHS-Newark’s absurd statement about solving these issues makes me seriously question its entire remediation program.
9/26/17: Said to have been corrected, but walls had not yet been repaired at the time of this site visit. Guillotine doors will need to be removed and replaced as the walls are repaired.
Departments’ of Health Must Shut AHS-Newark Down
The New Jersey and Newark health departments have allowed AHS-Newark to violate state law for decades. The New Jersey Commission of Investigation report on AHS in 2003 documented serious problems at AHS-Newark going back to the 1970s. Despite these repeated issues, the state and local health departments did little resolve them.
After AHS-Newark performed terribly during multiple inspections in 2009, the New Jersey Department of Health let AHS-Newark off easy. In a November 6, 2009 inspection report, the New Jersey Department of Health stated the following:
Many of the violations documented in the July 30 and August 26, 2009 inspections have been corrected and the conditions at this facility were improved at the time of this inspection. Management will need to maintain diligence during the more crowded and busy summer months to ensure continued compliance with New Jersey Administrative Code (N.J.A.C.) 8:23A 1.1 through 1.13.
Despite this upbeat statement, this very same inspection report documented serious problems such as improper cleaning and disinfecting procedures, not separating sick animals from healthy ones, not exercising dogs in small kennels, animal housing areas in severe disrepair and a lack of documentation to determine if sick animals received proper medical treatment. In other words, the New Jersey Department of Health gave AHS-Newark a free pass.
The New Jersey Commission of Investigation warned the New Jersey Department of Health and Newark Health Department six years earlier in its report on AHS that this approach is destined to fail. Specifically, they stated taking a collaborative approach with management that is not amenable to improving is a fruitless endeavor. Furthermore, the New Jersey Commission of Investigation stated these health departments “must be aggressive in pursuing legal proceedings” in these circumstances. Finally, the New Jersey Commission of Investigation explicitly asserted the municipality must take over the shelter or contract with another organization that will run the shelter properly in these situations.
The approach of the Department of Health and Senior Services to counsel and advise a shelter’s management on how to remedy the violations and improve the conditions is admirable. However, such an approach is effective only when the management is amenable to making the improvements. When it becomes clear that such an approach is unsuccessful, then the department must be aggressive in pursuing legal proceedings. The threat of enforcement proceedings, which typically appears in letters from the department to a shelter’s management, must be more than mere words. The failure to follow through leads to a loss of credibility for the department and reinforces the cavalier attitude of the shelter’s management. The inspecting and licensing authorities on the local level must conduct themselves in similar fashion. In the event of mounting fines and continued lack of responsiveness by shelter management, the municipality must be prepared to assume control of the shelter or entrust its operation to a suitable alternative.
Clearly, the New Jersey Department of Health and the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness must start legal proceedings to shut AHS-Newark down unless Roseann Trezza, all other AHS executives and the entire AHS Board of Directors resign. Additionally, the City of Newark and all the other contracting municipalities must find a new organization to house their animals or run such a facility themselves. At best, AHS-Newark will make inadequate changes that will go away after the state health department stops following up. Simply put, AHS-Newark cannot operate properly with its current leadership.
Animal Advocates Must Continue to Demand for Change
Here are several things every person can do to improve this situation.
- Pressure the NJ SPCA to throw the book at Roseann Trezza and all her accomplisses
- Call Mayor Ras Baraka at (973) 733-6400 and demand he re-start former Mayor Booker’s project to build a new no kill shelter in the city
- Call the New Jersey Department of Health at (609) 826-4872 or (609) 826-5964 and tell them to 1) Shut AHS-Newark down unless Roseann Trezza, all other AHS executives and all AHS board members resign and 2) Inspect AHS-Tinton Falls and AHS-Popcorn Park
Additionally, people should contact the following mayors using the information below and demand they terminate their arrangements with AHS-Newark unless it gets rid of Roseann Trezza, its other executives and its entire Board of Directors:
Belleville: (973) 450-3345
Carteret: (732) 541-3801
Clark: (732) 388-3600
Fanwood: (908)-322-8236, ext. 124; email@example.com
Newark: (973) 733-6400; https://www.newarknj.gov/contact-us
Irvington: (973) 399-8111
Linden: (908) 474-8493; firstname.lastname@example.org
Fairfield: (973) 882-2700; email@example.com
Orange: (973) 266-4005
Plainfield: (908) 753-3310; firstname.lastname@example.org
Roselle: (908) 956-5557; email@example.com
Rahway: 732-827-2009; firstname.lastname@example.org
Winfield Park: (908) 925-3850