Hamilton’s Horrendous Response to Animal Shelter Criticism

In May, I shared Hamilton Township’s horrible 2017 animal shelter statistics on my Facebook page. Overall, the shelter killed 22% of the dogs who had outcomes during the year. If the 18 dogs listed in “Other” outcomes died or went missing, then 28% of dog would have been killed, died or went missing. Since many dogs in suburban shelters like Hamilton Township Animal Shelter have licenses and/or microchips and are quickly reclaimed, its informative to look at the dogs that owners did not reclaim. Hamilton Township Animal Shelter killed 76 dogs or 41% of unclaimed dogs during 2017. Assuming the 18 additional dogs in “Other” outcomes died or went missing, 52% of Hamilton Township’s non-reclaimed dogs would have lost their lives or went missing last year. On the other hand, Austin Animal Center saved 99% of its dogs and 98% of its non-reclaimed dogs in 2017. Thus, Hamilton Township Animal Shelter’s dogs lost their lives at 22 to 26 times the rate of Austin Animal Center.

Hamilton Township Animal Shelter’s cats faced an ever more grim fate. Hamilton Township Animal Shelter killed 220 or 38% of the cats who had outcomes in 2017. If the 125 cats classified in “Other” outcomes lost their lives or went missing, 60% of the cats who had outcomes in 2017 at Hamilton Township Animal Shelter would have been killed, died or went missing. As a comparison, only 5% of cats were euthanized, died or went missing at Austin Animal Center in 2017. Thus, cats at Hamilton Township Animal Shelter were around 8 to 12 times more likely to lose their lives than cats at Austin Animal Center.

Even more troubling, the shelter celebrated the expansion of its animal shelter in 2015. Despite spending over $1 million on this project and increasing its animal shelter operating budget by 56%, the shelter still kills huge numbers of healthy and treatable animals.

Hamilton Township Council Demands Improvement

In June, the Hamilton Township Council decided to conduct a full investigation of the animal shelter. Councilman Rick Tighe said:

Innocent animals are being killed each year due to the ineffective leadership of the mayor and her administration


I believe there are ways we can improve the town’s euthanasia rate while also reducing the burden on our taxpayers. I look forward to conducting a full investigation to fix this problem once and for all.

Council Vice President Jeff Martin stated:

Three years ago Hamilton spent $1.1 million to improve the Hamilton Animal Shelter with the promise it would reduce euthanasia rates, improve adoption rates and therefore reduce costs. Unfortunately, what we have seen is the opposite.

Mayor Yaede Carts Out Biased People to Defend the Animal Shelter

On July 11, Mayor Yaede issued a poorly written press release. The press release cited a shelter employee filing a “Notice of Claim” against several council members for allegedly creating a “Hostile work environment.” How did the council do this according to the employee and Mayor Yaede? By daring to speak the truth and calling the shelter workers “killers of innocent animals.” To support her claims, the Mayor stated:

We are now beginning to see respected community leaders coming forward to defend the reputation of our shelter staff.

So who are these “respected community leaders?”

Mayor Yaede used the veterinarian the town contracts with to vouch for the shelter. So let me see, we expect someone who is paid by the shelter to provide an unbiased assessment of that very shelter? Additionally, this veterinarian has worked with the shelter for decades and surely must have known about the needless killing of healthy and treatable animals.

Furthermore, Hamilton shelter reform advocate, Steve Clegg, obtained the following two sentence long “Disease Control Program” the veterinarian approved.

Hamilton Township Animal Shelter Disease Control Program.jpg


Under state law, shelters must have a disease control program and such program must “address the physical and psychological well-being of animals at the facility, including stress-induced behaviors, such as repetitious behavior or vocalizations, from auditory, visual, and olfactory stimuli.” Clearly, the veterinarian approved an inadequate disease control program.

Dr. Carter’s credibility is further diminished by the following statements insinuating the shelter only euthanizes hopelessly suffering animals.

The [Hamilton Township] shelter also promotes humane treatment for terminally ill rescues and abandoned pets to lessen the suffering.  At times euthanasia is the last resort given and at times it’s heartbreaking to put an animal down knowing that it was the right decision for all involved.

Hamilton Township Animal Shelter’s high kill rates compared to high performing animal control shelters proves this facility kills healthy and treatable animals. In 2017, 22% of dogs and 38% of cats lost their lives at Hamilton Township Animal Shelter (those number could be as high as 28% for dogs and 60% for cats if animals listed in “Other” outcomes died). As a comparison, EASEL Animal Rescue League, which operates the nearby Ewing Animal Shelter, only had 1% of their dogs and 7% of their cats lose their lives in 2017. In other words, 22-28 times more dogs and 5-9 times more cats lost their lives or went missing at Hamilton Township Animal Shelter compared to Ewing Animal Shelter. Thus, these numbers prove Hamilton Township Animal Shelter is killing pets and not just euthanizing hopelessly suffering animals.

Hamilton Township Animal Shelter’s own euthanasia records also show the shelter killing healthy and treatable animals. For example, on May 22, 2017 Hamilton Township Animal Shelter took in and killed 46 cats on the very same day and cited “Hoarder House, Ringworm, Upper Respiratory Infection” as the reasons for killing most of these animals. No effort was made to save these cats. The shelter just killed them. Similarly, the shelter killed a 10 year old dog named Havoc during the seven day protection period citing “Owner Surrender Senior Dog in December 2017.” Since many of these animals were not hopelessly suffering according to Hamilton Township Animal Shelter’s records, it is likely the shelter illegally killed these animals during the state’s seven day protection period. Thus, Hamilton Township Animal Shelter kills many healthy and treatable animals.

Hamilton Township taxpayers are also getting ripped off by their animal shelter. According to a recent news article, Ewing pays EASEL Animal Rescue League $150,000 per year to run the shelter. When we add this amount to town’s $104,750 animal control department budget, Ewing pays $254,750 per year for animal control and its animal shelter. Based on EASEL Animal Rescue League taking in 896 dogs and cats in 2017, Ewing pays $284 per dog and cat. As a comparison, Hamilton allocated $546,966 in its 2018 budget to its animal control and sheltering operation. Based on the Hamilton Township Animal Shelter taking in 938 dogs and cats in 2017, the town pays $583 per dog and cat. In other words, Hamilton is paying more than twice as much per dog and cat than Ewing. Even if we exclude animals EASEL rescued from other shelters, Hamilton would still pay 53% more per animal than Ewing. Thus, Hamilton taxpayers are getting ripped off in that they are paying much more money than Ewing taxpayers and Hamilton Township’s animal shelter is killing far more animals.

Mayor Yaede’s press release also cited the President of a rescue group that has had a special relationship with the shelter for nearly two decades. Unfortunately, certain people in the rescue community put their friendships with shelter directors over the interests of animals. According to this rescue group’s President, this group volunteers at the shelter. However, it appears they have an exclusive ability to do so as I know of no way someone can volunteer at the shelter without being under the control of this group. Whether this group defends the shelter because they are friendly with shelter management, enjoy their special status, feel they must defend the shelter to continue volunteering or are completely misguided, they have no credibility in my book.

Finally, Mayor Yaede’s press release cited a positive 2017 “inspection” by an NJ SPCA official. Specifically, the press release quoted “Corporal” Matt Payne stating the following:

The facility was very clean, there was no waste in any of the kennels, the animals appeared to be in good health, had water/food, and were well cared for.

Given that the Hamilton Township Animal Shelter hardly used any of its capacity since it killed so many animals, is it surprising someone could find the shelter “clean?” At the beginning and end of 2017, Hamilton Township Animal Shelter reported having 10 dogs and 16 dogs and a capacity for 36 dogs. Similarly, the facility’s 2017 Shelter/Pound Annual report also stated the shelter held 15 cats and 11 cats at the beginning and end of 2017 and a capacity for 53 cats. In other words, Hamilton Township Animal Shelter only on average used 36% of its dog capacity and 25% of its cat capacity. Thus, any shelter can be “clean” if the shelter kills many animals and has few in the facility.

The good “Corporal” went on to state the following:

The shelter has multiple intake rooms, a sick quarantine room, and a vet that sees the animals.

While the NJ SPCA official can state the shelter has intake and quarantine rooms, using them is a totally different matter. Specifically, the shelter’s inadequate and probably illegal “disease control program” provides no requirements, let alone procedures, for the shelter to use these parts of the facility to reduce and treat illnesses. Furthermore, the New Jersey Department of Health, and not the NJ SPCA, is the agency responsible for determining if a shelter complies with state law. If Hamilton Township Animal Shelter was serious about complying with state law, it would have requested a surprise inspection from the state health department.

Over the years, the NJ SPCA has looked the other way as shelter after shelter clearly broke animal cruelty laws. Examples include Linden Animal Control, Associated Humane Societies-Newark, Jersey Animal Coalition, Elizabeth Animal Shelter, Gloucester County Animal Shelter and Paterson Animal Shelter to name just a few. In all these cases, the NJ SPCA had documented evidence, such as state health department inspection reports and/or shelter records provided/made public by animal advocates. Even when the NJ SPCA brought charges, such as against the Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter and Associated Humane Societies-Newark (after years of not doing anything), the NJ SPCA brought too few charges and could not produce strong enough evidence to secure convictions with serious penalties.

Most importantly, the NJ SPCA has no credibility. Last year, the New Jersey Commission of Investigation issued a scathing report on this state agency. For example, the report found the NJ SPCA unresponsive to animal cruelty complaints, spent much more money on legal bills than animal care, had high ranking officials enrich themselves by entering into business transactions with the NJ SPCA and the organization’s top brass received all sorts of questionable benefits, such as cars for personal use. Subsequently, the NJ SPCA told its members to lie to legislators by using fake names in attempt to kill a bill that eliminated the NJ SPCA’s law enforcement powers. Thus, in the very same year the NJ SPCA wrote its glowing report on the Hamilton Township Animal Shelter, the NJ SPCA’s corrupt and inept actions became well-known to the public.

The NJ SPCA lost its law enforcement powers on July 1, 2018. After the state legislature approved the bill, including a 63-0 vote in the state Senate, Governor Christie signed the bill into law in early 2018. In other words, both Republicans and Democrats were so appalled with the corrupt and inept nature of the NJ SPCA that they agreed the organization could no longer enforce animal cruelty laws. Thus, its fitting that a wasteful and animal unfriendly shelter would cite another corrupt organization that failed the animals most needing its help.

Hamilton Residents Must Demand Reform

Mayor Yaede’s poorly thought out press release is consistent with her other actions. In 2016, Mayor Yaede and the council correctly put into place an ordinance banning the sales of dogs and cats, except those that are rescue animals, at retail pet stores. However, Mayor Yaede recently admitted to buying a puppy from a pet store called the Puppy Palace in a nearby community. In other words, Mayor Yaede circumvented the very law she put into place. Even worse, Mayor Yaede sent a message that it is better to obtain pets from shady pet stores rather than saving lives from the town’s animal shelter. If that was not enough, Mayor Yaede brought her dog to a park where dogs are not allowed. Even worse, the Trentonian newspaper said Mayor Yaede contacted the Hamilton Little League President to make excuses for the mayor. While I do not approve of banning dogs from parks, Mayor Yaede’s total disregard for the law and her attempt to get others to excuse it speaks volumes about her character.

Mayor Yaede’s person overseeing the shelter proved the current people running the facility cannot make positive change. In order to solve a problem, one must acknowledge the problem exists. Unfortunately, Jeffrey Plunkett, Director of the Department of Health, Recreation, Senior and Veterans Services, thinks the shelter is doing a fantastic job according to a recent NJ.com article:

I couldn’t be more proud of our animal shelter staff and the…commitment they show to the citizens and animals of Hamilton

Apparently, a shelter that violates state law, spends far more money per dog and cat and kills many times more animals than a neighboring community’s shelter makes Mr. Plunkett “proud” and shows “commitment” to the “citizens and animals of Hamilton.” If that’s what commitment means to Mr. Plunkett, both the taxpayers and animals of Hamilton can use a lot less of it. In reality, it seems Jeffrey Plunkett is defending the shelter to protect his job paying him $122,535 a year.

Hamilton residents must demand serious reforms at the Hamilton Township Animal Shelter. Specifically, they must accept nothing less than the following:

  1. Fire shelter manager Todd Bencivengo and other key employees and replace them with a competent and compassionate shelter manager and staff members who will save lives
  2. Create a No Kill Implementation plan similar to the one in Austin, Texas that mandates the shelter fully put the No Kill Equation into place and achieve a minimum 90% live release rate

Residents should attend the Hamilton Township Council meeting on Tuesday, July 17, at the Nottingham Fire Company Ballroom, 200 Mercer Street, Hamilton, NJ 08690 and make the points above. Furthermore, they should also convey these demands in emails to the following Hamilton Township council members:

Council President Anthony Carabelli,Jr.: ACarabelli@HamiltonNJ.com
Council Vice President Jeffrey Martin: JMartin@HamiltonNJ.com
Councilwoman Ileana Schirmer: ISchirmer@HamiltonNJ.com
Councilman Richard Tighe: RTighe@HamiltonNJ.com
Councilman Ralph Mastrangelo: RMastrangelo@HamiltonNJ.com

Hamilton’s residents have the chance to end the needless killing of the town’s homeless animals and waste of taxpayer dollars. Let’s make sure that happens.

New Inspection Report Reveals More Horrific Problems at Associated Humane Societies-Newark

Over the last several months, New Jersey Department of Health and Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness inspectors documented terrible violations of state law at Associated Humane Societies-Newark. AHS-Newark’s problems were so serious and extensive that authorities did not issue the shelter a normal operating license. You can read about the August 22, 2017 inspection here and the September 26, 2017 inspection here. On October 4, 2017, the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness inspected AHS-Newark alone and reported some improvements, but the City of Newark has a history of failing to properly inspect this shelter. You can read about that inspection here.

Subsequent to the August 22, 2017 inspection, AHS-Newark made various excuses and claimed it made “significant progress” in resolving these issues. Did AHS-Newark fix all of its problems after two months passed? What does a new October 20, 2017 New Jersey Department of Health inspection report and related photos say about the quality of the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness’ inspections?

Latest AHS-Newark Inspection Report Even Worse Than Prior Ones

While AHS-Newark did fix some violations from prior inspections, the inspectors gave AHS-Newark a lower grade on the October 20, 2017 inspection report. Specifically, AHS-Newark received a “Conditional B grade” on the August 22, 2017 inspection report and an “Unsatisfactory” rating on the new October 20, 2017 inspection report. To make matters worse, the state health department found some serious new violations during the October 20, 2017 inspection. As a result, authorities once again refused to grant AHS-Newark a normal operating license due to the shelter’s massive violations of state law.

AHS-Newark Had No Supervising Veterinarian

Despite running the largest animal shelter in New Jersey, AHS-Newark failed to have a supervising veterinarian responsible for a disease control and health care management program at the time of the inspection. More troubling, the previous veterinarian left the facility. While AHS-Newark did find a veterinarian to provide some services, that person would only do so for two days a week and would not take on the responsibility of being the supervising veterinarian. If AHS-Newark has trouble retaining and attracting supervising veterinarians, what does that say about AHS-Newark’s management and the conditions of the facility?

10/20/17: Not corrected: The facility did not have a supervising veterinarian responsible for a disease control and health care program at the facility. The previous supervising veterinarian left the facility on 10/17/17. A veterinarian has offered her services two days per week to assist where she can, but this veterinarian stated that she is unable to provide the services required of a supervising veterinarian for this facility.

AHS-Newark falsely communicated to potential adopters that it had a supervising veterinarian.

1.9 (b) Deficiency found on 10/20/17: The form signed by the previous veterinarian indicating that there was a disease control and health care program in effect under the supervision of that veterinarian, was posted in public view at the facility.

Furthermore, AHS-Newark failed to notify the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness that its supervising veterinarian left the organization.

1.9 (c) Deficiency found on 10/20/17: The supervising veterinarian did not notify the local health department that she was no longer employed at the facility. The Assistant Director or any other responsible party did not notify the local health department that the supervising veterinarian was no longer employed at the facility.

AHS-Newark Fails to Properly Clean and Disinfect Its Facility

AHS-Newark did not properly clean and disinfect food and water bowls. Shockingly, the shelter cleaned food bowls with clay cat litter still inside. Furthermore, the AHS-Newark employee just threw water in a bowl with unknown amounts of disinfectant instead of using the correct disinfectant to water ratio to create an effective cleaning solution.

10/20/17 Not corrected. The food and water receptacles in the small dog and cat room were not being thoroughly cleaned with the detergent provided to animal caretakers and were not being disinfected as required. Clay cat litter was seen in the food bowls that were found partially emerged in a cloudy solution in an orange 5-gallon bucket. The animal caretaker stated that this bucket contained disinfectant and when he saw that the bowls were not fully emerged, he filled the bucket with additional water from the faucet. The disinfectant contained in this bucket was contaminated with dirt and debris and water was indiscriminately added to the bucket without measuring the amount of water and without adding additional disinfectant. Cleaning and disinfecting solutions are required to be changed when visibly dirty and the amount of disinfectant and the amount of water are both required to be measured to maintain the dilution ratio as stated in the manufacturer’s instructions for proper disinfection of precleaned surfaces.


To make matters worse, the shelter did not use enough disinfectant in its cleaning solutions and did not leave such substances long enough on the animal enclosures’ surfaces. Specifically, AHS-Newark used three ounces of a disinfectant in nine to eleven gallon buckets of water (under the assumption they were full) when it should have used more than twenty times as much disinfectant to clean and disinfect floors through the facility. In addition, AHS-Newark wiped dry disinfectant solution in cat cages before the required time. Thus, AHS-Newark failed to use enough disinfectant and leave such cleaning solution on surfaces long enough to prevent the spread of disease.

10/20/17: Not corrected. The disinfectant was not being mixed at the correct dilution and was not maintained on surfaces for the required contact time for disinfection in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions at the time of this inspection.

The bucket that was said to have contained disinfectant in the small dog and cat room as described in 1.7 was contaminated with debris and additional water was added to this contaminated disinfection solution without changing the solution and without measuring the water and adding the appropriate amount of measured disinfectant.

The inspector watched the cleaning process for one of the cat cages in the front lobby. The disinfectant was sprayed on the surfaces of the enclosure, but was not permitted to set for the required time as indicated in the manufacturer’s instructions before being wiped dry with a paper towel. Spray bottles that contain ResCue brand disinfectant were marked with the word Accel (previous manufacturer’s name for this product) but these bottles were not marked with the dilution ratio for the mixed-use solution contained in these bottles.

The inspector was told that 3 ounces of disinfectant was used in the 35 to 44 Qt. commercial size mop buckets to clean and disinfect the floors throughout the facility. The manufacturer’s instructions state to dilute 8 ounces of product per gallon of water for treatment of animal housing facilities

Even if AHS-Newark used proper procedures, it could not effectively clean and disinfect the surfaces of its outdoor dog enclosures since these were apparently not impervious to moisture. AHS-Newark stated it sealed these surfaces, but the facility’s maintenance person could not provide documentation of the product used or even remember the product’s name. Frankly, I find it hard to believe AHS-Newark sealed these surfaces if it did not even know what product it used.

10/20/17: The surfaces of the outdoor enclosures that were said to have been sealed did not appear to effectively prevent moisture from being absorbed into the concrete surfaces. Product information for the sealant was requested by inspectors at the time of this inspection, but the documents were not provided and the building maintenance person could not remember the name of the product used.


Similarly, AHS-Newark also did poor work in fixing its main dog enclosures and other parts of its shelter. While AHS-Newark repaired some of the damaged concrete in the main dog cages, it did not remove “accumulated layers of deteriorated and peeling paint” from blocks and concrete surfaces. Furthermore, AHS-Newark did not properly resurface the walls and floors in the animal enclosures and the rest of the facility to create a smooth and uniform surface before applying new paint. Therefore, the paint was peeling and staff could not properly clean and disinfect these areas.

10/20/17: Partially corrected: Some areas of damaged concrete had been repaired and the facility was in the process of being painted, but the new paint that was applied and said to have been cured was peeling in several areas. The blocks and concrete surfaces were said to have been scraped to remove the accumulated layers of deteriorated and peeling paint, but the old paint was not removed from these surfaces. The walls and floors throughout the facility and in the animal enclosures had not been resurfaced and properly prepared to create a smooth and uniform surface before the new paint was applied. The repairs to the interior surfaces of the facility had not been completed.


When AHS-Newark removed animals from their cages during cleaning, they placed these animals into filthy enclosures and carriers. While the shelter did place cage numbers on some of the cat carriers to avoid multiple animals going into the same areas, staff still indiscriminately placed cats into these carriers. Even worse, the shelter had too few cat carriers (17) compared to the number of cats housed in this room (41). Therefore, even if the staff wanted to follow this procedure it could not work. The inspector noted every single one of the cat carriers “contained an accumulation of caked on dirt and debris and had not been cleaned and disinfected before the cats were placed in these enclosures.” Thus, AHS-Newark created the perfect recipe for disease to spread when it was trying to do the opposite.

1.6 (d) Deficiencies found on 10/20/17: Animals were being placed in enclosures and carriers previously inhabited by other animals without these enclosures and carriers first being cleaned and disinfected. Cats and kittens in the cat adoption room, the cat overflow room, and the small dog and cat room were being placed in carriers that had not been cleaned and disinfected. Some carriers were marked with the corresponding cage number to avoid cross contamination between animals, but these carriers were not being used as intended and cats from various enclosures were being placed indiscriminately in these carriers during the cleaning process. The inspector saw cats in carriers that contained an accumulation of dirt and debris and had not been cleaned and disinfected before the cats were placed in them. The numbers on these carriers did not match the cage numbers that the cats were placed in after the primary enclosures had been cleaned. In addition, there were not enough carriers in each room to match the number of cats housed the rooms. There were 17 carriers being used to hold cats in the small dog and cat room, but there were 41 cats housed in this room. Each of the 17 carriers in this room contained an accumulation of caked on dirt and debris and had not been cleaned and disinfected before the cats were placed in these enclosures.

Apparently, the inspector caught the Assistant Executive Director in a lie about these filthy cat carriers. Specifically, the Assistant Executive Director stated the shelter cleaned and disinfected carriers in the overflow cat room the day before, but the inspector reported the carriers had “an accumulation of feces and caked on dirt and debris and had a strong urine odor and had not been cleaned or disinfected.” Frankly, the idea that this build up of feces and filth occurred over just a single day is absurd in my opinion. This same Assistant Executive Director told us in September AHS-Newark was fixing all these issues and retraining staff. Clearly, AHS-Newark and its Assistant Executive Director have no credibility.

10/20/17: Not corrected. Animal caretakers were not following procedures to control the dissemination of disease throughout the facility. Cats exhibiting signs of communicable disease described in 1.9 (d)1. and (f) above were housed in carriers that had not been cleaned and disinfected between inhabitants. The inspector was told by the Assistant Director that the carriers found in the overflow cat room used to house animals during the cleaning process had been cleaned and disinfected the day before, but these carriers contained an accumulation of feces and caked on dirt and debris and had a strong urine odor and had not been cleaned or disinfected.

Furthermore, AHS-Newark had “an excessive amount of medical waste.” Given such medical waste potentially carries infectious diseases, this is deeply concerning.

1.9 (a) Deficiency found on 10/20/17: The facility was found to be in possession of an excessive amount of medical waste that was being stored at the facility and had not been properly disposed of.

AHS-Newark Fails to Provide Proper Veterinary Care

The shelter did not provide even basic veterinary care to two cats in the “feral cat room.” One cat had a build-up of “crusted material on its nose” and blood smeared in its cage. Another cat in this room could not fully open its right eye, was listless and lying face down. What happened to the new wonderful AHS-Newark medical protocol? Clearly, these animals did not benefit from it.

10/20/17: Not corrected. Animals displaying signs of communicable disease or illness were not provided with basic veterinary care. A red tabby cat located in the feral cat room had an accumulation of crusted material on its nose and there appeared to be small amounts of blood smeared on the cardboard carrier in its cage. A brown tabby cat in the feral cat room was unable to open its right eye fully and the nictitating membrane was covering the eye. This cat appeared listless and was lying with its head face down on top of its hiding box.

AHS-Newark also failed to provide veterinary care to several cats in the adoption room. Two young kittens were housed with a sick male cat in a temporary carrier. This male cat had thick mucous coming out of his two nostrils and both eyes. Unsurprisingly, the two young kittens also had crusted nasal and eye discharge. Another kitten, who was nursing from its mom in a temporary carrier, had “severe” mucous discharge coming from its nose and eyes.

A red patched white male cat housed with two young kittens in a temporary carrier in the cat adoption room (a deficiency of 1.6 (c) 2.) had thick mucopurulent nasal discharge in both nostrils and thick mucopurulent discharge in both eyes. The kittens in this carrier also had a crusted nasal and eye discharge. A young nursing kitten had severe mucopurulent nasal and eye discharge; this kitten was housed in a temporary carrier with its mother located in the cat adoption room.



AHS-Newark also did not provide veterinary treatment to numerous animals in its overflow cat room. Adult cats, nursing mothers with kittens and weaned kittens were sick. These poor animals were sneezing and had nasal and eye discharge. What kind of people do not provide veterinary care to animals in these conditions?

The overflow cat room contained numerous adult cats, nursing mothers with kittens, as well as weaned kittens that were exhibiting signs of a communicable disease, including nasal and eye discharge accompanied by sneezing. These included, but were not limited to, cats and kittens in cage numbers 1 (grey tabby kitten), 2 (two red tabby kittens), 5 (several grey and brown tabby kittens), 7 (black kitten), and 12 (various kittens).





The shelter also failed to treat two small dogs with obvious medical conditions. One Maltese had “numerous sores”, “was missing hair”, and was “aggressively chewing its back” in apparent distress due to the severe itching. How on earth did AHS-Newark personnel not immediately provide this poor dog veterinary treatment? Another poodle like dog had “hot spots”, which typically are severe skin irritations caused by bacterial infections, on its side and rear. Once again, AHS-Newark did not provide medical treatment to an animal who obviously needed it.

A white Maltese, ID number 25862, had numerous sores and was missing hair on its back. This dog was seen aggressively chewing its back and appeared to be in distress with uncontrolled itching. This dog also had eye discharge in both eyes. A white poodle type dog in the small dog and cat room without an identification number had hot spots on its side and rear. These animals listed above had not been provided with veterinary medical care.







Why did AHS-Newark fail to treat sick animals? The shelter did not observe animals daily for signs of contagious diseases. This is animal sheltering 101.

10/20/17: Not corrected. Cats classified as feral were housed in cages in a different room, but animals throughout the facility were not being observed daily for clinical signs of communicable disease or stress. (See 1.9 (d)1. for details.)

AHS-Newark failed again to isolate sick animals from healthy ones. The shelter housed the aforementioned sick cats not receiving veterinary care with healthy cats. Additionally, a black pit bull like dog resided in the main kennel and had green mucous coming out of both eyes. AHS-Newark kept cats and kittens with highly contagious ringworm in the medical exam room rather than in an isolation area. According to the inspection report, this room contained supplies and medical equipment that are used throughout the facility. Furthermore, the room itself is used to examine animals without ringworm. Thus, AHS-Newark created conditions for a huge ringworm outbreak in its shelter.

10/20/17: Not corrected. Animals with signs of a communicable disease were not separated from other healthy animals and placed in an isolation room in order to minimize dissemination of such disease. The cats described in 1.9 (d)1. above were housed with the general population in the feral cat room, the cat adoption room, and the cat overflow room. The red tabby cat with crusted nasal discharge described in 1.9 (d)1. above was housed in an enclosure with another cat in the feral cat room. A black pit bull type dog, ID number 25070 that was housed in the main kennel with the general population had a green mucopurulent discharge in both eyes. Cats and kittens that were said to have ringworm were being housed in the medical exam room and were not housed in a separate isolation room to prevent the dissemination of disease. This medical exam room contained supplies and medical equipment that is used for animals throughout the facility and this room is also used as the examination room for animals brought into the facility.

Shelter Continues to House Animals in Inhumane Conditions

Shockingly, AHS-Newark did not even provide water to large numbers of animals. 20 cats in the lobby had no water for three hours. Since numerous AHS-Newark personnel pass these cats, this is simply unforgivable. Only after the inspector notified the Assistant Executive Director did the shelter provide these poor cats water. The cats in the feral cat room had water bowls that were too small and some even tipped over or were covered by the cardboard carriers used as hiding boxes. According to the inspector, 10 of 15 cats in this room had no access to water. Once again, the shelter only gave the animals water after the inspector told the Assistant Executive Director. Several animals in the small dog and cat room, including the poor poodle with untreated hot spots discussed above, did not have water. Eventually, these animals got water, but it is unclear if the inspector notified the shelter first. Finally, many dogs in the main kennel area tipped their water bowls over when they were in the outside part of their kennels despite the shelter having clips to prevent this. Why did these water bowls tip over? AHS-Newark failed to use these clips.

If AHS-Newark cannot even provide animals water, how on earth can this organization run the largest shelter in New Jersey?

1.7 (h) Deficiencies found on 10/20/17: Numerous animals throughout the facility were not provided with water at all times as required. Twenty cats located in the front lobby did not have water when inspectors arrived at the facility, and these cats still had not been provided with water when inspectors returned to the lobby at approximately 1:00 in the afternoon. When this was brought to the attention of the Assistant Director, the cats were then provided with food, but inspectors left the lobby before these cats were provided with water. This deficiency was corrected before inspectors left the facility. The cats housed in the feral cat room were not provided with sufficiently sized receptacles to provide water at all times and some of these receptacles were tipped over in the enclosures or covered with the cardboard carriers used as hiding boxes. Ten out of the 15 cats housed in the feral cat room (9 out of 14 cages) did not have access to water at the time of this inspection. When this was brought to the attention of Assistant Director, the bowls in these cages were replaced with larger bowls and filled with water at the time of this inspection. There were several animals in the small dog and cat room that were without water at the time of this inspection, including but not limited to, a white poodle type dog that had hot spots on its side and rear that did not have an ID card on its cage, and a small black and brown dog located in cage 18 without an ID card. This was corrected before the inspectors left the facility. Many of the dogs housed in the main kennels had tipped over their water buckets at the time of this inspection. These buckets have clips to avoid tipping, but these clips were not being used in the outside kennels while dogs were housed outdoors during the indoor cleaning process.



AHS-Newark continued to not provide proper ventilation to many of its animals. Dogs residing in the dungeon-like basement had insufficient ventilation to remove humidity and moisture condensation to ensure the animals were healthy and comfortable. Similarly, the disease ridden overflow cat room described above did not have a working ventilation system. What was the AHS-Newark Assistant Executive Director’s solution? Leave the door open and let diseases spread more easily.

10/20/17: Not corrected. Dogs were being housed in the main kennel area of the basement. The ventilation in the basement is insufficient to remove humidity and moisture condensation and is not adequately ventilated to provide for the health and comfort of the animals at all times. See 1.6 (h) for additional deficiencies regarding dogs housed in the basement. The ventilation was not working in the overflow cat room where numerous cats and kittens were found with signs of a communicable disease. The Assistant Director stated that the door to this room is left open.

AHS-Newark continued to illegally house so-called aggressive dogs in the basement. Since AHS-Newark did not provide legally required exercise to these animals, the shelter cannot keep these dogs in the small kennels in the basement.

10/20/17: Not corrected. Aggressive dogs, bite hold dogs, and court hold dogs that are unable to be safely walked on a leash for 20 minutes each day were housed in the basement and not provided with double sided enclosures to provide double the minimum cage space as required for the size of the dogs housed in these enclosures. Some of the dogs housed in the small dog and cat room were being walked outdoors on a leash, but the length of time was unable to be documented.

Furthermore, AHS-Newark did not document that it even walked dogs in the small dog room. So much for the wonderful “dog walking log sheet” the AHS Assistant Executive Director bragged about last September.

“I came up with a dog-walking log sheet so we make sure every animal is getting walked the proper amount,” Van Tuyl said. “We’re keeping a paper trail of it.”

Some dog enclosures in the main kennel area continued to have broken concrete and holes. In fact, one dog enclosure had a urine filled hole just like it did back in the August 22, 2017 inspection report.

10/20/17 Partially corrected: The automatic feeders and waterers have been removed from enclosures. Some of the cracks and holes in the concrete had been filled in with concrete patch, but areas of broken concrete and holes remained in several areas, including the hole in front of the outside dog enclosure shown filled with urine in one of the pictures taken on 8/22/17. This hole was again filled with urine at the time of this inspection. The concrete repairs had not been completed at the time of this inspection.

Concerns About Inhumane Euthanasia

AHS-Newark claimed its veterinary technician was certified by the supervising veterinarian in techniques to euthanize animals properly. However, the shelter could not produce this document. Even worse, the AHS Assistant Executive Director stated she would email this document to the inspector, but did not do so for at least five days. Once again, the AHS Assistant Executive Director, who promised us great things, proves she and her organization are not credible.

1.11 (e) Deficiency found on 10/20/17: The veterinary technician at the facility said she had been certified by the supervising veterinarian in the acceptable euthanasia techniques used at the facility, but the certification document was unable to be produced at the time of this inspection. The Assistant Director stated that she would email the document when it was located, but the NJDOH has not received a copy of this document as of 10/25/17. According to euthanasia documents viewed at the time of this inspection, euthanasia was being performed by the supervising veterinarian, but this veterinarian is no longer employed at the facility.

AHS-Newark’s Fails to Keep Proper Animal Records

The shelter failed to have proper or any identification on many animals. AHS-Newark had the wrong ID cards for cats in the feral cat room. The inspector could not determine if the ID cards for cats in the adoption room matched the cats. Several cats in the front lobby and numerous dogs had no ID card at all. Additionally, a number of dogs in the small dog room had no ID card or had the wrong ID card. While the shelter put the correct ID cards on the kennels in the small dog and cat room eventually, it is unclear if the inspector instructed the shelter do so. Regardless, AHS-Newark’s inability to identify animals raises major concerns as to whether its counting all the animals in its records.

1.13 (a) Deficiency found on 10/20/17: Many animals housed at the facility did not have any form of identification. There were 5 identification cards posted in the feral cat room, but these cards did not match the cats housed in this room. There were some ID cards found on the window sill in the adoptable cat room, but it was undetermined if the ID cards were for any of the cats that were currently housed in that room. (Identification collars were seen on some of the cats in the adoptable cat room.) Cage number 168 located in the basement contained a light brown pit bull type dog with a red spike collar. This dog did not have any type of identification. A grey pit bull type mix and a black pit mix housed in cage number’s 187 and 188 respectively, did not have any type of identification. These two dogs were said to have come in the previous day and inspectors were told that they were still being processed. Animals are required to be provided with identification immediately upon intake into the facility to avoid animals being misidentified. A small blue Shar-Pei housed in cage number 162 in the basement did not have any form of identification. Another Shar-Pei, identical in appearance to the dog in the basement, was housed upstairs in the main kennel in cage number 148. This Shar-Pei had an identification number, 25991, and was not the same dog that was housed in the basement. Other dogs that were housed in the basement were said to have been moved to different cages during the cleaning process without moving the ID cards with them, but there were more dogs housed in the basement than there were ID cards on cages. Dogs in the main kennel without identification included cage number 160, a black pit mix with white chest; cage number 129, a white dog with black patches; and cage number 132, a small cream spaniel mix; cage number 99, a grey pit mix with hair missing on its back that appeared to be a dog that was seen in the isolation room on 9/26/17; and cage number 102, a grey pit bull type dog. Numerous dogs housed in the small dog and cat room were missing ID cards or had the wrong ID card on the enclosure. Examples included, but were not limited to an ID card for a white Maltese on an enclosure that contained a brown Puggle type dog; a cage that contained a blue-eyed Shih Tzu or Havanese type dog with no ID card or other form of identification; cage number 9 contained a small black and tan dog with no identification; and cage number 18 contained another small black and tan dog with no identification. The identification cards for the small dog and cat room were corrected before the inspectors left the facility. There were also cats in the front lobby that did not have identification cards on their enclosures or other forms of identification, including a grey cat located in cage number 14 that did not have a cage card or identification collar.


AHS-Newark also failed to keep proper intake and disposition records. Despite AHS taking in over $9 million of revenue last year, the Newark facility could not produce a list of animals the shelter impounded since the September 26, 2017 inspection. AHS-Newark claimed it could only look an animal up by ID number. When the inspector requested the record of a dog arriving at the shelter on September 23, the record said AHS-Newark transferred a dog of a similar breed on September 7! Obviously, that record was not correct. Additionally, AHS-Newark could not produce records of animals leaving the facility except for those the shelter killed.

Clearly, the lack of proper record keeping raises concerns that AHS-Newark’s statistics are far worse than it reported. Given AHS-Newark’s 2016 statistics do not properly add up and the much higher kill rates I calculated using records I reviewed for animals coming from the City of Newark in 2014 and the City of Irvington for the first nine or so months of 2015, I can’t say this surprises me.

10/20/17: Not corrected. The inspector requested to view intake and disposition records for animals brought into the facility since the previous site visit in September, but records were unable to be viewed by date of intake to determine the disposition of animals adopted, transferred, or reclaimed and to confirm compliance with N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.16. A list or report of animals brought into the facility during a specified time period was unable to be produced. Records were only accessible by the animal’s identification number assigned on intake. The inspector then requested to view the disposition record for a dog that had been at the facility on 9/26/17 and was said to have arrived at the facility on 9/23/17, but the record produced was for a similar type of breed that was transferred from the facility on 9/7/17. The specific record requested and all other disposition records for animals that had not been euthanized were unable to be viewed by inspectors at the time of this inspection. Inspectors reviewed a large stack of paper euthanasia records at the time of this inspection. Paper euthanasia records were sorted in a folder by date of euthanasia with the intake record stapled to the back, therefore euthanasia records were also not readily assessable by date of intake.

Inspection Report Proves AHS Management Cannot Run Shelter Properly

Over the last two months, AHS management insisted it was taking care of its problems. On September 12, AHS-Newark’s Facebook page posted that it was working with the New Jersey and Newark health departments to “ensure we are operating at the highest level we can so we may provide the best service possible to both the animals and the public.” Additionally, the Facebook post stated AHS-Newark was going to “look at this as an opportunity to review and improve our processes and to retrain established and new staff.”

After two months, we now learn what AHS-Newark believes is “operating at the highest level”, providing “the best services to both the animals and the people” and retraining staff means. Apparently, failing to provide water to numerous animals, not cleaning properly, not observing animals for sickness, not treating animals when they get sick, throwing animals into filthy disease ridden places, and not exercising dogs imprisoned in tiny cages is “operating at the highest level” and providing “the best services to both the animals and the people.” Since AHS-Newark had more than two months to fix its problems from the August 22, 2017 inspection, one can only conclude the AHS-Newark training program either allows these things or the organization is incapable of training its staff.

As I previously wrote, AHS-Newark will never run its facility properly as long as Roseann Trezza, the other AHS executives, and the incompetent AHS Board of Directors remain. At no point during this ordeal have I seen AHS-Newark offer to do the following:

  1. Terminate arrangements to reduce the number of animals it takes in to a level it can properly care for
  2. Implement managed intake to reduce animal intake
  3. Demand contracting municipalities implement TNR to reduce cat intake
  4. Aggressively recruit and work to retain volunteers to provide care to its animals
  5. Announce a coherent plan to reduce length of stay in a good way
  6. Produce a detailed plan to improve the medical and emotional health of the animals under its care

Instead, AHS management continues to try and dupe the public. Executive Director, Roseann Trezza, refuses to even comment on the crisis at her shelter. AHS Assistant Executive Director, Jill Van Tuyl, now says “We’re on top of this” and “the vets, they make their rounds in the mornings.” Really, Jill, just like you told us you had this all covered months ago? Afterwards, we find out your shelter does not even do the most basic things like giving animals water, treating sick animals, and properly cleaning animal enclosures that even a child would know to do? Should we really believe you when this very inspection report appeared to paint you in a very negative light?

To make matters worse, the AHS Assistant Executive Director cried about the shelter not being able retain staff in a recent news article. Here is hint Jill, sane people will not want to work in a shelter with incompetent management who pay them peanuts. Additionally, normal people would never want to work in a facility that treats animals like literal garbage and kills these creatures left and right. Simply put, this problem lies with the AHS leadership.

Furthermore, the AHS Assistant Executive Director complained about not having enough money. Despite being the largest sheltering organization in the state, AHS took in $1,354 per dog and cat based on its $9,391,746 of revenue per its most recent Form 990 and the 6,935 dogs and cats it reported taking in last year at its three shelters. As a comparison, Salt Lake County Animal Services only had a budget of $801 per dog and cat in 2016 and saved over 90% of these animals (including pit bull like dogs). Similarly, KC Pet Project, which runs the Kansas City, Missouri animal control shelter, only took in $345 per dog and cat and saved over 90% of these animals in 2016. Even if we add the amount Kansas City pays its own animal control department (i.e. this agency picks up stray animals and sends them to KC Pet Project), this only raises the revenue per dog and cat to $546 per dog and cat (i.e. less than half the amount AHS receives). Many other shelters receive far less funding per animal than AHS-Newark and still save over 90% of their animals. Thus, AHS-Newark’s crying about money is a joke.

Corrupt City of Newark Continues to Give AHS-Newark A Free Pass

Despite the massive problems found in this latest state inspection report, the Newark Department of Community Health and Wellness seemed to do AHS-Newark’s bidding when it made the following statement:

“Corrective action for several deficiencies previously reported have been observed to date and implemented including the hiring of a full-time veterinarian and full-time staff member designated to ensure that animals are fed and provided water accordingly.”

As I wrote about in my last blog, the Newark Department of Community Health and Wellness has a history of finding no problems with AHS-Newark and has an admitted conflict of interest. This local health department gave AHS-Newark a “Satisfactory” grade one month before the devastating August 22, 2017 state inspection. Additionally, the Newark Department of Community Health and Wellness failed to find any of the many problems documented in this inspection report when it conducted its own inspection 16 days before. Thus, the City of Newark’s health department is corrupt, incompetent and cannot be trusted.

People Must Continue to Pressure Authorities to Act

Here are several things every person can do to improve this situation.

  1. Pressure the NJ SPCA to throw the book at Roseann Trezza and all her accomplisses
  2. 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
  3. 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; mayor@fanwoodnj.org
Hillside:(973) 926-3000
Newark: (973) 733-6400; https://www.newarknj.gov/contact-us
Irvington: (973) 399-8111
Linden: (908) 474-8493; darmstead@linden-nj.org
Fairfield: (973) 882-2700; jgasparini@fairfieldnj.org
Orange: (973) 266-4005
Plainfield: (908) 753-3310; adrian.mapp@plainfieldnj.gov
Roselle: (908) 956-5557; cdansereau@boroughofroselle.com
Rahway: 732-827-2009; mayor@cityofrahway.com
Winfield Park: (908) 925-3850

Associated Humane Societies-Newark’s Atrocious Inspection Report

Regular readers of this blog are familiar with Associated Humane Societies-Newark’s horrific history. In 2003, State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation (“SCI”) issued a scathing report on AHS. Specifically, the report stated AHS failed its animals on a grand scale:

The history of AHS’s shelter operation has been dominated by deplorable kennel conditions, inhumane treatment of animals by workers, mismanagement and nonexistent or inadequate medical care. The problems were neither singular nor occasional. The accounts and descriptions provided by members of the public and former and current staff members, including veterinarians, paint a bleak picture of shelter life. The reality for the animals belied AHS’s propaganda that its “sole purpose” has been “the care and welfare of animals” and that it has “a high adoption rate.”

The New Jersey Department of Health found AHS-Newark violating state law left and right in 2009. This inspection revealed AHS-Newark did the following:

  1. Illegally killed animals during state’s seven day hold period
  2. Left dead rotting animals in shopping carts outside
  3. Let dogs live in filthy kennels covered in feces
  4. Failed to properly treat sick animals
  5. Did not isolate sick animals from healthy ones
  6. Failed to properly clean animal enclosures
  7. Had an inadequate disease control program
  8. Did not list weights of animals and methods used to kill animals
  9. Did not properly keep animal intake and disposition records
  10. Facility needed repairs to prevent injury to animals
  11. Allowed animal enclosures to deteriorate to the point they could not be properly cleaned

Sadly, the New Jersey Department of Health continued to find significant issues during another inspection in 2011. The inspection report noted dogs housed in kennels with a collapsed roof and workers throwing damaged roof material directly over these dogs. Additionally the report stated outdoor drains were in severe disrepair, no isolation areas for sick large dogs existed, automatic dog feeders were filthy, dogs were exposed to contaminated water and chemicals during the cleaning process, and some animals were not receiving prompt medical care.

Last year, I wrote a blog highlighting potential violations from 2014. Specifically, records I examined suggested AHS-Newark may have violated state law as follows:

  1. Illegally killing animals during state’s seven day hold period
  2. Failing to properly treat sick animals
  3. Not keeping proper animal intake and disposition records

As a result of this review and the City of Newark’s Department of Health and Community Wellness failing to conduct robust inspections, I requested the New Jersey Department of Health inspect AHS-Newark.

After animal advocates got word of a joint New Jersey Department of Health and Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness inspection (undoubtedly the New Jersey Department of Health did most, if not all, of the work) last week, AHS-Newark attempted to downplay the results. Specifically, the organization made a Facebook post that included the following language suggesting AHS-Newark just needed to refine a few processes to make sure it is “operating at the highest level”:

Associated Humane Societies (AHS) Newark branch has recently been inspected by both the NJ State Health Department and the City of Newark Health Department. We are working closely with both agencies to ensure we are operating at the highest level we can so we may provide the best service possible to both the animals and the public. We look at this as an opportunity to review and improve our processes and to retrain established and new staff.

Was AHS-Newark being fully transparent with its statement? Does AHS-Newark have massive problems? Has AHS-Newark consistently had the same issues? What kind of “service” does AHS-Newark provide to the animals and the public?

You can view the inspection report here and the related photos here. All photos posted in this blog were originally sourced from the New Jersey Department of Health’s August 22, 2017 inspection of AHS-Newark.

AHS-Newark Violates State Law on a Massive Scale

According to the inspection report, AHS-Newark did not comply with state law to such an extent that the City of Newark could not issue the facility a license.

1.2 (a) and (b) The facility is not in compliance with these rules, therefore a satisfactory certificate of inspection for the current licensing year by the local health authority cannot be issued. The facility is currently unlicensed and a license for the current year cannot be issued by the City of Newark until the facility is brought into significant compliance.

Illegal Killing During Seven Day Protection Period

AHS-Newark illegally killed both stray and owner surrendered animals during the seven day protection period. In fact, AHS-Newark illegally killed many animals according to the inspectors. Given AHS-Newark violated this law in 2009 and should have known from my blog last year that it potentially violated the law in 2014, the shelter has no excuse for these actions. To make matters worse, AHS-Newark illegally killed surrendered animals at the shelter and its clinic next door. Clearly, AHS-Newark has no respect for life since it can’t wait a mere seven days to kill animals.

1.10 (a) 1. and N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.16 Many animals were being euthanized before being held the required 7 days after intake or impoundment. Records showed that stray and surrendered animals that were received at the facility by animal control officers and other individuals were being euthanized within the mandatory 7 day holding period. Stray impounded animals are required to be held at least 7 days to provide an opportunity for owners to reclaim their lost pets. Examples of animals euthanized within the required 7 day holding period include but were not limited to the following ID numbers: 22392, 22393, 22394, 22395, 22396, 22397, 22398, 22399, 22400, 23831, 22847, 22856, 23999, 24000, 22684, 23708, 23732, 23733, 19517, 22937, 22945, 22944, and 22936.

Animals were also being accepted for elective euthanasia and were being euthanized on intake. Although the animals were being taken to the medical ward section of the facility for euthanasia to be performed, the owner of the animal was paying the euthanasia fees directly to the animal facility at the front desk. The veterinary medical ward is not a separate entity from the animal shelter and impoundment facility. In the case of an owner surrender, the facility is required to offer the animal for adoption for at least 7 days before euthanizing it, or may transfer the animal to an animal rescue organization facility or a foster home prior to offering it for adoption if such transfer is determined to be in the best interest of the animal by the shelter or pound.

Records Suggest Killing and Euthanasia May Not Be Humane

AHS-Newark violated various euthanasia provisions of state law. Specifically, AHS-Newark did not:

  1. Post proper written euthanasia/killing instructions to assist people in conducting the procedure humanely
  2. Weigh animals prior to killing/euthanasia to ensure animals received proper doses of sedatives and killing agents
  3. Specify the method of killing/euthanasia

If AHS-Newark failed to provide enough sedatives, animals could experience emotional distress. Similarly, if AHS-Newark did not provide enough Fatal Plus and verify the animals’ deaths, animals potentially could have been placed into the facility’s incinerator while still alive.

1.11 (f) Written instructions were not posted in the euthanasia area that included the dosages by weight in pounds of all euthanasia, immobilizing, and tranquilizing agents used at the facility. Animals were not being weighed prior to administration of euthanasia, immobilizing, or tranquilizing agents. The weight recorded on an animal’s record at the time of intake was being used to calculate the dosages of these substances, but the weight on intake may not be the same weight of the animal at the time it is euthanized. Euthanasia records were not maintained that contained the body weight and dosage of all euthanasia, immobilizing, and tranquilizing agents administered to each animal. Dosage and usage logs were being maintained in a euthanasia log book, but this information was not available in the records reviewed by inspectors at the time of this inspection as required. (See 1.13 for more details.)

1.13 (a) Inspectors went to the medical ward of the facility and were provided with a stack of euthanasia records for animals that had been euthanized at the facility within the past month, but these records did not include the intake information and the description of the animals as required. The inspectors were unable to correlate the intake information and record numbers of animals that were obtained at the front desk to most of these euthanasia records. The weight of the animals was not being recorded on these paper records and the method of euthanasia, such as IV, IC, or IP, was not recorded in these records. Some of the euthanasia records were also missing the amount of euthanasia and tranquilizing agents that had been administered to these animals in addition to the species and description of these animals that had been euthanized.

Dead Animals Treated Like Trash

According to the inspection report, AHS-Newark had “bags of dead animal carcasses” next to the outside portion of its dog enclosures and close to its incinerator. Clearly, these bodies were outside for a long period of time since “a swarm of flies” were around the corpses. To make matters worse, more carcasses were dumped along with actual trash in a shopping cart just like the 2009 inspection report found. What kind of terror did the live dogs in the nearby enclosures feel with this stench of death in the air?

1.3 (d) There were bags of dead animal carcasses that had attracted a swarm of flies and were placed inside the gate adjacent to the dogs housed in the outdoor enclosures. These bags were stored outside of the walk-in refrigeration unit in the fenced area where the incinerator is located. There were additional bags of carcasses and trash stored in a red shopping cart in this same area that were also covered with flies.




AHS-Newark Allows Disease to Spread Like Wildfire

Despite AHS taking in over $9 million of revenue last year, AHS-Newark failed to have a a supervising veterinarian establish a legally required written disease control and adequate health care program. Prescribed medicines were not administered to animals or given improperly according to shelter documents.

1.9 (a) The supervising veterinarian had not established a written disease control and adequate health care program at the facility and a disease control program was not being sufficiently maintained under the supervision of the veterinarian. Medications that had been prescribed by the veterinarian were not being documented as being administered as prescribed on the prescription label. Daily medication administration logs were missing several days, indicating that the medication may not have been administered on those days; daily medication logs were not being maintained and were not available on the shelter side of the facility; a prescription label for enrofloxacin prescribed to a dog with ID number 23466, stated to administer one tablet per day, but the medical chart on the computer stated twice per day.

The inspection report noted AHS-Newark did not separate sick animals from healthy ones. Isolating sick animals with contagious diseases is the cornerstone of any disease control program. In a shelter environment, one sick animal can quickly infect dozens more.

Shockingly, AHS-Newark did not provide veterinary care to a number of sick animals. Instead, it allowed a poor “listless” dog with “thick green nasal discharge” to sit in the main kennels. The animal caretaker in charge of medical care’s response? The dog “doesn’t look sick now.” Even worse, AHS-Newark kept dogs awaiting spay/neuter surgeries with coughing dogs having various contagious diseases. Since AHS-Newark typically only spays/neuters animals after someone adopts a pet, many adopters may have received a dog who was sick.

1.9 (f) Animals with signs of a communicable disease were not separated from other healthy animals and placed in an isolation room in order to minimize dissemination of such disease. Dogs that were said to have been diagnosed with Kennel Cough Complex by the supervising veterinarian and were prescribed medications, were housed in the general population. A brindle pit mix housed in kennel number 124 in the main kennel area of the facility, appeared listless and had thick green nasal discharge (pictures 3105 and 3106). This dog was not seen by a veterinarian and was not receiving medical care and was not moved to an isolation room. When this dog was pointed out by the inspector to the animal caretaker in charge of medical care, the caretaker stated that the dog “does not look sick now.” Animals in the general medical ward room, including one of the larger dogs that was heard coughing, were prescribed treatment for various illnesses and communicable diseases, but there were also healthy animals housed in this room that were awaiting spay or neuter surgeries before being released to their adoptive families.

3105 pt 2.jpg

3106 pt 2.jpg

Even worse, AHS-Newark failed to even treat sick animals in the general population. If spreading disease to other animals was not bad enough, the inspectors specifically stated “animals exhibiting signs of stress were not provided any type of relief.”

Animals that were exhibiting signs of illness were housed with the general population and several animals that were being housed in the basement isolation room were not reported to and were not under the care of the supervising veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs of stress were not provided with any type of relief. The disease control protocols established for the highly contagious isolation room located in the medical ward section of the facility were not being adhered to by the animal caretakers. (See 1.9 (d) through (h) for details.) There were signs on the door to two cat rooms that stated do not use until approved by Dr. Reich (the supervising veterinarian) but the manager and staff stated that they did not know why those signs were placed on the doors and why those rooms could not be used.

AHS-Newark staff allowed disease to spread from the isolation area to the rest of the facility. Animal shelter employees must wear various protective clothing and gear to avoid transmitting highly contagious diseases to healthy animals. Despite clear written instructions on the wall outside the isolation area, the AHS-Newark animal caretaker wore their gloves in the isolation area and outside of this space. In fact, this person even walked into the general medical area with these gloves exposed to highly contagious diseases. To make matters worse, the animal caretaker also took two water bowls from the isolation area to the general medical ward and the person stated they hose off litter boxes from the isolation area outside. Thus, AHS-Newark created conditions for disease to rapidly spread through and outside the facility.

1.9 (f) 1. There was a sign posted on the wall outside of the highly contagious isolation room located at the end of the hallway in the medical ward area of the facility that contained instructions and procedures to control the dissemination of disease. The sign listed two veterinarians to contact for questions, but neither of these veterinarians were listed as the supervising veterinarian for the facility. The animal caretaker that was cleaning the cages in this highly contagious isolation room was not adhering to the posted instructions. The instructions stated to wear personal protective equipment, including gowns and shoe coverings and gloves, and to remove PPE when leaving the room. The person that was cleaning this room on the day of this inspection left the room several times during the cleaning process, and was not wearing gowns or shoe coverings as instructed on the sign. This person did not remove gloves before leaving this room and walked to the restroom to fill a water bowl, touching the door handle with the used gloves on, and later walked to the general medical ward room at the other end of the hallway to use the utility sink and again to get paper for the cages in the highly contagious isolation room. When questioned, the animal caretaker stated that bowls from this highly contagious isolation room are cleaned in the utility sink located in the general medical ward room and litter boxes are taken outdoors and hosed off and cleaned outside. This practice of cleaning litter receptacles and other items outdoors, both from the isolation rooms and the general population creates the potential for disease transmission to the outside of the facility.

AHS-Newark locked up feral cats in a hidden prison. According to inspectors, the room’s glass walls were completely covered with cardboard preventing people from looking inside. Furthermore, inspectors couldn’t even see inside after removing the cardboard due to accumulated filth.

1.9 (d) Cats that were difficult to handle and classified as “feral” cats were housed in enclosures that contained glass walls that were completely covered with cardboard and newspapers. These cats could not be observed for signs of disease, illness or stress. When the inspectors pulled off a portion of the cardboard to try and view these cats, the glass beneath was too dirty to see through clearly. This enclosure door contained a padlock so the inspectors were unable to open the door to get a better view of the cats and the conditions inside this enclosure.

To make matters worse, the shelter provided no hiding boxes, soft bedding, resting benches and individual housing compartments to allow these cats to hide from other cats in order to relieve stress. Stressed cats are more likely to contract diseases. Simply put, AHS-Newark threw so-called feral cats into this room until they met their fate (presumably killing).

1.9 (d)2. The hiding boxes that had previously been used in the “feral” cat enclosures were removed due to deterioration and had not been replaced with alternate suitable hiding boxes. There were approximately 27 cats housed in one of these enclosures and these cats were not provided with soft bedding and hiding places, resting benches, or individual housing compartments to hide from other cats in the same enclosure in order to relieve stress.

AHS-Newark’s dog enclosures were kept in such disrepair that staff could not disinfect these places. Therefore, once disease spread from the isolation area or other places, the dog kennels probably became and stayed infected. If that wasn’t bad enough, AHS-Newark’s food storage area was also prone to harboring disease for the same reasons.

1.4 (f) The interior surfaces of the main dog kennel enclosures and throughout the facility were in severe disrepair. The layers of accumulated peeling paint and broken concrete in the animal enclosures and throughout the facility created crevices that were unable to be readily cleaned and disinfected. The food storage room had holes in the walls at the floor that had been filled with expanding foam. This foam was not cut back, leveled, and covered with an appropriate product to create a smooth surface before being painted which resulted in numerous nooks and crannies that could not be readily cleaned and disinfected.


To make matters worse, cats in group housing resided in rooms with carpeted cat trees that contained accumulations of dried feces or vomit.

There were carpeted cat trees and sisal rope cat scratchers in the communal cat rooms that contained an accumulation of hair and dried feces or vomit. These cat trees and rope items cannot be cleaned and disinfected and need to be removed and replaced with suitable items as discussed with the manager at the time of this inspection. The window ledge in the communal cat room was in disrepair and was unable to be readily cleaned and disinfected; the caulking was in disrepair at the viewing window ledge and needed to be resealed.

AHS-Newark also may have provided contaminated food to animals. The shelter did not scrub off particles on food and water bowls. Water dispensing devices had accumulated grime. In the basement isolation area sink, AHS-Newark had a bowl of food with black mold growth. One has to wonder how long this food bowl sat there.

1.7 (e) and (h) Animal food bowls were not being scrubbed clean before being disinfected. Food and water bowls were emptied and sprayed down with a disinfectant, but were not scrubbed clean before the disinfectant was applied. There were food particles left on the inside surfaces of the food buckets after the disinfecting process and there was an accumulation of grime on the automatic waterers that the inspector was able to scrape off with her fingernail after the disinfecting process was completed. The manufacturer’s instructions for this disinfectant requires that food contact surfaces be scrubbed before disinfection and the instructions state “Then thoroughly scrub all treated surfaces with soap or detergent and rinse with potable water before reuse.” These food and water receptacles were not being scrubbed with a soap or detergent appropriate for food contact surfaces followed by a thorough rinse with potable water after this disinfectant was applied.

The utility sink located in the basement isolation room contained stainless steel bowls that had not been cleaned. There was a large serving spoon in one of these bowls that had caked on food, and the food in the bowl appeared to have signs of decomposition and black mold growth.


Similarly, AHS-Newark’s food storage area was a disaster. According to the inspection report, the shelter did not regularly clean this area and it accumulated spilled food, pigeon feathers and other debris.

The food storage room was not being cleaned regularly and there was an accumulation of spilled food, trash, pigeon feathers, and debris under and between the bags and boxes of stored food. The areas between and under the roll out banks of stainless steel caging contained an accumulation of dirt, trash and debris and were not being cleaned.


If all of this was not bad enough, AHS-Newark did not even clean its kennels properly. Specifically, the geniuses at AHS-Newark sprayed disinfectant in kennels before removing all the feces. Even after using a rake to remove the feces, they did not remove “a thick layer of feces that remained on these surfaces.” Thus, the shelter did not disinfect the animal enclosures.

1.8 (c) Enclosures were not being thoroughly cleaned and rinsed as required by the manufacturer’s instructions before the disinfectant was applied to non-food contact surfaces. The disinfectant was being sprayed into the kennel enclosures before the feces were removed from these enclosures. The animal caretakers were instructed to scoop the feces from the enclosures, but after they scooped with a rake, there was still a thick layer of feces that remained on these surfaces that was not scrubbed off and rinsed away before a fresh application of disinfectant was applied. The manufacturer’s instructions state “Thoroughly clean all surfaces with soap or detergent and rinse with water. Apply fresh Use Solution to floors, walls, cages and other washable hard, non-porous environmental surfaces.”


AHS-Newark Leaves Animals in Inhumane Conditions

AHS-Newark left a live skunk in unspeakably cruel conditions. According to the inspection report, the shelter picked up a live skunk at 7:00 am or 7:30 am and subsequently left the animal in direct sun in a blanket covered carrier on a concrete surface with air temperatures as hot as 87 degrees. The inspector found the animal at 11:20 am. Undoubtedly, the actual temperature inside the carrier was hotter since it was on a concrete surface. To add insult to injury, AHS-Newark left the skunk next to a bag of dead animals and an incinerator. The shelter effectively left the animal to die in these hot temperatures and allowed the skunk to sense its fate with the bag of slaughtered animals and incinerator close by. The AHS manager initially told the inspector no animal was in the carrier, but when the inspector showed them the skunk, the AHS manager stated the skunk was dead. Would AHS-Newark have placed this live animal into the incinerator if the inspector was not there? Only after the inspector notified shelter personnel did AHS-Newark move the skunk to a cooler place. What medical care did AHS-Newark ultimately provide? Killing later that day.

1.5 (a) A live skunk was found inside a small animal carrier which was completely covered with a heavy, black and white heather blanket and placed in direct sunlight on a concrete surface. The outside air temperature was approximately 85 to 87 degrees Fahrenheit at the time the skunk was found by the inspector at approximately 11:20 AM. This skunk was found adjacent to a bag of dead animal carcasses in the fenced area between the outdoor animal enclosures where the incinerator is located. When questioned, the manager stated that the carrier was empty, but when the inspector lifted the blanket and saw the skunk, the manager said the skunk was dead. The inspector told the manager that the skunk was alive and needed to be moved immediately out of the direct sunlight and placed in a cool location. The manager moved the skunk over several feet out of the direct sun and shortly after, the skunk was placed in the hallway of the building and was euthanized later that day. Records indicated that this skunk was picked up at 7:00 or 7:30 AM that morning (report shows 7:00 AM over written with 7:30).



The shelter left a poodle in an enclosure on cardboard instead of proper bedding. As a result, the animal had urine soaked fur on its rear end and could not remain dry and clean.

1.6 (a) 4. A white poodle type dog housed in the small dog room had urine soaked fur on its rump and its legs and was unable to remain dry and clean. A large sheet of cardboard was being used as bedding in some of the small animal enclosures, which may be sufficient for cats that are provided with a separate litter receptacle, but this cardboard is not readily absorbent and liquids bead up long enough for the animals contained in these enclosures to become contaminated.


AHS-Newark housed a mastiff in such a small enclosure that the animal could not turn about freely and lie in a comfortable position.

1.6 (a) 6. There was a large black mastiff type dog, ID number 23294, housed in a small enclosure, cage number 176, located against the back wall of the main basement housing area. This enclosure did not provide sufficient space for this dog to turn about freely and to lie in a comfortable normal position.

If this dog did not endure enough torture, the poor creature was left in the dark. How dark was his kennel? During the day, the inspectors could only see a reflection of the animal’s eyes and a shaded figure from outside the enclosure.

1.4 (d) There were lighting fixtures that needed repair throughout the facility, including the lighting fixture in the basement above enclosure number 176 that housed a large, black mastiff type dog. The lighting in this enclosure was insufficient and only the reflection of the eyes and a shaded figure of the dog could be seen from the front of this enclosure. (This dog can be seen in picture 3159 because of the camera flash.)


Animals other than cats and dogs did not escape AHS-Newark’s neglect. According to the inspection report, the exotic animal room contained an “accumulation of rabbit feces and urine” and “most of this feces and urine had dried and adhered to these surfaces.”

The room where the exotic animals were housed contained an accumulation of rabbit feces and urine on the walls, on the electrical outlet, behind the filing cabinet and on the floors and baseboards around and under the rabbit enclosures and the filing cabinet. Most of this feces and urine had dried and adhered to these surfaces. There were white urine stains from the rabbits that had dried and set on the floor tiles surrounding these rabbit enclosures. The bars of these cages and the wheels contained an accumulation of feces and other dirt and debris and were not being cleaned and disinfected daily as required.


AHS-Newark also failed to properly exercise dogs residing in small kennels as required by law. To make matters worse, AHS-Newark did not even allow dogs with a “vicious disposition” in the basement or in the small dog room to go for walks or to exercise in larger dog runs at all.

1.6 (h) Adult dogs confined in cages of less than double the minimum standard size were not being exercised in runs at least twice a day or walked on a leash for at least 20 minutes per day. Dogs housed in the basement enclosures and dogs housed in the small dog and cat room were not provided with runs to exercise and only some of these animals were being walked on a leash daily. The few dogs that were walked on a leash were said to be provided with a maximum of 5 to 10 minutes of walking time and there was not enough staff available to walk each dog for at least 20 minutes per day. Dogs with a vicious disposition that were housed in the basement or the small dog and cat room were not walked at all and did not have access to an exercise run.

AHS-Newark left several ill and injured dogs in enclosures without providing veterinary care. Two dogs appeared to have blood in their urine, one dog had diarrhea and vomited, and a third dog had an open wound on its paw. Even several dogs in the so-called basement isolation area did not receive veterinary care.

1.9 (d)1. Two dogs housed in the main dog kennel area appeared to have blood in their urine (pictures 3098 and 3099) and a shepherd type dog, ID number 23882, housed in the general housing area of the basement had diarrhea and had vomited its food. A white bully type dog had an open wound on its paw and there was no evidence that this dog was provided with medical care (picture 3157). Several animals that were housed in the basement isolation room were exhibiting signs of illness but the manager stated that these dogs had not yet been seen by a veterinarian and were not receiving medical treatment. Examples include ID numbers 23694, 23090, and 23572. Numerous animals housed in the medical ward holding room were prescribed medication, but the medical treatment logs were incomplete. Examples include, but were not limited to, ID numbers 23063, 22870, and 23378.

3098 pt 2



AHS-Newark’s housing facilities were deplorable. According to the inspection report, “there were holes in walls in numerous rooms large enough for rodents to traverse.” Additionally, the inspection report noted “concrete flooring and block walls were in severe disrepair throughout the entire facility, with large cracks and chunks of missing concrete.” AHS-Newark even left “a large chain-link gate balanced on top of the outdoor dog enclosures; a strip of welded wire hardware cloth with exposed sharp pointed wires” hanging over the outdoor dog enclosures with a bowl, a bottle and other debris on top of these kennels. Simply put, AHS allowed its Newark facility to fall apart despite taking in around $8 million of revenue on average each year for the last decade.

1.3 (a) The housing facilities for animals were in disrepair. There were holes in the walls in numerous rooms that were large enough for rodents to traverse. Concrete flooring and block walls were in severe disrepair throughout the entire facility, with large cracks and chunks of missing concrete. The concrete flooring was peeling off in sheets. There was a large chain-link gate balanced on top of the outdoor dog enclosures; a strip of welded wire hardware cloth with exposed sharp pointed wires was hanging over the outdoor enclosures; and a bowl, a bottle with unknown contents and other items and debris were found on top of these animal enclosures. There were screws protruding from the wall in the “feral” cat enclosure where the original hiding boxes had been removed.



In fact, the inspectors appeared concerned that a wall located at the door to the exterior kennels could collapse.

There was a large structural crack near the upper portion of the wall located at the door to the exterior kennels, where the concrete blocks or cinder blocks had separated and moved away from the inside wall. The attendant stated that this wall had not been evaluated by a qualified engineer and it was not determined if the wall would collapse.

The inspection report noted numerous facility problems that could injure animals. In the following example, AHS-Newark left damaged dog beds in enclosures that had exposed screws and sharp edges.

1.6 (a) 7. Many of the raised dog beds had damaged metal and plastic hardware that join the legs to the frame and support the beds. This hardware had exposed screws and sharp edges that could cause injury to the dogs. Some of these beds had damaged areas with sharp points from broken plastic legs and other chewed areas that could cause injury to the dogs.

Similarly, another dog enclosure contained a drainage pipe with no cover that could injure a dog’s legs:

1.6 (a) 2. There was a large, round, open drainage pipe in an outdoor dog enclosure that was missing a cover, which left an opening in the floor. This hole could cause leg injuries to the dogs housed in this enclosure.

The shelter’s main and outdoor dog kennels were exposed to water. HVAC vents were leaking water in the main dog kennel area. Water leaked from an air handling unit in the basement into an animal enclosure. Runoff from clogged gutters overflowed into the outside dog area. Therefore, dogs were housed in areas exposed to leaking water.

The air conditioning system was not being properly maintained or had not been properly installed to control water runoff from the various units. Water was leaking from the inside of the HVAC vents in the main dog kennel area; water was leaking from the air handling unit in the basement into an animal enclosure; and there was a heavy stream of water from an unknown source that was flowing off the roof into the gutter. The gutter was clogged with debris and this runoff was overflowing into the outside dog kennel area.

AHS-Newark’s ventilation systems had systemic problems. Despite the inspection taking place in August, AHS-Newark provided insufficient ventilation to dogs housed in the basement. Ventilation systems in other areas were filthy and/or in disrepair.

1.4 (c) The ventilation in the basement was insufficient to provide for the health and comfort of the animals housed in these rooms. The large exhaust fan in the general animal housing area of the basement was not being used at the time of this inspection, and the ventilation that was previously installed had been disconnected. The vent cover in the isolation room was cracked and contained an accumulation of dirt and debris. The ventilation covers in the general housing areas and other rooms throughout the facility also contained an accumulation of dirt and debris and needed to be cleaned. The plastic ventilation duct connected to the portable ventilation unit in the isolation room was improperly installed and was hooked to a piece of welded wire hardware cloth that was covering what appeared to be an obscured basement window opening. There was a piece of plexiglass type of plastic partially covering this window opening on the inside, in front of the hardware cloth.

The shelter’s basement, which houses dogs, had debris with “a long, roundworm like appearance” and other debris that had “the appearance of soaked rodent droppings.”

There was an accumulation of unrecognizable debris, some of which had a long, roundworm like appearance (possibly fibers of some sort), intertwined with small oblong pieces of debris that had the appearance of soaked rodent droppings. This debris had accumulated in the far corner under the utility sink located against the front wall in the basement.

If that was not bad enough, the upper storage area above the inside dogs kennels had “an excessive accumulation of rodent droppings.” Not only did AHS-Newark dogs have to live in poor conditions, but they had large amounts of rodent feces nearby.

There was an accumulation of rodent droppings in an upper storage area over the inside dog kennels and an excessive accumulation of rodent droppings in the long florescent light fixture in this same area.

Why did the shelter harbor so many rodents? The inspection report notes pet food was spilled all over the facility. Furthermore, AHS-Newark kept bags of donated food in a “haphazard” pile 3 to 4 feet high against a wall that facilitated rodent infestations.

1.3 (c) Food was spilled on top of food bags and on the floor between the wooden pallets in the food storage area located in the basement. Pieces of kibble were also found spilled in numerous locations throughout the facility, including in rooms that were not being used. Kibble was found between the fins of the baseboard radiators and under these radiators, under cages, in corners, behind storage items, inside cages that were said to have been cleaned, and there were pieces of kibble found next to rodent bait stations.

Bags of dry food that were said to have been recently donated were stored haphazardly in a pile approximately 3 to 4 feet high and touching the wall in the basement food storage room. Bags of purchased food were also stored against the wall. Food should be stored away from the wall and in a manner to facilitate cleaning in and around the bags of food, to prevent rodent harborage and infestation and to allow for sufficient ventilation to prevent moisture accumulation and molding of food.



Improper Intake and Disposition Records Raise Concerns of More Killing

The inspection report noted AHS-Newark failed to include the ultimate disposition of a number of animals in its records. In other words, we don’t know what happened to these creatures. If AHS-Newark failed to record what happens to all of its animals, its kill rate may be higher than it reports.

1.13 (a) Computer records were being maintained, but staff was unable to access certain disposition records, including the required euthanasia documentation, and the paper records were incomplete. Inspectors were provided with a stack of paper intake records for animals received at the facility for the past month, but these records did not include the disposition records for these animals, and the inspectors were not provided computer access to review the records for these animals. A few records were selected by inspectors and the office staff could provide the disposition information for a small number of animals, but most of this information and the details were not readily available and the euthanasia information was inaccessible to the staff at the front desk.

NJ SPCA Must File Large Numbers of Animal Cruelty Charges

AHS-Newark committed atrocities against its animals on a massive scale. Frankly, I’ve never seen any New Jersey animal shelter treat animals this badly. Given this blog reported heinous conditions at many other state shelters, this says a lot. From leaving a skunk in a covered carrier during a hot August day next to dead animals and an incinerator, to leaving ill and injured animals to suffer, to allowing highly contagious diseases to spread, to illegally killing animals during the seven day protection period, to possibly killing animals inhumanely, to having dead bodies in bags and a shopping cart for apparently long periods of time near an area housing live dogs, to leaving animals in conditions where they could injure themselves, AHS-Newark proved over and over again that it must be brought to justice.

Most troubling, the inspection report found the same problems, and even some new ones, documented in the 2003 SCI report and the horrific 2009 and 2011 New Jersey Department of Health inspection reports. Roseann Trezza was the Executive Director during the 2009 and 2011 inspections and was Assistant Executive Director when the SCI issued their report. Simply put, the NJ SPCA must throw the book at Roseann Trezza. This woman should not work with animals let alone lead the state’s largest animal sheltering organization. In the past, the NJ SPCA never went after AHS. Perhaps, this was due to former NJ SPCA Deputy Chief and Board President, Terrence Clark, also being Assistant Executive Director of AHS at the time? Whatever the reason, the NJ SPCA must act strongly if it wants to keep what little credibility it has left.

Municipalities Must Terminate Contracts with AHS

AHS-Newark contracting cities and towns can no longer fund this out of control house of horrors. While taxpayers should not support a high kill shelter, they should never pay an entity repeatedly violating state law on a massive scale. If the elected officials do not terminate their contracts with AHS-Newark, their political opponents should make this a campaign issue by running ads with the elected officials’ photos and pictures and language from this inspection report. Simply put, taxpayers should not have to tolerate spending their money on an organization treating animals like literal garbage over and over.

While some people may worry about shelter capacity issues if these municipalities leave AHS-Newark, this is not a significant problem. As I’ve documented in other blogs here and here, the state’s animal shelter system has more than enough space to absorb AHS-Newark’s animals if shelters’ use their full capacity and move animals into safe outcomes as quickly as other good animal control shelters. Specifically, all the municipalities, other than the City of Newark, are not large and do not have too many homeless animals. In the case of the City of Newark, it could request the New Jersey Department of Health to allow Newark to send its animals to several facilities in order to not overwhelm any single one.

At the same time, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka must re-start former Mayor Booker’s project to build a new no kill shelter in the city. While the City of Newark whould never have been in this position if it started building the shelter as planned in 2013, it now has all the justification it needs to take on this initiative.

Residents in the following municipalities should contact their mayors using the information below and demand they terminate their arrangements with AHS-Newark.

Belleville: (973) 450-3345
Carteret: (732) 541-3801
Clark: (732) 388-3600
Fanwood: (908)-322-8236, ext. 124; mayor@fanwoodnj.org
Hillside:(973) 926-3000
Newark: (973) 733-6400; https://www.newarknj.gov/contact-us
Irvington: (973) 399-8111
Linden: (908) 474-8493; darmstead@linden-nj.org
Fairfield: (973) 882-2700; jgasparini@fairfieldnj.org
Orange: (973) 266-4005
Plainfield: (908) 753-3000; adrian.mapp@plainfieldnj.gov
Roselle: (908) 956-5557; cdansereau@boroughofroselle.com
Rahway: 732-827-2009; mayor@cityofrahway.com
Winfield Park: (908) 925-3850

New Jersey Department of Health Must Inspect AHS-Tinton Falls and AHS-Popcorn Park

Given the massive problems at AHS-Newark, one has to also wonder how AHS-Tinton Falls and AHS-Popcorn Park operate. The New Jersey Department of Health has not inspected these other facilities in recent years. As a result, we need to know if AHS-Newark’s problems also occur at its sister shelters.

State Agencies Must Replace the Entire AHS Board and Executive Leadership

The AHS Board of Directors allowed Roseann Trezza to operate her facility without effective oversight. Roseann Trezza is the President of the Board of Directors. Furthermore, many of the AHS board members are employees/former employees or have other potential conflicts of interest that seriously question their ability to oversee this failing organization. Thus, the AHS board failed over and over to fix their organization’s catastrophic problems.

After the SCI released its 2003 report on AHS, AHS Executive Director Lee Bernstein resigned and Roseann Trezza took over. However, as we’ve seen over and over during the last 14 years, all of the awful AHS leadership needed to go.

As such, the various state agencies overseeing AHS should do everything in their power to force AHS to replace its entire leadership team and Board of Directors. Despite these massive issues, including significant structural issues potentially requiring a new facility, AHS has made statement to the press giving lame excuses and portraying that its well on its way to solving the catastrophic problems. Clearly, this organization is not serious about improving itself to any significant degree. If AHS wants to continue operating animal shelters, it must change its entire organization and not make a few minor tweaks as its recent Facebook post about the inspection implied. Creating a commission with no kill leaders and other innovative figures in the animal welfare movement can help put the right people in charge of the state’s largest animal sheltering organization. As a result, we can transform AHS-Newark from a house of horrors into a temporary home that provides love, elite care, and new lives to all healthy and treatable animals.

Associated Humane Societies-Newark’s Horrible Handling of Irvington’s Homeless Animals

Last year, I analyzed a large number of records for animals coming into Associated Humane Societies-Newark during 2014. These records, which primarily consisted of animals coming in from animal control in Newark, revealed massive killing and incompetence at this so-called “shelter.” Overall, 93% of cats, 70% of dogs, and 81% of pit bull like dogs with known outcomes in this data set lost their lives at AHS-Newark.

Did AHS-Newark change for the better in 2015? Does AHS-Newark save a lot more animals coming in from other municipalities? Do animals coming in from animal control fare worse than dogs and cats arriving at the shelter from other sources?

Detailed Analysis Conducted 

To get a better understanding of AHS-Newark’s handling of animals, I submitted an OPRA request to the City of Irvington’s Health Department seeking intake and disposition records of all Irvington animals, such as strays and owner surrenders, AHS-Newark impounded during the first 9 or so months in 2015. After much follow-up over a period of several months, I received AHS-Newark’s underlying intake and disposition records for these animals. Unfortunately, AHS-Newark refused to honor subsequent OPRA requests for records of animals coming in during the last three or so months of 2015.

In total, I obtained around 300 animal records and it took me several weeks to review and summarize this information. Many of these records were for wildlife, animals leaving before animal control officers arrived, and animals that were dead by the time the animal control officer got to the location. Overall, I reviewed the intake and disposition records of 89 cats and 93 dogs that AHS-Newark impounded from Irvington in 2015.

I reviewed each record and summarized my findings. My summary included the animal’s ID number, species, breed, origin (stray, owner surrender, confiscated by authorities), intake date, outcome date, length of stay, outcome, reasons for killing, miscellaneous information, and any comments I had.

Underlying Records Reveal Mass Killing

The sheer number and percentage of Irvington animals losing their lives at AHS-Newark is staggering. Overall, AHS-Newark killed 75% of the cats, 60% of the dogs and 74% of the pit bull like dogs that had outcomes in this data set. These kill rates were only slightly lower than the kill rates from my 2014 data set for Newark animals where AHS-Newark killed 83% of cats, 67% of dogs and 79% of pit bull like dogs. Furthermore, if I add Irvington animals who died at AHS-Newark, 83% of cats, 60% of dogs and 74% of pit bull like dogs lost their lives in this data set at AHS-Newark. As a comparison, 93% of cats, 70% of dogs and 81% of pit bull like dogs lost their lives in the 2014 data set for Newark animals. To put it another way, 62 out of 75 cats, 46 out of 77 dogs, and 32 out of 43 pit bull like dogs who had outcomes lost their lives per these Irvington records. As a result, these records indicate AHS-Newark operated more like a death camp than an animal shelter for the dogs and cats coming to the facility from Irvington during the first 9 months of 2015.

The percentage of dogs and cats losing their lives increases if we only consider the animals AHS-Newark had to shelter for more than a short period of time. Typically, shelters quickly return dogs and cats to their owners since such animals usually are licensed and/or have microchips. Therefore, shelters have to do little work to return these animals to their families. If I calculate the death rate excluding owner-reclaims, 83% of cats, 68% of dogs and 82% of pit bull like dogs lost their lives in this data set. In other words more than 2 out of 3 dogs and 4 out 5 pit bull like dogs and cats not reclaimed by owners lost their lives in this data set. Thus, AHS-Newark operated more like a pet killing factory than an animal shelter for Irvington’s homeless dogs and cats during the first 9 months of 2015.

AHS-Newark’s kill and death rates for dogs may actually be higher. Of the 22 unclaimed dogs safely making it out of AHS-Newark, 16 of these animals were transferred to AHS-Tinton Falls and AHS-Popcorn Park. Similarly, 6 of the 7 unclaimed pit bull like dogs leaving AHS-Newark alive went to AHS-Tinton Falls and AHS-Popcorn Park. AHS-Tinton Falls and AHS-Popcorn Park do not operate their shelters under a no kill philosophy and it is possible some of these dogs lost their lives at these other AHS facilities. Thus, AHS-Newark’s statistics may even be worse than the charts below indicate.

AHS-Newark’s adoption statistics in this data set were abysmal. Specifically, AHS-Newark only adopted out 8% of its cats, 4% of its dogs, and 0% of its pit bull like dogs in this data set. In fact, AHS-Newark only adopted out 9% of its small dogs in this data set. AHS-Newark poor adoption policies, which include normal dog adoption fees of $200 or more, requiring notarized letters from landlords when leases are silent about pets, and requiring existing dogs meet dogs at the facility, hamper the shelter’s ability to adopt out animals. In addition, the large number of animals receiving inadequate physical and behavioral care and the overall poor customer service at the shelter also hurt adoption efforts. Thus, AHS-Newark needs to overhaul their policies to increase adoptions.

Irvington’s overall 2015 statistics and the animal control only data were nearly identical. This suggests the horrific Newark statistics, which were primarily animals coming in from animal control, I reviewed last year may be similar to the overall Newark statistics.

AHS Irvington 2015 Dog and Cat StatsAHS Irvington 2015 Pit Bulls and Small Dogs Stats

AHS-Newark’s length of stay data reveals the shelter’s poor performance. First and foremost, AHS-Newark killed cats in this data set after just 12 days on average. Overall, AHS-Newark’s dog length of stay figures indicated animals resided way too long at the shelter. For example, despite the shelter only adopting out 4 out of 93 dogs, AHS-Newark still took nearly 7 weeks on average to adopt those few animals out. Additionally, AHS-Newark’s dog average length of stay figure may actually be higher since the shelter had significant numbers of animals that were in the ending population and transferred to other AHS shelters. Therefore, these animals likely spent additional time in an AHS shelter. Finally, even this data set’s small dogs, which typically fly out of shelters, spent 49 days on average at AHS-Newark. The 49 day average length of stay figure understates the time spent at AHS shelters since more than half of these dogs went to another AHS shelter after leaving the Newark facility or were in the ending population at AHS-Newark. Thus, AHS-Newark quickly killed cats and took way too long to safely place dogs in this data set.

AHS Irvington 2015 LOS Data

AHS Irvington 2015 LOS Data Pits and Small Dogs

Poor Reasons for Killing

AHS-Newark killed many healthy and treatable animals. AHS-Newark’s top three reasons for killing cats were as follows:

  1. Feral/Aggressive
  2. Sick
  3. Ringworm

On March 8, 2015 an Irvington resident surrendered two cats named Benny and Jet to AHS-Newark due to the person being unable to care for the animals. Despite the cats having a previous home, AHS-Newark labeled the cats as “feral” and killed the two animals 9 days later.

cat ID 132712Cat ID 132713

On May 4, 2015 Cat ID# 134247 arrived at AHS-Newark “covered in motor oil and gasoline.” Despite this cat’s obvious trauma, AHS-Newark stated this cat “WILL BITE” and killed her 17 days after coming into the shelter. The shelter did note it was able to give the cat a bath. No rehabilitation efforts were documented on the record below. A recent study found gradual touching and petting and talking in a soft voice is highly effective at socializing so-called aggressive cats. Thus, AHS-Newark appeared to do little to save this traumatized cat.

Cat id 134247.jpg

On May 8, 2015, AHS-Newark impounded a female cat and two kittens from an address in Irvington. The 7 year and 5 month old black cat (Cat ID# 134396), which may have been the mother of the two 7 month old black kittens, was killed by AHS-Newark 11 days later. AHS-Newark killed the female kitten, Cat ID# 134395, two minutes later. Three minutes after AHS-Newark killed the female kitten, the shelter killed the male kitten (Cat ID# 134394). Frankly, I wonder how close these kittens were to each other and the mother prior to their killing given the short time between killing each animal. If the animals were in fact near each other and were a family, I can only imagine the horror these kittens were in prior to AHS-Newark poisoning them to death.

Cat ID134396

Cat ID 134394.jpg


AHS-Newark took in Cat ID# 131808 from an Irvington resident who found her on January 16, 2015. After just 8 days, AHS-Newark killed the cat for having an upper respiratory infection that was “not improving.” Nothing in the “Health Records” on the document below indicate any specific treatment for the URI beyond the vaccinations on the day this 12 month old cat arrived at AHS-Newark. Furthermore, the record provides no documentation that AHS-Newark tried to place this cat in a foster home or with a rescue prior to killing her.

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Kathleen was surrendered to AHS-Newark on March 26, 2015 due to her owner moving out of state. According to the record below, Kathleen’s owner stated the 9 year and 7 month old cat never went outside. While its unclear from the record where Kathleen caught a URI, I would think an indoor cat would not have had the virus prior to arriving at the shelter. While at AHS-Newark, Kathleen’s URI did not respond to treatment and the cat developed pneumonia. According to the “Health Records” on the document below, AHS-Newark provided no other treatment beyond normal veterinary care on the day this cat arrived at the shelter. Amazingly, Kathleen developed pneumonia during the cat’s less than two week stay at AHS-Newark. After just 12 days, AHS-Newark killed Kathleen.

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AHS-Newark used a “throw everything but the kitchen sink” approach to justify the mass killing of dogs. Often times the shelter listed multiple boilerplate reasons, like aggression (including “cage crazy”/”not kenneling well”), dog aggression, sick, etc. The top three reasons AHS used to kill dogs were:

  1. Aggression related issues
  2. Dog aggression
  3. Overcrowded

AHS-Newark labeled many dogs as aggressive that did not seem that way. On August 3, 2015, AHS-Newark received Emmet back from an adopter. The adopter returned this 1 year and 8 month old Labrador mix due to Emmet having a sore and being too active. While Emmet was at the shelter previously, he received an excellent evaluation. Besides being “full of puppy energy” and dog selective, he “had a great food test” and was “gentle taking treats” and “friendly with people.” Furthermore, Emmet was one of the select few dogs chosen for a photoshoot and the shelter wrote “DO NOT PTS” (i.e. do not put to sleep) prior to his adoption. Despite this great evaluation and favorable treatment at the shelter, “sc”, who I presume is former AHS Assistant Executive Director, Scott Crawford, decided to kill him for being “Cagey” (i.e. cage aggression), “very dog aggressive” and for the crime of being returned by an adopter. As the Dogs Playing for Life program has found, cage or barrier aggression often does not mean a dog is aggressive in normal conditions outside of an unnatural kennel environment. Thus, it seems AHS-Newark simply looked for a reason to kill this young Labrador mix after he was returned by his adopter.

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Zoey was a 3 year and 6 month old stray dog taken to AHS-Newark on May 15, 2015. On August 18, 2015 the shelter wrote “DO NOT PTS-PHOTOSHOOT/FACEBOOK” on Zoey’s record below. Additionally, the photo on Zoey’s record below showed a person sitting with her. Despite AHS-Newark’s clear instructions not to kill Zoey, Scott Crawford decided to kill her two weeks later for being “cage craze”, “been developing barrier issues”, and acting “aggressive during length of stay.” Nothing in the record below indicated AHS provided any kind of behavioral treatment to Zoey.

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Spike was a 4 year and 4 month old stray dog taken to AHS-Newark on June 3, 2015. AHS-Newark killed Spike 20 days later for having dog aggression, “developing barrier issues” and lack of space. Nothing on the record indicated AHS-Newark tried to socialize Spike with other dogs to help treat his alleged dog aggression.

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Star was a 3 year and 5 month old stray dog taken to AHS-Newark on June 3, 2015. On July 21, 2015, AHS-Newark wrote “DO NOT PTS PER SW PHOTOSHOOT FACEBOOK.” Around a month later on August 22, 2015, AHS-Newark again wrote “DO NOT PTS” after Star apparently was evaluated. Star’s evaluation was spectacular. Specifically, the evaluation stated “She radiates joy with her disposition” and she was “a Kennel staff favorite with her wonderful loving disposition”, “warm and affectionate”, “very friendly”, and a “GREAT DOG.” With an evaluation like this and instructions to not kill her written on two separate occasions, one would think Star was safe. Sadly, AHS-Newark killed Star just 18 days later for being dog aggressive, “no interest for adoption” and lack of space. If a dog like Star can’t make it out of AHS-Newark alive, what chance do the many dogs outside the public spotlight have?

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Crush, who was a 1 year and 5 month old dog, was surrendered by his owner to AHS-Newark on January 15, 2015. Apparently, AHS-Newark posted Crush on Petfinder and Facebook as the shelter wrote “PETFINDER FACEBOOK DO NOT PTS PER SW.” Crush had an excellent evaluation that described him as “one happy dude” and went on to say “had no issues sharing his food bowl”, he shared his toys with people, and “did well with the female dog he met outside.” Despite his stellar evaluation, AHS-Newark killed Crush 70 days after he arrived at the shelter. AHS-Newark justified killing Crush for not being able to be share a kennel with another dog, “extreme barrier aggression”, being “unpredictable at times” and “declining further.” No where on the record does AHS-Newark mention any efforts to preserve Crush’s psychological well-being. Under N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1:9, shelters must have a disease control program that addresses the psychological well-being of their animals. Thus, it seems AHS-Newark did nothing to prevent Crush from deteriorating at the stressful AHS-Newark shelter or simply mislabeled him as having various forms of aggression.

Dog ID 131795

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Questionable Statistics

The data I reviewed suggests AHS-Newark may also kill large numbers of animals from other communities the shelter contracts with. AHS-Newark’s death rate for the Irvington animals in this blog was nearly as high as the 2014 Newark animal data set I reviewed in a prior blog. While Newark and Irvington may be more difficult communities to serve (i.e. higher intake, fewer reclaimed animals, more pit bull like dogs, etc.), I find it hard to imagine the death rates, particularly for unclaimed animals, are that much lower in other contracting municipalities.

The statistics in this blog and my prior blog on Newark animals arriving at AHS-Newark make me question AHS-Newark’s 2015 reported statistics. AHS-Newark killed 43% of cats and 25% of dogs based on its 2015 summary statistics. However, AHS-Newark killed 75% of cats and 60% of dogs in the 2015 Irvington data set I reviewed. If I exclude unclaimed animals, AHS-Newark killed 44% of unclaimed cats and 31% of unclaimed dogs based on its 2015 summary statistics. In the data set above, AHS-Newark killed 75% of unclaimed cats and 68% of unclaimed dogs. Thus, I question whether AHS-Newark’s reported summary statistics are in fact accurate.

AHS-Newark Requires New Leadership

AHS shocked the animal welfare community this summer when it hired Niki Dawson to replace Scott Crawford as its Assistant Executive Director. While I certainly had serious issues with Niki Dawson’s views and past performance, I stated she could make some improvements. However, I expressed skepticism that Ms. Dawson would have the authority to make those changes with Roseann Trezza being in charge. Around a month or so after joining AHS, AHS and Niki Dawson apparently parted ways as AHS posted Niki Dawson’s position on a job listing web site in late August. Furthermore, around the same time several people independently told me Niki Dawson no longer was working at AHS.

Niki Dawson’s quick departure from AHS is deeply disturbing. While Ms. Dawson has had a history of working at shelters for very short periods of time, her time at AHS is one of the shortest tenures that I know of. Even more unsettling is the fact that Niki Dawson has long held traditional sheltering and anti-no kill views. In fact, Ms. Dawson faced significant criticism from animal advocates over the years for killing animals at various shelters. Frankly, if a prominent traditional shelter and anti-no kill leader only lasts a month or so at AHS, that should raise major red flags to the New Jersey Department of Health, the NJ SPCA and the AHS Board of Directors. The longer these authorities fail to act the more their personal and professional reputations will deteriorate.

Clearly, AHS has failed its animals as well as the people in the communities it serves. From possible violations of state shelter laws to killing massive numbers of animals to killing dog and cats who are friends and families to wasting obscene amounts of money on lawyers to banning volunteers and fighting with many others in the animal welfare community, Roseann Trezza and AHS continue to do wrong by their animals and the public at large.

AHS needs a new Executive Director who will make the massive changes in culture, staffing, and programs needed to make the Newark facility an excellent shelter. Nothing will change at AHS as long as Roseann Trezza calls the shots. Given the scale of the killing at AHS, animal welfare advocates should make replacing Roseann Trezza with a compassionate and competent leader their primary goal. If animal advocates succeed, thousands of animals and hundreds of thousands of people will benefit. Personally, I can’t think of any anything better for New Jersey’s pets and animal loving people.

North Jersey Humane Society’s Horrible Inspection Report Exposes a Fake No Kill Organization

Last year, many people applauded Bloomfield’s decision to accept Bergen County Humane Enforcement’s and Bergen Protect and Rescue’s bid to run the Bloomfield Animal Shelter. After years of problems with the Bloomfield Department of Health and Human Services’ running of the animal shelter, which included banning virtually all volunteers and prohibiting a well-known trainer from keeping a dog with very minor behavioral problems, people were understandably eager to welcome an organization stating it would run a no kill shelter. Given Vincent Ascolese’s charismatic personality and him saying all the right things during a presentation to the town, one could hardly blame people for cheering Bloomfield’s decision to hire this organization.

Personally, I was very skeptical of Bergen County Humane Enforcement and North Jersey Humane Society, which was formed to run the Bloomfield Animal Shelter. First and foremost, I knew Vincent Ascolese, who is the Director of both Bergen Protect and Rescue and North Jersey Humane Society and the Supervising Animal Control Officer, previously brought animals from Hudson County to the horrific Jersey Animal Coalition. Second, Vincent Ascolese’s shelters contract with a for profit animal control company with a checkered history in Hudson County.

I was extremely disappointed when my spouse, my young child and I visited Bergen Protect and Rescue’s Cliffside Park shelter. The facility was extremely small and cramped and two people could barely pass each other through the tiny hallway inside the facility. After being ignored for 10 minutes by the the person in charge that day, we asked if we could see the dogs. This person told us no dogs were up for adoption at the facility and we had to make an appointment to see the animals even if they had any dogs up for adoption. The staff person’s claim seemed odd as many dogs were in a small area just around the corner from us. Even worse, the very next day I saw the shelter post one of the dogs I saw outside on their Facebook page as available for adoption. In addition, the staff person told us the adoption fee for an adult pit bull was over $300. While the staff person said we could drive to an adoption event the shelter was having that day, it was impractical as we did not know the area. Thus, my personal experience with this organization was not good.

Subsequently, I read about policies not consistent with well-run no kill animal control shelters. First, I saw high adoption fees on their web site (now the shelter does not even state what the fees are) which were consistent with the over $300 adoption fee communicated to us at the Cliffside Park shelter. The shelter’s web site states it may take up to a week to adopt an animal resulting in reduced lifesaving and potential overcrowding. Additionally, the Cliffside Park shelter transports many dogs in from out of state despite having what seemed like a very undersized facility. Not surprisingly, my analyses of the Cliffside Park facility’s 2013 performance showed the shelter only adopted out 35% of the number of dogs and 33% of the number of cats the shelter should adopt out. Finally, I was concerned seeing North Jersey Humane Society adopts out at least some intact animals where the shelter refers the adopter to a low cost vet clinic participating in the state subsidized spay/neuter program (funding often runs out during the year resulting in significant delays for the discounted spay/neuter services). Typically, I only see poorly run pounds use this program rather than doing the surgeries themselves with the shelter’s veterinarian. Thus, North Jersey Humane Society’s polices were not consistent with those of well-run no kill animal control shelters.

Last week’s news about the NJ SPCA charging Vincent Ascolese with animal cruelty floored me. The NJ SPCA rightfully charged Mr. Ascolese with 14 counts of animal cruelty for killing an injured deer fawn by slashing its neck with a knife and other issues with animal care at his facility. As bad as this news sounded, it paled in comparison to what I read in the recent New Jersey Department of Health inspection report of North Jersey Humane Society’s Bloomfield shelter.

Bloomfield and North Jersey Humane Society Allow Animals to Reside in a Dump

North Jersey Humane Society’s bid to perform animal sheltering services at the Bloomfield Animal Shelter required the town to bring the facility up to the standards of N.J.A.C. 8.23A. As a result, Bloomfield had a contractual obligation to ensure the building complied with the state law’s standards. Additionally, North Jersey Humane Society had a legal and moral obligation as the shelter operator to ensure the animals were housed in a safe facility.

The inspection report stated the facility was under construction and did not have the required permits. Additionally, the Bloomfield Department of Health and Human Services did not perform the required annual inspection and therefore the shelter did not have a license to operate.

The facility was occupied while under construction without evidence of local occupancy approvals and electrical, mechanical (HVAC), and building or construction permits.

The facility was not inspected by the local health authority for the current year and was not in compliance with these rules, and therefore, was not licensed at the time of this inspection.

Despite the shelter having many unsafe areas, North Jersey Humane Society housed animals in these conditions. The shelter kept dogs in a room without a ceiling with uncovered electrical wires and various dangerous items were hanging down from above.

The ceiling of the guillotine room was removed and was completely open to the rafters in the attic space. Dogs were being housed in this room at the time of this inspection. Electrical wires and junction boxes were exposed and hanging and were not properly secured as required; insulated ventilation ducts and other items were exposed and hanging down from the rafters (Pictures 2834 through 2836).

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North Jersey Humane Society left exposed screws adjacent to dog enclosures and the shelter’s entrance putting both people and animals at risk of injury.

There were boards with long protruding screws located on the ground near the entrance gate of the facility adjacent to an outdoor animal enclosure. These screws could cause injury to both animals and people (Picture 2829).

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The shelter had inadequate ventilation and smelled like urine. Furthermore, insufficient lighting prevented shelter staff from properly cleaning the animal enclosures resulting in a build up of feces and urine. North Jersey Humane Society apparently placed an outdoor animal enclosure on a surface that shelter staff cannot effectively disinfect. Furthermore, the town and North Jersey Humane Society did not repaint the surfaces of the outdoor animal enclosures and the staff could therefore not properly clean these kennels.

There was a strong, stale urine odor in the first animal enclosure room located next to the main office of the facility at the time of this inspection; the ventilation was not sufficient to remove odors as required.

The lighting in the facility was not sufficient to allow the viewing of all the interior surfaces of the animal enclosures to ensure that the enclosures had been cleaned and disinfected. The enclosures in the first animal enclosure room contained small pools of urine and small fragments of feces in the corners and bottom edges that had not been removed during the cleaning process. These corners and edges were unable to be viewed clearly due to the insufficient distribution of lighting in this room.

There was a chain link enclosure placed on the pavement in the driveway in front of the facility. This asphalt pavement was not impervious to moisture and not able to be readily cleaned and disinfected. This enclosure did not have any drains to contain and properly dispose of run off as required (Picture 2831).

The surfaces of the outdoor animal enclosures attached to the side of the building and accessible to the animals in these enclosures by a guillotine door were not impervious to moisture. These surfaces were originally painted, but the paint was peeling, and the surfaces were no longer impervious to moisture (Picture 2844).

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North Jersey Humane Society housed dogs in dangerous enclosures posing a risk of injury and possible death. The shelter left one dog in an outdoor enclosure without sufficient shade for two hours on a hot day in August and the inspector observed the dog drooling. Furthermore the dog bed in this enclosure was broken and had sharp exposed points. Another dog named Benny had a sharp metal wire that was in his cage.

The outdoor dog enclosure on the concrete slab in the driveway next to the entrance gate of the facility had a tarp type of material strapped to the top of the enclosure, but this tarp was not suitable to provide sufficient shade to avoid overheating or discomfort of the animals housed in this enclosure. ACO Stewart stated that the dog housed in this enclosure at the time of this inspection had been in the enclosure approximately two hours and the dog’s drooling was normal and not caused by overheating (Picture 2828).

A dog bed located in an outdoor enclosure near the entrance gate of the facility was broken and in need of repair. The bed contained metal triangle screw plates that had become separated from the frame. The points of the plate were exposed in an upward position and the legs of the bed were bent over (Picture 2828).

A small, thin, red coated dog named Benny was housed in an upper level enclosure in the annex room. The door of the enclosure had a wire that was bent over and protruding into the enclosure at the level of the dog that could cause injury (Picture 2856).



To make matters worse, the shelter housed two large Rottweilers in kennels that were approximately 30% smaller than required by N.J.A.C. 8.23A 1.6 (b):

Two large Rottweilers at the facility at the time of this inspection were each housed in primary enclosures that provided approximately 10.34 square feet of floor space when measured from the inside of the enclosure. These dogs were estimated to be approximately 39 to 42 inches long and required approximately 14 to 16 square feet of floor space.

North Jersey Humane Society Fails to Properly Clean its Shelter

North Jersey Humane Society failed to use proper procedures to clean the shelter. Specifically, the shelter did not remove cat litter, hair and other debris from an enclosure holding multiple cats. The shelter did not use EPA registered cleaning products. Even worse, the facility did not have suitable measuring devices to ensure staff applied the proper concentration of disinfectants.

Cats were being placed in a three tier cat cage during the daily cleaning process. This enclosure was being sprayed down with a spray bottle and immediately wiped out with a towel between each cat, but this cage was not being disinfected as required. There was an accumulation of cat litter, hair, and other debris trapped in the wire along the edges of the resting benches and at the bottom of this wire enclosure that had not been removed, cleaned and disinfected between each cat during the cleaning process. Toys were also being sprayed with the contents of the spray bottle and immediately wiped off, without allowing the required contact time for disinfection.

The bleach that was being used on the day of this inspection was Clorox Scented, Spashless bleach, which is not an EPA registered disinfectant. Two small bottles of Clorox regular bleach were later found in the upstairs storage area.

The disinfectants used at the facility, sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) and Accel (accelerated hydrogen peroxide), were not being used at the correct dilution for disinfecting animal contact surfaces. The Accel requires a dilution ratio of 8 ounces (one cup) per gallon of water and the chlorine bleach that was found in the upstairs storage area requires 4 ounces (one half cup) per gallon of water according to the instructions on the product labels for disinfection of smooth and impervious animal contact surfaces.

There were no suitable measuring devices being used at the time of this inspection. One capful of these products (said to be approximately one ounce of concentrated solution) was being mixed into a one and a half gallon sprayer that was labeled as “Bleach” (Picture 2857). The cages were said to be sprayed down with this solution, allowed to sit for approximately 10 minutes while other cages are being sprayed down, and then the cages are rinsed with a hose and the remaining water was removed with a squeegee. The cages were not manually scrubbed clean at any time during the cleaning process.


Furthermore, shelter staff stated they cleaned animal enclosures, but the inspector’s tape measure became covered with urine and feces when she was examining the cages.

The animal enclosures located in the first room of the facility near the office and main entrance to the facility were said to have been cleaned, but when a metal tape of a tape measure was placed in one of the upper cages while measuring the cage size, the length of tape became contaminated with urine and small bits of feces that remained inside of the cage after the cleaning process. The facility staff was not following proper cleaning and disinfection procedures to reduce disease hazards and odors caused by bacteria and other contaminants that remained on animal enclosure surfaces.

Finally, North Jersey Humane Society failed to use a proper cleaning solution to disinfect the animals’ food and water receptacles.

Food and water receptacles were being washed with a dishwashing liquid, rinsed and placed on a towel to dry, but they were not being disinfected daily as required. ACO Ascolese stated over the phone on the day of this inspection that the receptacles were being washed with an antibacterial type hand dishwashing liquid, but this type of dishwashing liquid was not an EPA registered disinfectant for use in animal facilities.

Cruel Treatment of Wildlife

North Jersey Humane Society treated wildlife in a way that constituted animal cruelty in my view. Two days prior to the inspection, the shelter impounded a 3 week old baby squirrel that was too young to eat, drink, urinate and defecate on its own. Instead of bottle-feeding this animal or sending the animal to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center, the shelter tried to feed the animal with a honey seed stick. The inspector told both the ACO at the shelter and Vincent Ascolese that the shelter must transport the squirrel to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center immediately. Furthermore, a New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife agent also stated the squirrel needed to go to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center right away. Despite this emergency, Vincent Ascolese refused to do so and said he’d take the animal to the animal hospital the shelter uses.

Frankly, I am appalled that the shelter does not take injured wildlife to licensed wildlife rehabilitation centers. Even some very regressive kill shelters transport wild animals to these facilities. Furthermore, North Jersey Humane Society and Bergen Protect and Rescue could have made a simple plea on their social media pages and many people would have gladly transported the animal and offered monetary assistance.

To make matters worse, the baby squirrel and an iguana were housed in the feral cat room where the door is left open overnight. The inspection report noted some type of animal entered the room as evidenced by feces found in one of the cages. Additionally, the bars in the baby squirrel’s cage were wide enough for the animal to fall through. Given the young squirrel had not yet opened its eyes, this was a very real possibility. In fact, this did happen and the inspector actually caught the baby squirrel falling from its cage. Furthermore, the shelter staff left water in a bowl for the baby squirrel that was deep enough for the animal to drown in. As a result, the baby squirrel was housed in a room with potential predators, feral cats and wildlife that could enter the room, and left in an environment where it could drown or even fall to its death.

A baby squirrel that was impounded at the facility on 8/17/15 was crying in distress in search of its mother at the time of this inspection. This squirrel was approximately 3 weeks old and was too young to eat, drink and eliminate on its own and at this young age, may have been unable to regulate its body temperature. This squirrel was not receiving proper care and nourishment as required and was not placed in a suitable housing environment to maintain the safety and wellbeing of this animal for the two days that it was housed at the facility (Pictures 2849 and 2850).



A baby squirrel, approximately 3 weeks of age with its eyes not yet open, that was impounded at the facility on 8/17/15 was not being fed as required to meet the nutritional needs of this young squirrel. There was no infant replacement formula of any kind or any electrolytes or other preparation for rehydration at the facility for this squirrel at the time of this inspection.

The baby squirrel detailed in 1.7 (b) was not fed or provided with a rehydration solution during the entire inspection period. A squirrel of this age requires feeding approximately every three hours.

ACO Stewart stated that George, who was not at the facility at the time of this inspection, had been feeding the squirrel seeds and honey on a stick. Although the squirrel was too young to forage, the staff had placed the honey seed stick in the red cedar chip bedding with the assumption that the squirrel would search for its food.

The inspector, Frese, explained to ACO Stewart that this squirrel was a nursing squirrel and was too young to eat, drink, and eliminate on its own. Frese stated that this squirrel needed to be transported to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator immediately. ACO Stewart stated that the squirrel could not be transported at that time, but would be transported the next day. Frese stated that the squirrel may not live that long and then called the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife and the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA) for assistance. Neither agency was available to transport the squirrel; the agent from the Division of Fish and Wildlife said the squirrel needed to be transported immediately to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

The Supervising ACO, Vincent Ascolese, called and spoke to Frese on the phone and explained that the squirrel was being cared for adequately with the seed stick placed in the bedding to teach the squirrel to find its food. Frese explained again that the squirrel was too young to forage and needs to be transported immediately to a rehabilitator. ACO Ascolese stated that they do not take any wildlife to a wildlife rehabilitator. He stated that he would instruct the staff to take the squirrel to Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital; that is where they take all injured and orphaned wildlife. ACO Ascolese stated that it is their policy for all injured and orphaned wildlife to be transported directly to the Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital, Wildlife Division.

There was a hole in the ceiling of the room named the “feral cat” room (Picture 2851) and the animal control officer (ACO) Nicole Stewart, confirmed that the door to this room had been left open to the outside of the building overnight. There were feces in one of the cages in this room from some type of animal that had entered the room and perched on the top of the cage (Picture 2848). An iguana and a baby squirrel were housed in this room at the time of this inspection and had been in the room while the door was open overnight. ACO Stewart stated that this room is used for the feral cats that free roam the grounds of the facility.



A baby squirrel was housed in an enclosure that had bars on the enclosure door that were wide enough for the squirrel to fit through. The squirrel was too young to walk normally, but was able to crawl. The squirrel crawled to the front of the enclosure and fit itself through the bars of the door. The squirrel had come halfway out of the enclosure, but was caught by the inspector, Frese, before it fell and was placed into the back into the enclosure. The squirrel was vocalizing a distress call as it crawled out of the cage (Picture 2866).

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The baby squirrel that was too young to eat and drink on its own was provided with a straight sided bowl filled with water in the enclosure that was deep enough that the squirrel could have become trapped and drowned in the water, due to the age and inadequate mobility of the squirrel.

The inspection report documented Vincent Ascolese killing an injured deer fawn. North Jersey Humane Society picked up a deer fawn with two broken legs in Woodland Park 12 minutes after the animal hospital the shelter uses closed (the animal hospital’s web site currently states it is open on the day of the week and time this happened). Instead of immediately taking the injured deer to another animal hospital or better yet, a licensed wildlife rehabilitation facility, as required by law, North Jersey Humane Society brought the animal back to the Bloomfield shelter. Vincent Ascolese subsequently slashed the deer’s throat in what one could consider an audition for joining the terrorist group, ISIS. Irregardless of whether the animal was hopelessly suffering, the shelter was required to send this animal for veterinary treatment. Even if euthanasia was required, slashing a deer’s throat is not humane and is illegal in New Jersey. Thus, Vincent Ascolese acted in an illegal and unethical manner and is now rightfully charged with animal cruelty.

A deer that was picked up by ACO McGowan in Woodland Park, Passaic County, on 6/29/15 was described on the “Animal Control Incident Transport Record” form as being severely injured and bleeding, with both hind legs broken and bone protruding through skin. The form stated “Well Pet Animal Hospital closed.” According to the website for this animal hospital, the normal business hours on Mondays, the day of the incident, are 9 AM to 6 PM. According to the animal control incident form, the ACO had arrived at the scene of the severely injured deer (fawn) at 6:12 PM, which was outside of this hospital’s posted hours of operation. The deer was transported to the Shelter facility at 6:47 PM. The “Animal Control Incident Transport Record” form indicated that the ACO did not immediately obtain emergency veterinary care from a licensed veterinarian as required by this regulation.

ACO Ascolese, stated during a phone call at the time of this inspection, that it is their policy for all injured and orphaned wildlife to be transported directly to the Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital, Wildlife Division. The severely injured deer that was picked up on 6/29/15 was not transported to the Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital in accordance with the policy stated by ACO Ascolese. The website for the Franklin Lakes Animal Hospital shows that the hospital’s regular operating hours are from 9 AM to 8 PM on Mondays.

A deer (fawn) that was impounded at the facility on 6/29/15 was killed by ACO Ascolese who cut the throat of the deer with a knife resulting in exsanguination (death from loss of blood). Exsanguination is an unacceptable method of euthanasia in accordance with these regulations.

Furthermore, even if throat slashing was a legal euthanasia method, Vincent Ascolese was not allowed to euthanize animals under state law at that time since he lacked the certification to do so.

Dr. Diaz confirmed that he had certified ACO Ascolese in August, 2015. On 6/29/2015, ACO Ascolese killed a deer (fawn), prior to the animal euthanasia training that had been conducted on or about 8/12/2015.

North Jersey Humane Society Fails to Provide Adequate Care to its Animals

The shelter did not provide prompt veterinary care to an injured dog. Benny had open sores on his legs and was not placing any weight on his left front leg during the inspection. Despite these issues, North Jersey Humane Society provided no veterinary care for the 3 days he was at the shelter before the inspection.

A dog named Benny was not placing any weight on his left front leg at the time of this inspection. This dog also had several ulcer type sores in various locations on all four of his legs, most of which were covered with smooth, hairless, blackened skin tissue with a raised outer edge, but some of these sores were shallow open wounds with a red and pink wound bed. This dog had not received any veterinary care since it arrived at the facility on Sunday, August 16, 2015 (Picture 2856).


North Jersey Humane Society also did not provide some animals adequate amounts of water. Specifically, an iguana had no water during the 7 hour inspection and the inspector had to tell shelter staff to provide water to a thirsty Rottweiler.

An iguana located in the feral cat room had spilled its water and the water had not been replaced during the inspection.

A Rottweiler that was housed in an outdoor enclosure did not have water in his water bucket at the time of this inspection. This dog was subsequently provided with water after this was brought to the attention of ACO Stewart (Picture 2868 through 2870).



Shelter staff also left an iguana to sit in a wet bed during the entire 7 hour inspection.

An iguana that was impounded at the facility on 8/17/15 was housed in an enclosure with wet bedding after the water from the water bowl had been spilled in the enclosure. This wet bedding had not been changed during the entire inspection period (Picture 2867).

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North Jersey Humane Society did not isolate sick animals from healthy animals. The facility’s HVAC system emitted air from the isolation area, which is supposed to house sick animals, to locations holding healthy animals. In fact, the shelter used the ineffective isolation area it did have to house four healthy dogs due to overcrowding. And just how did the shelter become overcrowded? The facility transported 15 dogs, which made up 60% of the facility’s dog population at the time of the inspection, from Georgia 3 days before.

The facility did not have any isolation procedures in place and did not have a proper isolation area at the time of this inspection.

The ventilation in the dog and cat isolation rooms was not separated from the air used for the general population. The ventilation for the isolation rooms was supplied through the HVAC system for the facility and mixed with the air for the general population and did not exhaust directly to the outdoors as required.

Due to lack of space, the dog isolation room was being used to house 4 healthy dogs at the time of this inspection and the cat isolation room housed 13 cats that were not exhibiting signs of or being treated for a communicable disease. The dog isolation room did not have floor to ceiling walls and was open at the top of the walls to the holding area of the general dog population. The cat isolation room had windows that were open to the room where the general cat population was housed (Pictures 2861 and 2865).


2865 (2)

The 15 dogs that had been imported from Georgia and arrived at the facility on Sunday, 8/16/15, did not have completed cage cards as of the date of this inspection.

The shelter also did not answer its supervising veterinarian’s requests going back as far as five months to acquire medicines and diagnostic equipment to treat sick and/or injured animals.

A notebook was located on the premises that showed the supervising veterinarian’s findings along with the veterinarian’s signature and date of each visit. The notes in this log book indicated that the veterinarian had recommended the pharmacy stock at the facility be increased (this would require prescriptions from the supervising veterinarian with the required prescribing information) and suggested medical and diagnostic equipment be purchased for use at the facility. These notations had been recorded in the log book since March of 2015, with the last request for equipment dated 8/2/15. The facility did not have the diagnostic equipment on the premises as requested by the supervising veterinarian.

North Jersey Humane Society also had drugs without required information, such as the animal it was prescribed for, directions for use, date dispensed, and name of the facility distributing the medication. This raises serious questions as to whether the shelter illegally obtained these medicines and whether expired drugs were given to animals.

There were medications at the facility that did not contain prescription labels with the required information, including the animal’s name or identification, directions for use, the date dispensed, and the name and license number of the licensee and facility dispensing the medication. A 200 ml bottle of Toltrazuril, used for the treatment of coccidia in horses, was located on the top of a cart in the medical treatment room. The manufacturer’s label on the bottle stated to refrigerate after opening and expires one year after opening, but the bottle was not refrigerated and there was no date on the bottle indicating when the bottle had been opened. There were no records or directions from the supervising veterinarian indicating what the medication was to be used for and to which animal it had been prescribed. There was also a box of MilbeMite brand ear mite medication for cats on this cart with no prescription label, animal identification, and instructions for use (Pictures 2871 through 2873).




North Jersey Humane Society’s Euthanasia Statistics May Not Be Accurate

North Jersey Humane Society reported it only euthanized one cat and three dogs died or went missing in its 2014 Shelter/Pound Annual Report. However, the inspection report noted 4 dead animals were in the facility’s freezer. To make matters worse, the shelter could not produce accurate and legally required intake and disposition records at the time of the inspection. Furthermore, Vincent Ascolese, who illegally killed the fawn, conveniently removed all the wildlife intake and disposition records and stored them in another county. As a result, I have no confidence in North Jersey Humane Society’s reported euthanasia and other statistics since the shelter could not produce the supporting documents.

There were also approximately four animals in the freezer that were bagged, but the bags were not labeled with a name or ID number.

Paper records were maintained on dogs and cats that were received at the facility, but the intake and disposition log which correlates when each animal arrived at the facility and the final disposition was maintained as a computer record. There was no one at the facility at the time of this inspection that had access to the computer records to ascertain when animals were received and the final dispositions. A notebook that was labeled “stray animal log” was not up to date and did not include all animals that were received at the facility. The log only listed dogs that had been impounded and the last entry was dated 7/1/15.

The “Animal Control Incident Transport Record” forms, which were the only records created for the intake and disposition of certain wildlife or other species of animals received at the facility, including the deer that was received at the facility on 6/29/15, were not kept at the premises. Kristi, the Executive Director of Shelter Services stated during a telephone conversation at the time of this inspection that all animal control records were removed from the establishment by ACO Ascolese and stored in an office located in different county.

No People Admit to Euthanizing Animals

The inspection report documented the supervising veterinarian contradicting the shelter’s statement about who performs euthanasia. Specifically, the ACO on staff during the inspection stated Dr. Nelson Diaz performs all euthanasia procedures for the shelter’s animals. However, the veterinarian stated he never euthanized any animals from the shelter despite the shelter reporting 1 euthanized cat in 2014 and four dead animals in shelter’s freezer at the time of the inspection.

Furthermore, the shelter had no required euthanasia equipment at the facility or documentation that any shelter staff were certified to euthanize animals. As a result, one has to wonder if Vincent Ascolese or some other people at the shelter illegally killed animals like Vincent Ascolese did with the deer fawn.

At the time of the inspection, no certification documents were found on the premises or made available to the inspectors to indicate which staff members were certified by a licensed veterinarian to perform humane euthanasia at the facility. ACO Stewart stated at the time of this inspection that all animal euthanasia was performed by the supervising veterinarian, Dr. Diaz. Dr. Diaz was contacted by phone and confirmed that he had not performed any animal euthanasia for this facility and he was not contacted regarding the deer (fawn) that was killed by ACO Ascolese. ACO Stewart also stated that ACO Ascolese was trained by Dr. Diaz to euthanize animals at the facility one week prior to the inspection (8/12/2015). Dr. Diaz confirmed that he had certified ACO Ascolese in August, 2015. On 6/29/2015, ACO Ascolese killed a deer (fawn), prior to the animal euthanasia training that had been conducted on or about 8/12/2015.

None of the required euthanasia equipment was on the premises at the time of this inspection; there were no posted instructions, and no euthanasia, tranquilizing or immobilizing agents on the premises. This facility was not equipped with the supplies to perform humane euthanasia on any animals at the time of this inspection and there were no records or other evidence provided at the facility during this inspection to indicate that the facility was equipped as required to perform euthanasia on 6/29/2015 when the deer (fawn) was killed by ACO Ascolese.

North Jersey Humane Society Violates Basic No Kill Principles

No kill shelters essentially need to do three broad things. First and foremost, no kill sheltering mandates not killing or allowing healthy and treatable animals to die. Second, no kill facilities must perform at a high level resulting in animals quickly leaving the shelter and going to good homes. Third, no kill sheltering requires animals be provided with an elite level of care.

North Jersey Humane Society violated all three of these principles. Vincent Ascolese never even tried to get the injured fawn to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center. In fact, Mr. Ascolese’s organization does not use licensed wildlife rehabilitation centers for any wild animals per the inspection report. His shelter’s careless disregard for an extremely vulnerable baby squirrel also violated no kill’s unwavering standard of not killing. Whether the shelter killed the baby squirrel directly or simply allowed it to die makes no difference. The shelter must have a passion for saving animals. Clearly, Vincent Ascolese’s organization has an attitude that some animals are simply not worth saving. After all, when the Director of North Jersey Humane Society slices open the throat of a fawn, is it any wonder other staff members will not do anything to save a baby squirrel?

North Jersey Humane Society’s and Bergen Protect and Rescue’s polices resulting in prolonged lengths of stay also violate no kill principles. To make a no kill animal control shelter work, the organization must quickly place animals into good homes. With excessive adoption fees, long waiting periods to adopt animals and poor customer service, Vincent Ascolese’s shelters simply do not perform in the manner they should.

Finally, North Jersey Humane Society fails to follow basic animal sheltering practices let alone the elite level standards of a no kill facility. Housing sick animals together, leaving animals without water, not providing prompt veterinary care, keeping animals in filthy enclosures, exposing animals to dangerous kennels, and potentially providing animals with expired medicines is unacceptable for any shelter, kill or no kill. Clearly, North Jersey Humane Society failed its animals and does not deserve the no kill or even a shelter label.

Bloomfield Needs to Take Immediate Action

Bloomfield and the shelter’s other contracting municipalities should expect far better service. Assuming North Jersey Humane Society’s annual fees are the same as its $120,000 bid for animal control and $145,000 bid for sheltering services, North Jersey Humane Society receives $265,000 a year in revenue from these towns. Based on the Bloomfield Animal Shelter’s total reported intake in 2014, this works out to nearly $1,500 of revenue per animal the shelter impounds. Also, the shelter receives donations in addition to these contract fees. Surely, North Jersey Humane Society can afford to provide proper care to its animals.

Bloomfield no longer can trust Vincent Ascolese to do the right thing. First, Bloomfield must make all necessary structural improvements to the shelter to ensure the facility can comply with state law. Second, the town must form an Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, which should have qualified members dedicated to ensuring the town has an elite no kill shelter and to oversee and regulate whoever runs the Bloomfield Animal Shelter. Third, Bloomfield must enact the Companion Animal Protection Act (“CAPA”) that residents have demanded for years. Fourth, the town should pass a no kill resolution mandating at least a 95% live release rate for dogs and a 90% live release rate for cats impounded from the towns the shelter contracts with. Fifth, the town should demand North Jersey Humane Society stop transporting animals from southern states into the Bloomfield Animal Shelter. Simply put, the town can no longer take the word of a charismatic person with a dark side.

New Jersey Department of Health, the NJ SPCA and the Towns Contracting with Bergen Protect and Rescue Must Investigate That Shelter

Based on the egregious performance of North Jersey Humane Society, the New Jersey Department of Health and NJ SPCA must investigate Bergen Protect and Rescue to see if Vincent Ascolese’s other facility is also violating New Jersey shelter and animal cruelty laws. Furthermore, Cliffside Park should also do the same things as I recommend for Bloomfield to ensure the shelter is effectively supervised and regulated. Sadly, Vincent Ascolese’s organizations have lost all credibility and it is time these shelters prove to everyone they are ready to step up their game. If not, then the municipalities must move on and bring an organization in that will do the right things for the animals.

East Orange Animal Shelter’s Horrific Inspection Report Raises Serious Questions


East Orange July Photos

East Orange Animal Shelter’s ongoing problems became well-known in the last year. In 2010, the New Jersey Department of Health uncovered significant issues during an inspection. One year later, the New Jersey Department of Health found the shelter had clogged drains and allowed the facility to fall apart. Furthermore, the shelter did not clean properly and keep required records. In 2014, the New Jersey Department of Health reported animals inundated with a toxic feces and chemical filled soup due to clogged drains, a fly infestation so severe that animals with open wounds and skin lesions were in danger of having maggots grow inside them, cats not provided with enough water and water they did have was contaminated with cat litter, and improper isolation of sick animals. Last June, East Orange Animal Shelter killed a dog recently adopted from Liberty Humane Society and did not appear to make any effort to return the dog to the other shelter. Thus, East Orange has run an outlaw operation for at least half a decade.

July 2015 Inspection Details Horrible Problems

On July 16, 2015, the New Jersey Department of Health inspected the East Orange Animal Shelter and issued a failing grade to the facility. Amazingly, the shelter did not even do the most basic things correctly to the point where it seemed the city made no effort to fix its long-standing problems. Below are some of the key inspection report findings and my comments.

East Orange Animal Shelter’s basic facilities were not only disgusting, but unsafe. The shelter’s ceiling tiles were damaged by water, and most likely harboring dangerous mold, and were literally coming down, including one that was close to falling into one dog enclosure:

EO Falling Tiles

The cat room had a putrid odor and was not properly ventilated:

EO Cat Odor

The guillotine doors to the dog enclosures had cracks that accumulated contaminated materials and therefore shelter personnel could not properly clean these areas:

Dirty Guillotine Doors

The drains surrounding the outdoor dog enclosures were clogged and therefore allowed dirty and toxic liquids to build up:

Drains 1

Drains 2

Dogs had to lie on beds that were falling apart. Cats were held in stacked enclosures that were at risk of falling over.

Cages Falling Over

Kittens, which depend on nourishing food to grow, were fed unknown dry food that may or may not have been suitable for them:

EO Kitten Food

Despite running a filthy facility, shelter staff still failed to disinfect food and water bowls:

EO Food and Water Bowls

The shelter did not provide adequate amounts, and in some cases any, water to animals. The inspector had to request one of East Orange’s ACOs to fill the water bowl not once, but twice, for a mother cat who appeared dehydrated and her kittens. Even worse, the facility had plenty of water bowls and still failed to provide water to the animals as required by state law.

EO Water to Animals

The shelter cleaned cat cages with powerful chemicals while cats were inside these enclosures:

EO Cat Cleaning 1

Cat Cleaning 2

Feces were left uncleaned for so long that it dried and adhered to the floor of one dog enclosure:

Dog Feces Uncleaned

The isolation room had mold covered food and feces that had been there for two weeks:

Isolation Not Cleaned in 2 Weeks

East Orange Animal Shelter failed to adhere to its veterinarian’s disease control program:

Disease Control Program Not Followed

Most disturbingly, the shelter did not provide legally required prompt and basic veterinary care to alleviate pain and suffering. One cat (“C871”) with an injured leg did not move during the entire inspection. Another cat (“C870”) had been at the shelter for 9 days and did not eat or drink during her stay at the facility. The cat’s weight decreased 64% from 11 pounds to 4 pounds during her time at the shelter. The inspector could feel the bones of the cat and noted the cat was dehydrated and making distress calls. Yet, the inspection report stated Dr. Kimani Griffith told a shelter employee on Wednesday July 15 that he would wait 5 more days to examine the animal. Another cat died one day after arriving at the shelter and no documentation existed to show the shelter diagnosed a medical condition or provided any veterinary care.

Apparently, Dr. Kimani Griffith got wind of the New Jersey Department of Health’s arrival and came to the East Orange Animal Shelter during the 5 and half hour inspection. The NJ Department of Health inspector had to show Dr. Kimani Griffith two dogs with medical issues, one with a red irritation on his face and another who was not eating, and three cats needing veterinary attention, C871 and C870 above and a third cat. Shockingly, Dr. Kimani Griffith declined the New Jersey Department of Health inspector’s request to take the two suffering cats, C871 and C870, to his veterinary office for immediate treatment. Finally, Dr. Kimani Griffith examined the two cats at his office the next day and diagnosed C871 with a fractured leg and C870 as severely dehydrated and in chronic renal/kidney failure. Dr. Kimani Griffith put a splint on C871 and euthanized C870.

Prompt Vet Care Not Provided 1

Vet Care Not Provided 2

The shelter did not document the veterinary care it was providing to animals. Based on the lack of documentation, once must assume few animals received proper veterinary care.

Vet Care Not Provided 3

The shelter had expired drugs and even gave some to shelter animals. Additionally, needles and syringes were readily accessible as they were left in an unlocked drawer and cabinet at the shelter.

Vet Care Not Provided 4

The shelter failed to properly isolate sick animals from healthy animals. Furthermore, the ventilation system allowed air from the isolation area where sick animals are housed to mix with the general shelter area where healthy animals reside. Thus, disease could easily spread.

Isolation 1

Isolation 2

The shelter also did not document whether people surrendering several animals for euthanasia were the actual owners. In other words, someone could steal your pet and have East Orange Animal Shelter kill your dog or cat. Additionally, the shelter illegally killed a cat on the day it arrived at the shelter.

Illegally Killing

When the shelter did kill animals, it did not do so humanely. Dr. Kimani Griffith stated animals are not weighed prior to euthanasia/killing as required by N.J.A.C. 8.23A. As a result, animals may not get enough tranquilizer and euthanasia drugs causing the animals to suffer. Even more shocking, Dr. Kimani Griffith “walked” two ACOs through the euthanasia/killing process over the phone while the veterinarian was on vacation. Apparently, taking a life is no big deal and you can learn how to do so over a casual telephone call while your instructor is at the beach or somewhere else. Additionally, the shelter did not keep legally required records, such as the animal’s weight, and drug dosage used to euthanize/kill animals.

Euthanasis Violations 1

Euthanasis Violations 2

If East Orange Animal Shelter was not bad enough, the ACO vehicle used to haul animals to the facility was disgusting as well. Literally, the animals that were brought to the shelter had to lie in a filthy crate covered with blood and dirt on their way to this horrific shelter.

ACO Vehicle

The shelter also failed to maintain legally required intake and disposition records for each of the shelter’s animals:

Intake and Disposition Records

Finally, the New Jersey Department of Health answered some questions I had about the recently adopted Liberty Humane Society dog that East Orange Animal Shelter killed. While East Orange Animal Shelter did not kill the dog during the 7 day hold period, the facility did not document the dog was suffering nor did this pound document that it contacted Liberty Humane Society. Thus, East Orange Animal Shelter made no effort to save this dog.


Reaction to Kane in Your Corner Investigation Raises More Questions

On Thursday, August 20, News 12’s Kane in Your Corner aired its investigation of the East Orange Animal Shelter. Amazingly, East Orange Health Officer, Rochelle Evans, who is ultimately responsible for the shelter, refused to talk with Walt Kane. However, the City’s public relations person, claimed the New Jersey Department of Health revised its report and removed most of its serious findings related to not providing prompt veterinary care. Yet, the New Jersey Department of Health subsequently responded to Walt Kane and stated they did not drop these New Jersey shelter law violations.

Walt Kane’s subsequent interview of Dr. Kimani Griffith also seemed bizarre. Dr. Kimani Griffith, who appeared quite nervous during the interview, stated East Orange’s erroneous claim that the New Jersey Department of Health removed some of the serious violations was due to a typo. On camera, Dr. Kimani Griffith said he is taking constructive criticism from the New Jersey Department of Health so “they could improve the operation.”

Yet, Dr. Kimani Griffith has been the supervising veterinarian for the East Orange Animal Shelter for all of the terrible New Jersey Department of Health inspections since 2010. Dr. Griffith receives $76,500 a year per his 2012 contract with East Orange to provide “animal care and sheltering services” to East Orange despite East Orange already having its own facility. Amazingly, Dr. Griffith’s fee represents nearly half of the shelter’s 2014 budget. Additionally, Dr. Kimani Griffith can bill the city for other services. Furthermore, Dr. Kimani Griffith also operates a shelter/rescue out of his veterinary office and apparently adopts out dogs for $300 and cats for $125. If Dr. Kimani Griffith, “rescues” animals from East Orange Animal Shelter, he could earn additional profits if he performs any vetting himself (i.e. no veterinary labor costs if he spays/neuters animal and provides vaccinations). Additionally, East Orange residents are unlikely to travel all the way to Mine Hill to adopt an animal that came from East Orange. Thus, Dr. Kimani Griffith seems to profit off East Orange’s homeless animals at the expense of East Orange’s taxpayers.

Sadly, the operation cannot just improve as Dr. Kimani Griffith suggests. East Orange must completely overhaul the shelter and remove Dr. Kimani Griffith and Rochelle Evans from having anything to do with the facility. At this point, a private no kill organization should take over as East Orange proved incapable of operating a humane shelter that saves rather than takes lives.

Walt Kane also mentioned the New Jersey State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners is conducting an investigation. Given this board found Dr. Kimani Griffith grossly negligent in the care he provided to an animal in private practice, perhaps this is why Dr. Kimani Griffith appeared nervous and tried to convey a conciliatory tone?

South Orange Has A lot of Explaining to Do

The South Orange Health Department quarantined and effectively shut down Jersey Animal Coalition after the shelter failed a joint New Jersey Department of Health and South Orange Health Department inspection last year. Yet, the South Orange Health Department, South Orange Board of Trustees and the South Orange Board of Health allowed the Village to contract with a veterinarian who allowed a shelter he supervises to be run to the ground for at least half a decade and fail an inspection just like Jersey Animal Coalition. Additionally, the South Orange ACO brought at least one stray dog to the East Orange Animal Shelter.

The South Orange Board of Health’s hypocrisy has been exposed by these events. At a recent South Orange Board of Trustees meeting, the Board of Health railed against TNR due to alleged risks relating to diseases, such as toxoplasmosis and rabies, despite these diseases virtually never being transmitted from feral cats to humans. However, the South Orange Board of Health apparently had no problems contracting with the supervising veterinarian of a shelter that fails to segregate sick animals from healthy animals and potentially allowing zoonotic diseases to run rampant. Furthermore, the South Orange Board of Health apparently is fine with sick and injured animals not receiving medical treatment for days or even weeks. Would the physicians on the South Orange Board of Health think this is appropriate for the their human patients?

NJ SPCA Fails to Act Again

The NJ SPCA did not promptly act in a number of recent animal shelter cases. Last year, the NJ SPCA only raided the Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter after Kane in Your Corner aired its investigation. The NJ SPCA also did not take action at Linden Animal Control despite abuse that may have been even worse than Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter. In the case of Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter, charges against the shelter directors were downgraded and it appears these people will not face serious consequences for their actions.

The NJ SPCA’s performance in Essex County animal shelter abuse cases has been dismal. Despite multiple miserable inspection reports, some with horrific photos, the NJ SPCA failed to successfully take action against Associated Humane Societies – Newark in 2009 or 2011. The NJ SPCA took no successful action against Montclair Animal Shelter’s former management despite animals being forced to stay in cold conditions. Despite years of complaints about Jersey Animal Coalition, no serious action was taken against the shelter even after it failed its inspection last year. Even after being contacted about the East Orange Animal Shelter’s problems in 2014, the NJ SPCA failed to take serious action.  One has to wonder what Sergeant Al Peterson has been doing in Essex County all these years?

Clearly, the NJ SPCA could have expedited the resolution of these shelter problems if it got more effectively involved. Sadly, just like the New Jersey Commission of Investigation Report on the state’s SPCAs concluded in 2000 and the Animal Welfare Task Force Report found in 2004, the NJ SPCA and the county SPCAs inadequately protect animals and should step aside and let real professionals prosecute animal cruelty.

Special thanks to Reform the East Orange Animal Shelter for providing me with the inspection reports and photos

New Jersey’s Lawless Animal Shelters Need Policing

Recently, terrible conditions at New Jersey animal shelters became well-publicized. The NJ SPCA took over Hunterdon Humane Animal Shelter in January after Hunterdon Humane Animal Shelter’s Board President was charged with animal cruelty for failing to provide proper care to a number of cats at the facility. In March, Jersey Animal Coalition failed a joint state Office of Animal Welfare and South Orange inspection resulting in the shelter’s planned closing in November. The Office of Animal Welfare inspected the East Orange Animal Shelter in June and found horrific problems. During June, Elizabeth Animal Shelter illegally killed an owner’s two dogs before the 7 day state mandated hold period elapsed. In July and August, the Office of Animal Welfare inspected Linden Animal Control and requested Linden’s Health Officer shut the facility down. The Office of Animal Welfare also documented significant problems at Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter in July and the problems continue to exist today. Local animal activists in Montclair documented Montclair Township Animal Shelter violating New Jersey animals shelter laws, such as failing to maintain adequate temperatures in the facility, using toxic solutions of chemicals causing burns and possibly lung injuries to shelter animals, and failing to provide prompt veterinary care. As a a result of these events, animal activists in New Jersey are becoming aware of the crisis in our state’s animal shelters.

New Jersey Animal Shelter Laws Are Pretty Good

New Jersey’s animal shelter laws are pretty good relative to other states. Our stray/hold period of seven days is longer than most states. New Jersey also prevents its shelters from killing owner surrendered pets immediately by requiring these animals be held 7 days or sent to rescue. Furthermore, state animal shelter laws require facilities to have a supervising veterinarian who approves a disease control program that addresses “both the animals’ physical and psychological well-being.” N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.9 also mandates “animals displaying signs of stress shall be provided with relief pursuant to the disease control and health care program.” New Jersey shelters must also keep their facilities clean and use solutions and products that will not harm the animals. Finally, specific rules exist to help ensure euthanasia is done as humanely as possible.

Local Boards of Health Fail Miserably at Enforcing New Jersey Animal Shelter Laws

New Jersey animal shelter laws are largely enforced by local boards of health rather than the New Jersey Department of Health’s Office of Animal Welfare. Under N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.2 (b), animal shelters must pass an annual inspection by the local health authority. The New Jersey Department of Health’s Office of Animal Welfare, which is tasked with ensuring sanitary and humane conditions exist at New Jersey’s animal shelters, also has the right under state law to inspect these facilities. In practice, the Office of Animal Welfare rarely inspects animal shelters. Ultimately, local municipalities through a recommendation by the local health authority or the state Office of Animal Welfare can revoke an animal shelter’s license.

The shocking conditions exposed this year at northern New Jersey animal shelters prove local health authorities cannot adequately enforce the state’s animal shelter laws. Prior to the NJ SPCA arresting Hunterdon Humane Animal Shelter’s Board President in January 2014, the Office of Animal Welfare issued a scathing inspection report on October 23, 2013. The inspection report noted Hunterdon Humane Animal Shelter housed sick and healthy cats together, kept cats with feces all over their feet and legs, failed to provide sick kittens covered in feces prompt vet care, allowed cats and kittens to have eye discharge so severe they couldn’t open their eyes, illegally killed animals before the 7 day hold period elapsed, and routinely used heart sticking to kill animals. Jersey Animal Coalition, which performed poorly in state Office of Animal Welfare inspections from 2005 – 2007, passed subsequent South Orange inspections and then miserably failed an Office of Animal Welfare inspection in March 2014. The inspection report noted sick/injured animals and animals under severe psychological stress were not treated, massive amounts of feces within and outside the facility, sick and healthy animals were housed together, no disease control program approved by a veterinarian, and animals not provided adequate amounts of water. The Office of Animal Welfare inspected East Orange Animal Shelter in June and reported animals inundated with a toxic feces and chemical filled soup, a fly infestation so severe that animals with open wounds and skin lesions were in danger of having maggots grow inside them, cats not provided with enough water and water they did have was contaminated with cat litter, and improper isolation of sick animals. Montclair’s Board of Health was “unable to locate” legally required inspections from 2010 and 2012, and took a grand total of an hour and 45 minutes and 60 minutes to conduct inspections in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Montclair’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee documented numerous problems going on for years, such as dogs exposed to the elements, animals left isolated for extended times, and water not being properly supplied to dogs and cats. In October, Clifton Animal Control allegedly forced an owner to surrender their dog and then illegally killed the family pet before the required 7 day hold period elapsed. Thus, we clearly see local boards of health cannot properly ensure New Jersey’s animal shelters are kept sanitary and run in a humane manner.

Reports of serious violations of state animal shelter laws at various central central New Jersey facilities show the problem exists throughout the state. Elizabeth Animal Shelter, which presumably passed the Elizabeth Board of Health’s annual inspections, apparently routinely illegally killed owner surrendered animals. Based on reports at the time, the Elizabeth Animal Shelter told a person surrendering two dogs, which he did not own, to bring the dogs in on their weekly kill day and the shelter executed the animals that very same day. Linden’s Board of Health failed to even perform legally required annual inspections of Linden Animal Control from 2007-2012. When the state Office of Animal Welfare inspected the facility on two occasions, the Office of Animal Welfare requested Linden close the facility immediately due to the horrific conditions. Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter inspections conducted by the Middlesex County Board of Health and Office of Animal Welfare turned up serious problems for years, but the very same local regulator continues to say everything is good. At the same time, activists documented terrible conditions and blatant violations of New Jersey animal shelter and federal controlled substance laws. As a result, local boards of health fail to do the necessary job of ensuring animal shelter laws are properly enforced.

The failure of local boards of health to properly enforce animal shelter laws is not surprising. In reality these entities are ill-equipped to inspect animal shelters. Local boards of health are used to inspecting places, such as restaurants, which are far different than animal shelters. In reality, animal shelters are more akin to hospitals than restaurants and other businesses local boards of health usually inspect. The New Jersey Department of of Health and several other public and private entities inspect health care facilities for compliance with state and federal laws at least annually. As a result, the New Jersey Department of Health’s Office of Animal Welfare should regulate the state’s animal shelters in a similar manner as the New Jersey Department of Health regulates hospitals and other health care facilities.

Local health departments are not independent from many of the shelters these agencies regulate. While local Health Officers must be licensed by the New Jersey Department of Health, these Health Officers and their personnel are employees of local governments. As such, these local health departments will typically not want to rock the boat. After all, would you want to tell the elected official, who is your boss, that his or her animal shelter failed to comply with New Jersey laws? Clearly, the costs to fix, which would either increase property taxes or reduce spending on other popular programs, and negative press hurt the reelection prospects of these local politicians. When you consider the state Office of Animal Welfare rarely performs independent inspections, local Health Officers have a strong incentive to not enforce New Jersey’s animal shelter laws. Thus, the system to regulate New Jersey’s animal shelters is set up to fail.

NJ SPCA Cannot Effectively Regulate Animal Shelters

The NJ SPCA, which are New Jersey’s animal police, has limited authority and will to clean up the state’s animal shelters. This private group, which holds police powers relating to animal cruelty law enforcement, typically handles animal shelters with kid gloves. For example, several people told me the NJ SPCA was notified of Jersey Animal Coalition’s problems years ago, but never acted until after the state Office of Animal Welfare and South Orange Board of Health asked the NJ SPCA to investigate Jersey Animal Coalition for animal neglect/cruelty last March. After seven months, the NJ SPCA has yet to conclude its investigation, but stated last May they would first work with the shelter to clean up its issues before bringing animal cruelty charges. Apparently, this cleanup never happened since Jersey Animal Coalition is closing and the NJ SPCA does not look like it will charge anyone. Similarly, the NJ SPCA’s Monmouth County guy, Buddy Amato, gave Helmetta Regional Animal shelter a glowing report in August despite numerous inspections, photos, and complaints proving otherwise. Subsequently, the NJ SPCA came to the shelter again and found major issues, but gave management 30-60 days to fix their problems. In 2012, Buddy Amato defended several Monmouth County towns who illegally killed feral cats before the state mandated 7 day hold period elapsed. Even when the NJ SPCA did take action against Hunterdon Humane Animal Shelter, the courts put the former Board President charged with animal cruelty back in charge. As a result, the NJ SPCA’s and the courts coddling of cruel animal shelter directors encourages all animals shelter directors to act in their own, rather than the animals, interest.

New Jersey Department of Health’s Office of Animal Welfare Needs to Directly Enforce State Animal Shelter Laws

The Office of Animal Welfare needs to dramatically increase the number of its animal shelter inspections. From January 1, 2013 through August 6, 2014, the Office of Animal Welfare only inspected six different animal shelters out of one hundred plus facilities in the state housing dogs or cats. The Office of Animal Welfare only has one inspector, Linda Frese, to police over one hundred animal shelters plus countless pet shops statewide. Luckily, Linda Frese performs thorough inspections and does terrific work. However, Ms. Frese needs lots of help to ensure all shelters are inspected properly. Given the crisis at our state’s animal shelters, the Office of Animal Welfare needs to hire enough inspectors to ensure every animal shelter in the state is inspected on a quarterly basis. Additionally, the Office of Animal Welfare should conduct these inspections without notifying local health departments to ensure these are truly surprise inspections.

New Jersey must pass new legislation providing the Office of Animal Welfare full power to close down terrible animal shelters. Under current law, the Office of Animal Welfare can only recommend that a municipality revoke an animal shelter’s license. As a result, local politicians currently can allow terrible animals shelters to continue neglecting their animals. Thus, the independent state Office of Animal Welfare must hold this authority to ensure New Jersey animal shelters are run properly.

Companion Animal Protection Act Needs to Become State Law

New Jersey shelter laws and the Office of Animal Welfare encourage shelter killing. Animal shelters in the Garden State may kill animals for any reason after seven days. For far too many shelters it is simply easier and cheaper to kill animals after one week. After all, if you have fewer animals in your facility you don’t have to clean, feed, and provide veterinary care to those animals. In fact, the Office of Animal Welfare actually encourages shelters to kill and advises municipalities to contract with kill rather than no kill shelters. As a result, New Jersey must pass legislation to force shelters to stop killing and start saving their animals.

The Companion Animal Protection Act (“CAPA”) needs to become law to ensure shelters save rather than take lives. CAPA requires shelters to follow many parts of the no kill equation, which is a series of programs proven to reduce or actually end the killing of savable animals. Specifically, CAPA requires animal shelters/municipalities do the following:

  1. Implement TNR and prohibit anti-feral cat policies
  2. Develop detailed animal care protocols for all animals, which includes nursing mothers, unweaned kittens and puppies, and animals which are old, sick, injured or needing therapeutic exercise
  3. Clean animal enclosures at least two times per day to maintain proper hygiene and be welcoming to prospective adopters
  4. Not kill any animal a rescue is willing to take
  5. Prohibit banning of rescues unless the rescue is currently charged with or convicted of animal cruelty/neglect
  6. Contact all rescues at least two business days before an animal is killed
  7. Match lost pet reports with animals in shelter and post stray animals on the internet immediately to help find lost pets owners
  8. Promote animals for adoption using local media and the internet
  9. Adopt animals out seven days a week for at least six hours each day, which includes evenings and weekends when potential adopters are likely to visit
  10. Not have discriminatory adoption policies based on breed/age/species/appearance (i.e. can’t prohibit pit bull, elderly pet, etc. adoptions)
  11. Offer low cost spay/neuter services, substantive volunteer opportunities to the public, and pet owner surrender prevention services
  12. Not kill any animals when empty cages exist, enclosures can be shared with other animals, or foster homes are available
  13. Shelter Executive Director must certify they have no other alternative when killing/euthanizing an animal
  14. Publicly display animal shelter intake and disposition statistics (i.e. numbers of animals taken in, adopted, returned to owner, killed, etc) for the prior year
  15. Provide the local government and the public access to the intake and disposition statistics each month
  16. Pet licensing revenues must be used to fund low cost spay/neuter and medical care for shelter animals rather than go to other government uses

Passing CAPA will require a huge fight as many New Jersey’s animal shelters along with the Humane Society of the United States (“HSUS”) and ASPCA will lobby against these common sense reforms. HSUS and the ASPCA fought similar reform efforts in many other states, such as New York, Minnesota, and California. However, this is a fight we must take on. CAPA, quarterly shelter inspections by the Office of Animal Welfare, and giving the Office of Animal Welfare the power to shut shelters down will spur massive improvements in the state’s animal shelters. Non-compliant municipalities and private animal shelters will face stiff penalties and therefore will dramatically change their ways.

As the past year showed us, we no longer can wait for municipalities and animals shelters to police themselves. Now is the time for a new sheriff to ride into town to bring law and order to our animal shelters. We can make this happen by demanding our state senators and local assemblymen/assemblywomen pass these laws to improve our shelter system. State Senator, Linda Greenstein, seems quite amenable to reforming our state’s shelter system and is someone we should work with.  Animal lovers are a huge voting block and New Jersey politicians better take us seriously. Enough is enough and if the politicians won’t help, we will show them the door. We can do this so let’s get to work!

Helmetta’s Hellhole of a Shelter

Recently, Helmetta Regional Animal shelter has come under fire. A newly created Facebook page, Reform the Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter, and web page details very concerning issues on a daily basis. The documentation includes terrible inspection reports, shocking photos, and detailed accounts from adopters, volunteers and former employees. Most impressively, the Facebook and web pages clearly articulate these points and come across as highly credible.

Helmetta’s Questionable Shelter Project

The shelter opened up in 2011 with a lot of publicity. Helmetta issued $1.9 million in bonds to fund the construction. Mayor Nancy Martin at the time stated “The borough took an area which was in need of redevelopment and built a beautiful state of the art facility that serves 21 Middlesex and Monmouth County municipalities.” Helmetta uses the facility to shelter its homeless animals and numerous other municipalities in exchange for animal control contract fees.

Mayor Nancy Martin hired friends and family to run the shelter. Nancy Martin, who also serves as tax collector of Perth Amboy, hired Perth Amboy Animal Shelter’s former shelter’s managers, Michal Cielesz, and her husband, Richard Ceilesz, to run the new shelter. The couple killed 37% of Perth Amboy Animal Shelter’s dogs and cats per the shelter’s report to New Jersey’s Office of Animal Welfare during their last year in 2010 compared to the new management’s 4% euthanasia rate in 2013. However, Perth Amboy’s police department records show the Cielesz’s killed 43% of the dogs and cats impounded in 2010. Additionally, the Perth Amboy police department reported only 12 dogs and cats were adopted out of 507 dogs and cats impounded during the Cielesz’s last year running the Perth Amboy Animal Shelter. Mayor Nancy Martin also landed her son, Brandon Metz, the head Animal Control Officer job at the shelter and even got the town to approve her son receiving $50 per animal control call “after normal business hours (which may be as early as 3 pm on weekdays and weekends based on some animal control contracts). According to a 2011 town newsletter, the Mayor’s son also receives $1,000 per animal control contract. To further support her son, Mayor Martin even got the town’s taxpayers to pay her son additional hourly wages to clean kennels. Mayor Martin’s son also serves as Borough Laborer, Water Meter Reader, and Certified Recycling Coordinator. As a result, Mayor Martin appears to use a significant amount of the shelter’s funding to pay her friends and family.

The shelter brings in a significant amount of money to Helmetta. In 2013, the shelter earned $415,959 in revenue from its animal control contracts and shelter operations and only incurred $280,125 in related expenses. As a result, Helmetta earned a $135,834 profit from running its shelter. However, the shelter also has debt service costs to cover from Helmetta’s $1.9 billion bond issuance to build the shelter. Per borough officials, Helmetta pays $80,000 – $90,000 of debt service costs each year resulting in the shelter’s net positive cash flow of only around $45,834 – $55,834. The shelter would have negative cash flow of approximately $63,000 – $73,000 without other fees primarily from dogs transported for adoption from out of state shelters. As a result, Nancy Martin’s shelter project has a very thin margin of error to financially succeed.

Helmetta’s Flawed Financial Model Requires Running a Regressive Shelter

Helmetta’s shelter was designed as a profit making enterprise. In a 2011 newsletter to Helmetta residents, Mayor Nancy Martin argued Helmetta was building the shelter to provide a “source of revenue to keep the tax base stable” after the town’s previously hyped real estate redevelopment project on the property fell apart. Mayor Martin also stated each additional animal control contract brought “additional revenue” and was “pure profit.” Thus, the town and the Mayor’s son were to profit from homeless animals in Middlesex and Monmouth Counties.

Helmetta entered into animal control contracts with too many municipalities. To a certain extent, entering into multiple contracts makes financial sense as the revenues earned from such contracts more adequately cover fixed overhead costs, such as the Executive Director’s salary and utilities. However, Helmetta took this to an extreme and impounds too many animals for the space it has. For example, in 2012 Helmetta impounded 483 local dogs. Based on the shelter’s assumed capacity of 33 dogs, these dogs would only have 25 days before no space was left for these animals. To make matters worse, the shelter’s animal control contracts pay Helmetta on a per animal basis and encourage impounding more animals. Furthermore, Mayor Martin’s son, Brandon Metz, opposes TNR in most places and conveniently allows him to bring in more of his $50 per hour “after normal business hours” fees. As a result, Helmetta and the Mayor’s son literally profit off taking in too many animals and killing them.

Helmetta’s original shelter projections grossly underestimated the cost to properly care for animals. In the 2011 newsletter, Helmetta only forecasted total shelter costs, which includes expenses unrelated to animal care, would equal $57 per animal. Even the most efficient and effective shelters, such as KC Pet Project and Nevada Humane Society, incur much higher costs. For example, if Helmetta spent the $218-$395 per animal as these shelters pay, Helmetta’s originally projected $58,000 profit from running the shelter would turn into a $204,000 – $602,000 loss. These private shelters make up for their funding deficiency through fundraising, but Helmetta cannot receive these kind of monetary donations as a government run shelter. As a result of this gross underestimation of sheltering costs, the shelter needed to find other ways to make money to support the Mayor’s grand plan.

Helmetta’s Money Making Rescue Operation

Helmetta’s shelter transports massive numbers of easy to adopt dogs and puppies each year from southern states to the detriment of local dogs. Per the facility’s 2012 Shelter/Pound Annual Report, Helmetta transported 400 dogs in from other communities, 382 of which came from out of state. These additional animals reduce the time dogs have to stay in the shelter before space runs out from 25 to 14 days based on the assumptions above. Furthermore, the shelter impounded many more dogs in 2013 presumably due to increased transports. Based on the 1,296 dogs impounded in 2013 and the assumed capacity of 33 dogs, dogs would only have 9 days before space ran out at the shelter. Thus, Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter significantly reduces the chances of the contracting towns dogs from finding loving homes by transporting massive numbers of out of state dogs.

Transporting animals increases risk of disease at the destination shelter. Transported dogs often bring new and virulent diseases to shelters. The shelters exporting the dogs usually lack proper disease prevention/containment procedures. For example, the source shelter’s need to transport (i.e. overcrowding, lack of resources) often leads to animals being more likely to come down with serious diseases. Additionally, the trip to the new shelter can cause the animals to get sick due to overcrowding in vehicles and stress. Making matters worse, young puppies, whose mothers might not be vaccinated, transported on such trips do not have fully developed immune systems may be even more susceptible to getting sick. Dr. Kate Hurley, Director of the University of California Davis Shelter Medicine Program, who is one of the nation’s leading shelter medicine experts, argues shelters, such as Helmetta, must “have adequate veterinary resources and isolation rooms to
quarantine the animals.” Thus, Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter must have a top notch facility and procedures to transport hundreds of out of state animals each year.

Helmetta should incur significant costs for transporting and caring for these dogs brought to New Jersey. The town’s accounting records show Helmetta pays $400 to transport 10-13 dogs and puppies or approximately $35 per dog/puppy. Maddie’s Fund shelter financial management template estimates dogs staying at the shelter 21 days on average should cost $245 ($16 to feed, $50 to spay/neuter, $53 to vaccinate/de-worm, $66 to hold in facility, $10 for dog supplies and $50 to treat medical problems) to properly care for assuming all animals require medical treatment. Similarly, puppies staying at the shelter for only 14 days should cost $187 ($5 to feed, $50 to spay/neuter, $54 to vaccinate/de-worm, $18 to hold in facility, $10 for dog supplies and $50 to treat medical problems). The town’s adoption fees of $200 per puppy, $150 per vaccinated dog and $100 per unvaccinated dog would result in the following losses per animal:

1) Puppy – $22 loss
2) Dog ($150 fee) – $130 loss
3) Dog ($100 fee) – $180 loss

Helmetta’s shelter must cut corners to make a profit off the transported dogs and puppies. The shelter does not vaccinate animals upon intake or spay/neuter dogs and cats it adopts out. Additionally, Helmetta does not have enough staff to care for its animals. The National Animal Control kennel staffing guidelines argue Helmetta should have 15 kennel staff caring for the 182 animals it had at the shelter on July 16, 2014. However, the Middlesex County Department of Health found only 4 employees cleaned the facility in the morning and either the shelter director or another employee, such as an animal control officer, cared for animals after 12 noon when the shelter had a similar number of animals.  Skimping on cleaning staff leads to the following heartbreaking images at Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter:

Helmetta Filth 3

Helmetta Filth 2

Helmetta Filth 1

Furthermore, Helmetta provides little to no medical care for its animals. For example, the shelter’s veterinarian, Dr. Ehab Ibraheim, only visits the shelter monthly for a paid inspection. While Helmetta’s contracts allow the shelter to bill the municipalities for veterinary costs, the shelter does not profit from providing care and the extra fees could encourage these municipalities to not renew their contracts. The billings from several large contracting municipalities show Helmetta rarely provides veterinary care. Additionally, numerous adopters have come forward complaining of gravely sick animals to the point the borough council had to vote to refund the adoption fees. Countless images show the ramifications of not providing proper veterinary care for the shelter’s animals:

Helmetta sick animals 2

Helmetta sick animals

Helmetta sick animals 3

Helmetta’s cutting corners turns its shelter’s financial performance around. The $22 loss per transported puppy transforms into $142 profit per puppy when you don’t employ enough kennel staff and withhold vaccinations, veterinary care, and dog supplies. Similarly, the $130 loss per transported dog with a $150 adoption fee turns into a $33 profit per dog when proper care is not provided. Thus, Helmetta literally makes money off animals suffering.

State and Local Inspections Consistently Reveal Significant Problems

Helmetta’s shelter performed poorly in two New Jersey Office of Animal Welfare inspections. In October 2011, the inspector found the new facility’s kennel flooring was not impervious to moisture and therefore a disease vector. Furthermore, the inspection report noted kennels were not physically cleaned due to lacking enough staff. Additionally, Helmetta did not use the proper cleaning solution when they did happen to attempt to disinfect animal enclosures. The inspection report also noted the shelter’s “Veterinarian of Record” did not approve the shelter’s disease control program and the facility lacked a dedicated isolation area to prevent the spread of disease. The inspection report also noted improper euthanasia documentation and record keeping. In a follow-up inspection a month later, these same problems persisted.

Middlesex County Health Department inspections in October 2012 and July 2014 also documented widespread violations of New Jersey shelter laws. Both inspections revealed the “Veterinarian of Record” did not design, review or approve the facility’s disease control program or individual animal treatment protocols. The inspection reports also revealed kennel flooring continued to allow moisture to build up creating a ripe environment for disease to spread. Additionally, shelter management failed to isolate sick animals and keep proper records. The July 2014 report also noted management failed to properly clean the facility and even used food cans as water bowls. If lack of veterinary care at Helmetta wasn’t bad enough, the shelter transported dogs from out of state without legally required health certificates from a veterinarian. Thus, Helmetta continued to allow serious problems to persist for nearly three years at their “state-of the art facility.”

The repeated violations of New Jersey shelter law are consistent with Helmetta’s profit off the back of animals financial model. Hiring more people to clean, having a veterinarian approving a disease control program and providing proper care to animals, building a proper isolation area all cost money. Additionally, inaccurate record keeping could allow the shelter to kill animals before the 7 day required hold period, over-bill municipalities and even allow employees to sell pets themselves. As a result of Helmetta’s stated goal of profiting from the shelter are consistent with these recurring violations.

NJ SPCA Has No Credibility on the Helmetta Shelter Issue

Monmouth County SPCA’s Chief Humane Law Enforcement Officer’s recent email to Mayor Martin destroyed the NJ SPCA’s credibility on this issue. In the letter, Buddy Amato praised Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter’s cleanliness, staff, and shelter operations contradicting numerous inspection reports and countless other accounts. Helmetta subsequently posted the letter on their web site to discredit activists trying to reform this disgraceful “shelter.” Apparently, Buddy Amato did not expect his letter to cause him “embarrassment” and told Mayor Martin to remove the letter from Helmetta’s web site. Apart from the numerous grammatical errors in Buddy Amato’s emails, the “inspection” itself lacked detail and hardly represents anything close to a thorough inspection. As a result, no one should take this report seriously.

Unfortunately, Buddy Amato, despite working for the no kill Monmouth County SPCA, has a history of defending heinous actions by animal control officers. In 2012, Buddy Amato defended 3 Monmouth County towns who routinely killed stray cats before the legal 7 day stray hold period ended. According to Buddy Amato, there was “no cruelty” and towns just had “administrative issues” and “no one should lose their job.” In what world, is illegally killing a healthy cat not cruelty? If you or I trapped a stray cat and injected it with poison, Buddy Amato certainly would prosecute us and rightly so. Apparently Buddy Amato and the Monmouth County SPCA believe illegally killing animals is fine as long as its done by their friends in the business. Thus, Buddy Amato’s glowing report on Helmetta’s shelter lacks any credibility given it comes from the “no one should lose their job” for illegally killing healthy cats guy.

The NJ SPCA conducted an official investigation subsequent to the Buddy Amato debacle, but it raised more questions than provided answers. Specifically, the NJ SPCA prepared a report and issued 6 warnings, but will not release it to the public. Instead, the state’s animal police gave Helmetta 30-60 days to correct their problems. Helmetta has known about the significant issues at their shelter for 3 years from various local and state inspections. Frankly, the NJ SPCA’s coddling of shelters is disgraceful and enough is enough. Given the NJ SPCA’s own guy in Monmouth County went to bat for the shelter recently, how confident should we be that the NJ SPCA will really make sure the shelter gets cleaned up?

Middlesex County Board of Health Cannot Be Trusted to Do the Right Thing

The Middlesex County Board of Health has a history of being anti-animal. Despite all major animal welfare organizations, such as HSUS, ASPCA, Best Friends and no kill advocates, supporting TNR, Middlesex County Board of Health opposes TNR. Even worse, the Middlesex County Board of Health parrots false claims by cat hating groups, such as the American Bird Conservancy Association and PETA, who actively advocate rounding up and killing cats. To further destroy their credibility, the Middlesex Board of Health claims they advocate trapping and adopting out feral cats (impossible if cat is truly feral). Additionally, the Middlesex County Board of Health openly opposed the construction of a Middlesex County animal shelter in a letter to Mayor Martin. Interestingly, three years later Helmetta opened up its own for profit county animals shelter which fulfilled Middlesex County Board of Health’s catch and kill wish for feral cats.

Helmetta traps

As a result, we must view the Middlesex County Board of Health’s regulatory actions in light of these conflicts of interest.

The Middlesex County Board of Health’s response to Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter’s problems are distressing. Despite Helmetta violating New Jersey animal shelter laws for nearly three years, the Middlesex County Board of Health Director, Lester Jones, said do not worry about it after the issues became widely publicized in August. In fact, Lester Jones performed another inspection about a week later without the Office of Animal Welfare and miraculously reported improvements. After the NJ SPCA got involved one month later, Lester Jones performed another inspection and suddenly the same problems from before recurred, such as failing to isolate sick animals, out of state dogs without proper records, filthy conditions, and improper animal and medical record keeping. Remarkably, four days later Lester and Company inspected the shelter again and said things were greatly improving. Sorry Lester, I and many others are very worried about the conditions at this shelter. Given Middlesex County Board of Health’s failure to take effective action for three years and the conflicts of interest above, we cannot take this agency seriously. Time after time, local health departments fail to inspect shelters properly and ensure problems get fixed. Frankly, the Middlesex County Board of Health needs to request the state Office of Animal Welfare inspect the facility and then get completely out of the way. The Middlesex County Board of Health must have no involvement in the inspection and subsequent corrective actions for this intervention to have any credibility.

Helmetta Attempts to Cover Up its Disgraceful Shelter and Government

Helmetta’s Mayor and Borough Council are trying to hide the shelter’s and local government’s embarrassing facts from the public. During the summer, a former adopter, who adopted a gravely ill puppy from the shelter, took a video of an OPRA request he served at the borough’s municipal building. A part time police officer, who is also collecting a public pension, angrily told the man to stop taking the video and the officer said he did not need to follow the US Constitution. After the video went viral and Helmetta faced wide criticism, the officer resigned. As a response, Helmetta drafted an ordinance to ban all videos and pictures in public buildings, which would include the animal shelter, without a permit approved by the borough. The ACLU of New Jersey stated the proposed ordinance is illegal and would be subject to a legal challenge. In addition to making the borough’s taxpayers pay unnecessary legal expenses, Helmetta is clearly trying to operate under a veil of secrecy. Most disturbingly, Helmetta’s proposed ordinance is a blatant attempt to prevent the public from seeing the consequences of the borough’s for profit shelter.

Helmetta and Other Contracted Municipalities Residents Must Take Action

Residents in towns contracting for animal control and sheltering with Helmetta must demand their governments terminate these contracts. Clearly, Helmetta has no intention of running an animal shelter for the right reasons. The shelter’s stated goal, which is to run a for profit shelter, conflicts with the shelter’s duty to properly care for the animals. Repeated New Jersey shelter law violations over the course of three years prove the town’s elected officials and shelter management do not intend to improve the situation. Additionally, the lack of proper record keeping calls into question the validity of the amounts, which are largely based off these records, these municipalities taxpayers are paying Helmetta. Sayreville, the largest municipality contracting with Helmetta, seriously is considering terminating their arrangement with the shelter. Residents of these municipalities need to openly campaign to remove these politicians if these disgraceful arrangements continue.

Helmetta never needed to build an animal shelter. Based on New Jersey communities with similar demographics, the borough Helmetta should only need to impound around 15 animals a year from its borders. Assuming an average length of stay in the shelter of 30 days, the borough would typically only need to house 1 animal at a time. Literally, someone could foster the borough’s stray animals in their house. Helmetta residents need to question why the town incurred $1.9 million of debt to build a county animal shelter and allowed atrocities to occur at this facility when Helmetta itself barely had to house any animals.

The Mayor previously brought shame on the town by requiring police officers to aggressively write speeding tickets for nonresidents. Now, three officers in a police force of around six are suing Helmetta about this issue. Even worse, one of the lawsuits alleges discrimination based on one officer’s sexual orientation to force him to quit. Like the animal shelter, Mayor Martin tried to use the police department as a revenue source to reduce the need to raise property taxes. As with the animal shelter, the Mayor’s plan appears illegal and highly unethical and has brought negative publicity and embarrassment to this once quiet town.

Helmetta residents must recall Mayor Nancy Martin and all her allies on the Borough Council. At a certain point, Helmetta residents have to say enough is enough. Residents can no longer tolerate elected officials who run the town to the ground and then try to pass laws to hide these facts. Unfortunately, corruption and cruelty to animals go hand and hand in Helmetta. To end the cruelty at the animal shelter, residents must remove the corrupt politicians who caused it.

Linden’s Disgraceful Pound Needs Drastic Change

Recently, Linden Animal Control has come under scrutiny. On April 15, 2014 Linden resident, Robert Scutro, and several other people raised serious concerns about the operation to Linden’s City Council (see 2 hour and 21 minute mark of this video). Residents complained about pound staff spraying feces and urine filled water onto dogs, terrible sanitary conditions, providing little to no medical care, and doing next to nothing to save the animals lives. Despite assurances that the City Council was working on these problems, a news story reveals these problems still exist 3 months later.

Linden Animal Control Has Funding to Run an Excellent Shelter

Linden Animal Control spends significant amounts of money on its animal control operation. The pound, which is separate from the nearby Friends of Linden Animal Shelter, impounds animals from Linden and receives $126,000 to also take in animals from Clark, Roselle, Winfield, and Fanwood. In total, the pound spends approximately $222,000 per year. This equates to $1.97 per resident and $730 per dog and cat impounded. As a comparison, Nathan Winograd provided top notch care and achieved no kill status at the Tompkins County SPCA with funding of only $1.85 per resident. Similarly, KC Pet Project, which runs Kansas City, Missouri’s open admission shelter, reached no kill status despite only receiving total revenue of $225 per impounded dog and cat. Thus, Linden Animal Control should be a model shelter with its plentiful funding.

Heartless and Illegal Killing of a Dog Before 7 Day Hold Period Elapsed

Last September, the John family’s 15 year old pit bull escaped from its yard and Linden Animal Control ordered the dog killed within the legally required 7 day stray hold period. On the day the dog escaped, the family called Linden Animal Control, but Linden Animal Control failed to call them back. The family visited the local police department the next day and were told Linden Animal Contol took the dog to an animal hospital. Unfortunately, the animal hospital was closed and the dog was killed by the time the John family visited the animal hospital. Linden Animal Control decided not to provide medical care and instead told the animal hospital to kill the dog long before the legally required 7 day stray hold period elapsed. Linden’s Health Officer, Nancy Koblis, claimed the dog was in “respiratory distress”, but the medical records only stated the dog was “underweight, had a small tumor, and was walking with difficulty.”

Linden’s Health Officer’s reason for illegally killing the dog is unjustified. N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.9 specifically states stray animals cannot be euthanized for any reason during the 7 day stray/hold period:

Sick, diseased, injured or lame animals shall be provided with at least prompt, basic veterinary care (that is, to alleviate pain and suffering) or euthanized, unless such action is inconsistent with the purposes for which the animal was obtained and is being held; provided, however, that this provision shall not affect compliance with N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.16, which requires all stray animals to be held for seven days.

Additionally, the medical records do not indicate the dog was hopelessly suffering. At best, the records showed an elderly animal that required care from a loving shelter worker. Clearly, Ms. Koblis did not want to spend any money on the animal despite animal control’s ample funding. Apparently, she thought this animal’s life had no value and did not care if the dog’s distraught owners were looking for their family member. Shame on you Nancy Koblis for breaking New Jersey law and being heartless.

Health Officer Needs to Go

Linden’s Health Officer failed to ensure the pound got a legally required annual inspection from 2007-2013. Nancy Koblis’s only explanation was “it fell by the wayside.” On what planet can someone keep their job after they broke state law for 7 consecutive years? Clearly, Ms. Koblis had so little regard for the animals and state law that she failed to ensure an inspection got done for 7 years.

The City of Elizabeth’s inspection of Linden’s pound on May 9 revealed 23 violations. The violations included “no current certificate of veterinary supervision of the facility” and “no adequate ventilation around the interior of the facility.” Interestingly, this inspection occurred after the April 15, 2014 City Council meeting and was performed by a different city’s health department. Considering Linden Animal Control had over 3 weeks to clean up their act, these results are very sad. Even more sad is the fact the violations were documented by a local health department rather than the state Office of Animal Welfare. The Office of Animal Welfare tends to conduct much more thorough inspections and the results would likely be worse.

The reporter’s visit to the shelter in July showed little improvement has been made. Crumbling doors and fencing, rusted animal enclosures, and standing feces and urine filled water were clearly visible. Nancy Koblis said “we’re working on fixing these things.” Really? You’ve been aware since an April 15 City Council meeting and a May 9 inspection and these problems still exist months later? When will they be fixed? Probably not soon if you ask me.

The shelter also lacks reliable phone service and a computer. However, Koblis says that is not her problem. If the town owns the property, is it not her job to get that person to fix it? The buck stops with Nancy Koblis as she is responsible for the shelter.

Koblis’s lackadaisical attitude towards complying with New Jersey shelter laws is shocking. The Health Officer admits her ventilation system and air conditioning systems do not work right. Under New Jersey shelter law, temperatures in animal enclosures must not go below 45 degrees or exceed 85 degrees. Unfortunately, Ms. Koblis’s remarks do not give me much comfort the shelter complies with that requirement. Furthermore, the Health Officer says don’t worry about us not having a legally mandated isolation area, which is needed to prevent the spread of disease. Why? According to Koblis, the animal control officers can miraculously spot contagious disease (despite frequently not being at the pound) before it can spread and get the animals to a veterinarian. I also hear the pound staff can walk on water and sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Health Officer’s promises are empty and hollow. According to Ms. Koblis, they are going to make more visible attempts to reunite lost pets with owners, but said they’ve “done it all along, but not as much as people would like us to do.” Reuniting lost pets with owners is a primary responsibility of pounds and animal shelters. If you weren’t always doing it, you weren’t always doing your job. Also, what exactly are you going to do? Scan animals in the field for microchips, check license databases in the field, and knock on doors in the neighborhood to find the owners? Unfortunately, her only answer was she’d have a rescue group come in to take photos that pound staff should already be taking. Given this pound generally only holds animals for 7 days, losing critical time waiting for a rescue group to come and take photographs will likely mean some animals will die. Again, why can’t a shelter with such a large amount of funding not do this?

Koblis’s attitude towards adoptions demand her immediate removal of having anything to do with the animal shelter. Specifically, Koblis states she doesn’t want to adopt animals out and provide even basic vetting:

“We are not an adoption facility,” she said. “We do animal control. We hold the dog for at least seven days. Hopefully, the owner will come and look for it.

“If we adopt, we adopt them out with the understanding to the people that we do not vet the dogs. We can’t tell you if its a healthy dog or if it had shots. That’s why we’d rather go to the groups. We don’t have the socializing mechanism that the adoption groups have.”

First, the Health Officer states their efforts to reunite lost pets with their families consists of simply holding the dog. If you don’t know your dog or cat is here, that is your problem. Second, despite receiving over 3 times the funding per dog and cat as KC Pet Project, which is renowned at their efforts to get animals adopted, they “are not an adoption facility.” Basically, she is saying “we don’t want you to adopt from us and if you cooky animal lovers really want the animal go make a rescue do the work we get paid to do.” Let me break something to you, Nancy, your operation gets paid to do animal control AND sheltering. $730 of funding per dog and cat demands you do far more than sitting on your butts and hope a rescue comes in and saves the day. Many other shelters receive far less funding than this and rescue efforts are better spent there. Frankly, your attitude reeks of laziness which is consistent with you’re failure to have your shelter inspected for 7 consecutive years, allowing the facility to fall apart, providing little to no medical care, illegally killing animals, and letting animals to live in a shelter filled with feces and urine soup.

The dogs receive little to no socialization at the shelter. According to Koblis, the staff do not know histories of the dogs and therefore can’t interact with them. Ms. Koblis may find this surprising, but any shelter impounding strays does not know the animals histories. It is your job to evaluate the animals and develop a treatment plan for any animals not currently adoptable. Additionally, N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.9 states the facility’s supervising veterinarian must develop a disease control program that addresses “both the animals’ physical and psychological well-being.” N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.9 also mandates “animals displaying signs of stress shall be provided with relief pursuant to the disease control and health care program.” Finally, N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.9 states socialization is one example of such a program. Logically, dogs are social animals and should have positive human and canine interaction. Thus, Koblis fails again to understand or even try to comply with New Jersey shelter law.

Koblis doesn’t want volunteers to help her lazy staff at the shelter. The Health Officer claims they can’t use volunteers due to insurance reasons and lack of staff to oversee them. In reality, municipal shelters across New Jersey and the country have volunteer programs. People can sign liability waivers. Apparently, Koblis believes letting the animals live in filth is preferable to having unsupervised volunteers. First, the shelter has plenty of funding to pay a volunteer coordinator. Second, shelter work is not rocket science. Once a volunteer is trained you don’t need to hover over them like a taskmaster. Let’s be real. She doesn’t want volunteers to report the disgraceful conditions now being exposed. This a recurring feature of regressive shelters and pounds.

Linden’s mayor also doesn’t understand New Jersey shelter law. The mayor said its ok to spray water (possibly with other animals feces and urine in it) on dogs in their kennels on a “hot day and they enjoy it.” Sorry Mr. Mayor, N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.6 states “primary enclosures shall be structurally sound and maintained in good repair so as to enable animals to remain clean and dry.” Furthermore, the Association of Shelter Veterinarians “Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters” states the same thing as follows:

The primary enclosure should be structurally sound and maintained in safe, working condition to properly confine animals, prevent injury, keep other animals out, and enable animals to remain dry and clean.

Thus, Linden’s Mayor should abstain from commenting on matters he knows little about.

Office of Animal Welfare and NJ SPCA Need to Step In and Make Change Happen Now

Linden Animal Control needs a wake-up call from the authorities. Clearly, the City will not do this on their own based on the months of inaction and attitude of their officials. The Office of Animal Welfare should do a thorough inspection to fully document the issues. Furthermore, the NJ SPCA needs to charge the City of Linden and any responsible individuals with animal cruelty if evidence supports their case. Unfortunately, the NJ SPCA has handled most animal shelters with kid gloves for far too long. If the Union County NJ SPCA chapter does not take action, the state chapter needs to take disciplinary action against the Union County chapter. Without strong actions from the authorities, these conditions will continue to persist in Linden and elsewhere. Enough is enough, and the time for action is now.