Gloucester County’s Grotesque Pet Killing Factory

In 2015, Gloucester County Animal Shelter made headlines for all the wrong reasons. First, the shelter illegally killed an owner’s cat after being at the shelter for just one day. Subsequent to this incident, the New Jersey Department of Health inspected Gloucester County Animal Shelter and reported the following:

  1. Shelter illegally killed 384 animals during the seven day protection period
  2. Facility allowed disease to spread like wildfire due to the lack of proper policies
  3. Shelter did not have a legally required disease control program under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian
  4. Facility illegally used intraperitoneal injections of Fatal Plus as its primary method to kill cats despite this procedure potentially taking up to 30 minutes
  5. Shelter did not weigh animals it killed
  6. Facility did not confirm animals were dead after killing

As a result of these events, the owner of the illegally killed cat and Stu Goldman, who is the former President and Chief Humane Law Enforcement Officer for the Monmouth County SPCA and former Chief Training Officer for the NJ SPCA, filed a lawsuit against the shelter for animal cruelty.

Did Gloucester County Animal Shelter fix all of its problems? Is the Gloucester County Animal Shelter still high kill?

Statistics Reveal a High Kill Shelter

Gloucester County Animal Shelter operated a cat slaughterhouse last year. You can view the actual records here. Overall, 68% of the cats the shelter took in during 2016 were killed, died or went missing. Typically, reclaimed animals have licenses and/or microchips and a shelter has to do little work to save these pets. If we just count cats the shelter had to find new homes for, 72% of cats were killed, died or went missing. Thus, nearly 3 out of 4 cats requiring a new home never made it out of this so-called shelter alive.

To make matters worse, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed huge numbers of cats. During the year, the shelter killed 1,635 cats. Another 191 cats died and 9 additional cats went missing. Thus, around 5 cats on average lost their lives each day of the year at this pet killing factory.

Gloucester County Animal Shelter also killed huge numbers of dogs last year. You can view the actual records here. Overall, 17% of dogs lost their lives. If we just count dogs the shelter had to find new homes for, 36% of dogs were killed or died. In other words, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed more than 1 out of 3 dogs requiring new homes. Thus, Gloucester County Animal Shelter was far from a safe place for dogs.

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The shelter killed massive numbers of pit bull like dogs. Overall, 28% of pit bulls lost their lives. If we just look at pit bulls Gloucester County Animal Shelter had to find new homes for, 50% of these dogs lost their lives. To put it another way, pit bulls requiring a new home only had a 50-50 chance of making it out of the shelter alive. Thus, Gloucester County Animal Shelter was a death trap for pit bull like dogs.

Gloucester County Animal Shelter also killed too many small dogs. While the small dog death rate of 6% and nonreclaimed death rate of 14% were significantly lower than the corresponding figures for other types of dogs, they were still too high. For example, small dogs never pose a significant risk to adult people and no shelter should kill these animals for aggression. For example, Austin Animal Center only euthanized 2% of its adult Chihuahuas last year. Similarly, the Elizabeth Animal Shelter only euthanized 3% of all of its small dogs and only 6% of its nonreclaimed small dogs. As a result, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed its small dogs at around two to three times the rate of other shelters doing a good job with these types of animals.

The shelter also killed many other medium to large size breeds of dogs. Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed 18% of all and 43% of nonreclaimed other medium to large size breeds of dog. In other words, the shelter killed nearly 1 out of 2 other medium to large size breeds of dogs requiring new homes. Thus, Gloucester County Animal Shelter was not a safe place for any medium to large size dog.

GCAS 2016 Dog Statistics

Gloucester County Animal Shelter’s length of stay data reveals it quickly killed dogs and cats. On average, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed cats, all dogs, pit bull like dogs and small dogs after 18 days and other dog breeds after 19 days.

Also, the shelter took 77 days on average to adopt each cat out. Given Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed so many cats (i.e. the remaining cats likely were highly adoptable animals), the shelter should have adopted out these cats much more quickly.

2016 GCAS Length of Stay.jpg

2016 GCAS Dog Breeds LOS.jpg

To make matters worse, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed dogs with empty kennels. Based on an equation for determining a shelter’s population, we can estimate the Gloucester County Animal Shelter’s average dog population during the year. Using the 989 annual dog intake figure and the 12 day average length of stay for all dogs, we can estimate Gloucester County Animal Shelter had on average 33 dogs in its shelter during 2016. The New Jersey Department of Health’s October 21, 2015 inspection report on Gloucester County Animal Shelter (29 dogs at facility) indicates this estimate was reasonable. 33 dogs only represents roughly 60% of the shelter’s 54 dog capacity per its 2016 Shelter/Pound Annual Report. Thus, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed dogs while other kennels remained empty during the year.

Gloucester County Animal Shelter’s Absurd Reason for Killing Cats

Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed huge numbers of cats for alleged behavior problems. The shelter killed 985 cats or 37% of the cats it took in for being feral (27%) and for alleged behavior problems (10%). Frankly, any shelter classifying 27% of their cats as feral does not have a clue about cat behavior. In fact, a recent study documented 18% of impounded cats were initially classified as feral/aggressive, but all these cats became safe enough to adopt out after people gently touched the cats (using a stick for very aggressive cats) and spoke to them softly for 6 days. As a comparison, Austin Animal Center in Texas only killed 1 cat or 0% of all cats for temperament related reasons in 2016. Thus, Gloucester County Animal Shelter simply wrote huge numbers of cats off as feral or having behavioral problems and killed these animals.

Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed an unusually large percentage of animals for medical reasons. Overall, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed 536 cats or 20% of their cats for medical reasons and another 63 cats or 2% due to a veterinary order (presumably the animals were hopelessly suffering). As a comparison, Austin Animal Center only killed 3% of their cats for all medical reasons. In other words, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed cats for medical reasons at over seven times the rate as Austin Animal Center.

GCAS Cats Killed 2016

Austin Animal Center 2016 Cats Euthanized Reasons

To make matters worse, Gloucester County Animal Shelter quickly killed cats for alleged behavior problems and health issues. The shelter killed cats for supposedly being feral as well as cats with other behavior issues after 16 days and cats with health problems after 22 days. Simply put, Gloucester County Animal Shelter hardly even gave these cats a chance.

GCAS Killed Cats LOS

Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed cats it classified as “feral” and did little else. Cat ID# 239994, who was just 2 years old, was trapped and picked up by a Gloucester County Animal Shelter ACO on May 26, 2016. Other than making some basic notes about the sex of the animal, noting the cat was possibly pregnant, and stating the cat had no microchip, the shelter did nothing, but kill this cat eight days later. In fact, the records below indicate the cat received no veterinary care and there is no documentation of the shelter providing socialization.

GCAS Cat 23994 Intake and Disposition Record

GCAS 239994 Medical Record

Cat ID# 238919 was a 4 month old cat who was trapped and taken by an ACO to the Gloucester County Animal Shelter on February 8, 2016. Other than scanning the animal for a microchip, Gloucester County Animal Shelter did nothing for this kitten. After 8 days, the shelter killed this kitten for being “feral.”

GCAS 238919 Part 1

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Cat ID# 243787, who was just 2 years old, was trapped and brought by an ACO to the Gloucester County Animal Shelter on December 13, 2016. Gloucester County Animal Shelter vaccinated the animal on her second day at the shelter and scanned her for a microchip. After 8 days of apparently doing nothing else, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed this young cat for being “feral.”

GCAS 243787.jpg

GCAS 243787 pt 2

Gloucester County Animal Shelter also killed cats for absurd behavioral reasons. Molly was a spayed 3 year old cat who was surrendered to the Gloucester County Animal Shelter on May 16, 2016. According to the owner, Molly was an indoor cat, did not cause damage in the home, used a litter box, liked school age kids and adults, was playful, friendly, affectionate, shy and nice. Unfortunately, Molly fought with another cat in the household, but the owner acknowledged Molly was not used to other animals. Instead of adopting out this wonderful cat to a home without cats or to a family that would socialize her with their own cats, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed Molly 18 days later.

GCAS 239853

GCAS 239853 Pt 2

GCAS 239853 Pt 2 (2)

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Gloucester County Animal Shelter also killed cats for ridiculous “health” reasons. Slinkie was a one year old cat surrendered by her owner on December 12, 2016 due to the owner losing their home. According to her owner, Slinkie was sociable, used a litter box, did not cause damage, liked adults, school age children and other cats and was playful, friendly and affectionate. In addition, the owner spayed Slinkie at the People for Animals clinic earlier in the year. Despite this cat being a wonderful pet, Gloucester County killed Slinkie 8 days later for having easily treatable ringworm.

GCAS 243349

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Gloucester County Animal Shelter’s Poor Reasons for Killing Dogs

Gloucester County Animal Shelter used the reasons below to kill dogs. Most striking, was that the shelter killed 13% of all impounded dogs for behavior/aggression related reasons. As a comparison, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed a significantly larger percentage of dogs for aggression/behavior issues than Austin Animal Center (0.5% of all dogs killed for aggression related reasons in the last quarter of of fiscal year 2016). The shelter also killed 4% of all dogs for medical reasons compared to just 1% of dogs at Austin Animal Center in 2016. Thus, the data strongly suggests Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed too many dogs for aggression and medical related reasons.

GCAS Dogs Killed Reasons

Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed far too many pit bulls for aggression related issues. Astonishingly, the shelter killed 20% of all impounded pit bulls for “behavior” and “bite cases.” As a comparison, Austin Animal Center only killed 2% of all its pit bulls in 2016 for behavioral and similar reasons. However, Austin Animal Center likely killed a lower percentage of pit bulls in the final quarter of 2016 since the percentage of all dogs killed for behavior dropped in half. Therefore, Austin Animal Center may have killed only 1% of pit bull dogs for behavior related reasons during this time. In other words, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed pit bulls for aggression related reasons at 10-20 times the rate as Austin Animal Center.

Similarly, Gloucester County Animal Shelter also appeared to kill too many pit bull like dogs for medical related reasons. While Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed 6% of all pit bulls for medical related reasons, Austin Animal Center only euthanized 1% of its pit bulls for these reasons.

GCAS Pit Bulls Killed Reasons.jpg

Gloucester County Animal Shelter also appeared to kill too many small dogs for aggression related problems. Specifically, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed 3% of small dogs for these reasons while Austin Animal Center killed 0% of small dogs for these reasons. Frankly, shelters should never kill small dogs for aggression related problems given their inability to inflict serious harm on an adult person (i.e. such dogs can be placed in adult only homes).

GCAS Small Dogs Killed

Gloucester County Animal Shelter also killed an abnormally large percentage of other medium to large size dogs for aggression and medical related problems. The shelter killed 14% of other medium to large size breeds of dogs for “behavior” and “bite case” reasons. As a comparison, Austin Animal Center only killed 2% of its other medium to large size breeds for these reasons. Similarly, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed 4% of other medium to large size dogs for medical reasons while Austin Animal Center only euthanized 1% of these types of dogs.

GCAS Other Dogs Killed Reasons.jpg

Gloucester County Animal Shelter quickly killed dogs for behavior reasons. The shelter killed dogs for “behavior” after just 18 days on average. In other words, these dogs did not even get three weeks to decompress at the shelter.

GCAS Dogs Killed LOS

While this data was not materially different for pit bulls and other medium to large size breeds, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed small dogs even faster for behavior related reasons. Specifically, the shelter killed small dogs for “behavior” after just 11 days on average.

GCAS Small Dogs Killed LOS.jpg

Dog ID# 238996 was a 3 year old pit bull like dog who was picked up as a stray on March 20, 2016. On the dog’s “Impoundment Exam”, the dog was noted as being “extremely stressed” in her kennel, “skinny” and had “possible ear infections.” None of the records I reviewed indicated any effort to reduce stress as required by state law and the New Jersey Department of Health’s related guidance. Instead, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed her 11 days later for “behavior.”

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238996 pt 2 (3)

Dog ID# 241788 was a 2 year old Labrador retriever that was turned in by a person who found him on July 9, 2016. The dog’s Impoundment Exam stated he had a healing puncture in his ear and an abrasion over his eye. Remarkably, the shelter stated “he was trying to eat neighboring dog through cage” (i.e. barrier reactivity). As Dogs Playing for Life states, barrier reactivity is “not an accurate indicator of a dog’s social skills.” Volunteers at most animal shelters will tell you how different dog behavior is inside a cage at a stressful shelter and outside in real world situations. Adding to the normal stress this dog would feel after being thrown into a chaotic shelter environment, Dog ID# 241788 would have also had to deal injuries to his ear and the area above his eye. Despite barrier reactivity or kennel stress being easy to fix, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed this dog a mere 13 days after he arrived at the shelter for “behavior.”

241788 pt 1

241788 pt 2

Bentley (ID# 243866) was 2 year old Lhasa Aspo-poodle mix who was brought in for a rabies quarantine after the dog bit his owner on their thumb. However, the bite was so minor that the person was able to treat it without the help of a physician. Despite many people wanting to adopt small dogs like this, even those that bite/nip, Gloucester County Animal Shelter refused to evaluate the dog’s behavior due to the “bite case.” After just 20 days, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed this dog for being a “bite case.”

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Gizmo (ID# 241545) was an 8 year old pit bull like dog surrendered by his owner to the Gloucester County Animal Shelter on August 29, 2016. Apparently, the owner’s spouse left them and they had to move to a place that would not accept Gizmo. The dog’s Impoundment Exam stated he had “missing patches of fur in patches”, “dandruff” and a “possible skin infection.” According to the owner, Gizmo, who was neutered, was an inside dog, and liked all kinds of people, including seniors, kids and babies. The owner noted Gizmo was friendly, playful and tolerant. Additionally, he tolerated bathing, nail clippings and ear cleaning. While the owner did say Gizmo was destructive, the dog was left alone in a basement for 8-10 hours a day where such behaviors could understandably develop. Despite Gizmo being great with people and not having any serious medical issues, Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed him after just 8 days for “health” reasons.

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GCAS 241545 Dog Profile

Gloucester County Animal Shelter Uses Improper Method to Kill Thousands of Cats

Under N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.11, animal shelters can only use intraperitoneal and intracardiac (i.e. heart stick) injections to kill/euthanize animals in specific situations. Specifically, when an animal is very small or a comatose animal with a depressed vascular function. For heart sticking, an animal must also be heavily sedated or in a comatose state.

The primary recommended method is an intravenous injection of a barbiturate; however, an intraperitoneal or intracardiac injection may be made where intravenous injection is impractical, as in the very small animal, or in the comatose animal with depressed vascular function. Intracardiac injection is acceptable only when performed on heavily sedated, anesthetized or comatose animals.

Intraperitoneal and intracardiac methods of euthanasia are restricted for good reason. Under the intraperitoneal method, animals are injected in the abdominal cavity and can take up to 30 minutes to die. Heart sticking, as the name implies, involves stabbing an animal in the heart with Fatal Plus poison and is obviously barbaric. Thus, animal shelters should limit these methods or not use them altogether for both legal and humane reasons.

The New Jersey Department of Health’s October 21, 2015 inspection report clearly stated Gloucester County Animal Shelter was violating state law by using intraperitoneal injections as the “primary method” of euthanizing “all cats and kittens.”

1.11 (c) The acceptable methods of euthanasia include the following: 1. The primary recommended method is an intravenous injection of a barbiturate; however, an intraperitoneal or intracardiac injection may be made where intravenous injection is impractical, as in the very small animal, or in the comatose animal with depressed vascular function.

Cats and kittens were not euthanized by intravenous injection as required. Documents indicated and the inspector was told at the time of this inspection that the primary method of euthanasia for cats at the facility was an intraperitoneal injection of sodium pentobarbital. All cats and kittens were euthanized by this method, including healthy adult cats and larger kittens over 4 weeks of age rather than cats that were comatose and had depressed vascular function or very small neonate kittens where intravenous injection may be impractical. Intraperitoneal and intracardiac injections are not to be used as the primary method of euthanasia for animals at the facility and these methods of euthanasia are only acceptable with documented justification.

Gloucester County Animal Shelter killed almost every cat using intraperitoneal injections in 2016 and the first 11 or so months of 2017. You can view the 2016 and 2017 euthanasia logs showing this here and here. The shelter used intraperitoneal injections to kill not just small kittens, who might be difficult to euthanize using intravenous injections, but older kittens and adults cats as well. In 2016, the shelter failed to even justify using intraperitoneal injection for almost every cat. While Gloucester County Animal Shelter did explain why it used intraperitoneal injections in 2017, it often used inadequate reasons such as “Staffing” and “Other Medical.” In addition, I noticed a number of cats were euthanized using both intraperitoneal and heart stick injections without any confirmation the animal was in comatose state. Thus, Gloucester County Animal Shelter continued to violate state law on a grand scale even after being called out on it in a 2015 inspection report.

Frankly, the New Jersey Department of Health should pursue the maximum penalty for each animal Gloucester County Animal Shelter improperly killed. While the fines under existing law of $5-$50 per offense are way too small, these fines could add up to a significant amount. For example, if Gloucester County Animal Shelter improperly euthanized 3,000 animals in 2016 and 2017 and the New Jersey Department of Health or the Gloucester County Health Department pursued the maximum fine of $50, Gloucester County Animal Shelter could face a $150,000 penalty.

Additionally, the New Jersey Department of Health should reinspect the shelter every month and assess new fines for each shelter law violation not corrected. Gloucester County officials must face a steep monetary penalty for allowing these blatant law-breaking activities to go on.

Gloucester County Must Clean House at its Animal Shelter

Gloucester County Animal Shelter must fire Shelter Director, Bill Lombardi. Personally, I thought the county should have terminated Mr. Lombardi and brought animal cruelty charges against him after the horrific 2015 New Jersey Department of Health inspection. For Gloucester County to pay this man around $90,000 to run a high kill shelter and to regularly kill cats using a method the 2015 New Jersey Department of Health inspection report indicated was inappropriate is unforgivable. Simply put, Gloucester County must part ways with Bill Lombardi.

Gloucester County Animal Shelter is failing its residents. Last year, Gloucester County Animal Shelter only took in 13 dogs and cats per 1,000 people and 36% of nonreclaimed dogs and 72% of nonreclaimed cats lost their lives. As a comparsion, the corresponding figures at Kansas City’s animal control shelter were 8% for dogs and around 10% for cats despite that facility taking in 20 dogs and cats per 1,000 people and approximately three times as many dogs and cats in total.

Gloucester County Animal Shelter should bring in a no kill consultant to revamp the shelter’s policies and evaluate all its personnel. Clearly, Gloucester County Animal Shelter is doing almost everything wrong and requires wholesale change. If Gloucester County can bring in a top notch no kill consultant, such as No Kill Learning, the county can turn its shelter around and ultimately save money by doing things right the first time. Furthermore, creating a no kill community can benefit all county residents as a 2017 University of Denver study showed the Austin, Texas no kill initiative resulted in a $157 million net economic benefit to the region.

Gloucester County should pressure its municipalities to enact TNR. While the county passed a resolution last summer supporting municipalities that allow TNR, the county shelter should refuse to impound feral cats from those communities that continue to ban TNR. If Gloucester County Animal Shelter were to do this, you would quickly see the municipalities passing TNR ordinances. As a result, taxpayers would save money and the shelter would stop killing many cats.

Gloucester County residents must call and write key elected officials and demand they turn the county shelter into a no kill facility. Currently, Gloucester County taxpayers give the shelter $1.9 million a year or $505 per dog and cat. This level of funding is equal to or greater than many no kill animal control shelters. Gloucester County residents should contact Freeholder Director, Robert Damminger, at (856) 853-3395 and rdamminger@co.gloucester.nj.us as well as Freeholder, Daniel Christy, at (856) 853-3383 and dchristy@co.gloucester.nj.us, and demand the following:

  • Fire Shelter Director Bill Lombardi
  • Hire a No Kill Consultant to help turn the shelter into a no kill facility
  • Refuse to impound feral cats from municipalities that ban TNR
  • Enact the Companion Animal Protection Act to ensure the shelter makes a minimal effort to save lives and treat animals humanely

Gloucester County’s elected officials have the opportunity to give this horror story a happy conclusion. Let’s make sure they do so.

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Associated Humane Societies-Newark’s Poor Treatment of Plainfield’s Homeless Animals

Associated Humane Societies-Newark has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. The shelter received three terrible inspection reports over the last few months. In addition, NJ.com, PIX 11 News and News 12’s Kane in Your Corner all published/aired news stories exposing this “house of horrors.” As a result of these inspections and news reports, the NJ SPCA charged AHS Executive Director, Roseann Trezza, with eight criminal and eight civil counts of animal cruelty. This story made both national and international news and was published in well-known news outlets, such as the New York Times. Subsequently, the Star Ledger issued a scathing editorial demanding the state remove Roseann Trezza and put the Newark shelter into receivership (i.e. run by other competent people on a temporary basis until they find a permanent solution). Despite all this, AHS defended Roseann Trezza and appears unwilling to institute substantive change.

AHS-Newark has consistently killed large percentages of the animals it takes in per annual statistics the organization reported to the New Jersey Department of Health. In 2014, AHS-Newark killed 29% of its dogs and 42% of its cats. AHS-Newark killed 25% of its dogs and 43% of its cats in 2015. In 2016, AHS-Newark killed 25% of its dogs and 44% of its cats. Thus, AHS-Newark’s annual statistics consistently revealed the facility was high kill.

AHS-Newark’s statistics were far worse according to underlying records I obtained. Based on individual animal records for Newark dogs and cats primarily coming to the facility from animal control in 2014, 70% of dogs, 81% of pit bull like dogs and 93% of cats with known outcomes lost their lives in this data set. Similarly, 60% of dogs, 74% of pit bull like dogs and 83% of cats with known outcomes from the City of Irvington lost their lives at AHS-Newark during the first nine or so months of 2015 based on individual animal records provided to me. Thus, AHS-Newark’s underlying records revealed a much higher percentage of animals losing their lives from these two cities.

Subsequently, AHS-Newark refused to provide these records from other contracting municipalities. The shelter stated they changed their software system. Additionally, the organization claimed it did not have to submit records, even if requested by the contracting municipality, under OPRA. In fact, AHS-Newark even added similar language to agreements with contracting municipalities I saw.

Luckily, another animal advocate was able to obtain AHS-Newark’s intake and disposition records for stray animals from the City of Plainfield. These records related to all of 2016 and the first nine or so months of 2017. Unfortunately, AHS-Newark only provided a report that provided little information on each animal and no disposition dates. Therefore, AHS-Newark provided less transparent records than it previously gave to me.

Plainfield has a local group that aggressively tries to save the city’s animals. Plainfield Residents’ Association for Animal Rescue (“PRAAR”) helps local residents find alternatives to surrendering owned and stray animals to AHS-Newark (i.e. reducing animal intake at the shelter) and reclaim stray animals impounded by AHS-Newark. As a result of these efforts, AHS-Newark should be able to achieve high live release rates for Plainfield’s homeless animals.

What kind of job did AHS-Newark do in handling Plainfield’s homeless animals? Are Planfield’s elected officials making good use of the city’s taxpayer dollars by contracting with AHS-Newark?

Many Plainfield Dogs Lose Their Lives at AHS-Newark

AHS-Newark killed a large percentage of the stray dogs it took in from Plainfield in 2016. Overall, AHS-Newark’s kill rate for Plainfield’s stray dogs in 2016 was around the same as AHS-Newark’s total dog statistics in its “Shelter/Pound Annual Report.” However, AHS-Newark’s 2016 “Shelter/Pound Annual Report” had errors I previously described and is not particularly reliable. While AHS-Newark’s dog kill rate was lower than the 2014 Newark and 2015 Irvington kill rates I calculated, AHS-Newark still killed 24% of dogs or roughly 1 out of 4 dogs. Even worse, AHS-Newark killed 37% of pit bull like dogs or more than 1 out of 3 pit bull like dogs from Plainfield.

Since many dogs reclaimed by owners have licenses and microchips, it is easy for AHS-Newark to quickly send these animals back home to their families. Additionally, PRAAR helps owners reclaim their dogs from the shelter. As a result of these efforts and lower poverty rates in Plainfield, AHS-Newark’s dog reclaim rate was around two to three times higher than the reclaim rates I computed for 2014 Newark dogs and 2015 Irvington dogs.

AHS-Newark did a poor job in finding new homes for Plainfield’s stray dogs. The shelter killed 34% of all non-reclaimed dogs, 52% of non-reclaimed pit bulls, 11% of non-reclaimed small dogs and 23% of other non-reclaimed dogs. In other words, AHS-Newark killed approximately 1 out of 3 non-reclaimed dogs, 1 out of 2 non-reclaimed pit bulls and 1 out of 4 non-reclaimed other medium to large size dogs.

To make matters worse, AHS-Newark’s dog and non-reclaimed dog kill rates may have been higher. To the extent transferred dogs went to other AHS facilities, which are kill shelters, and those facilities killed these animals, the kill rates would increase.

AHS-Newark adopted out hardly any dogs. The shelter only adopted out 16 dogs in total, 4 pit bull like dogs, 8 small dogs and 4 dogs from other breeds. In fact, AHS-Newark only adopted out 17% of all these dogs, 8% of pit bull like dogs, 27% of small dogs and 24% of dogs from other breeds.

2016 AHS-Newark Plainfield Dog Statistics

The shelter’s statistics for the first nine or so months of 2017 were actually worse in some respects. Overall, 21% of all dogs, 41% of pit bull like dogs, 4% of small dogs and 7% of dogs from other breeds lost their lives. However, the non-reclaimed dog death rates were higher for all dogs and pit bull like dogs during the first nine or so months of 2017. Specifically, 38% of all non-reclaimed dogs and 62% of non-reclaimed pit bull like dogs lost their lives at this so-called shelter. In other words, more than 1 out of 3 non-reclaimed dogs and nearly 2 out of 3 non-reclaimed pit bulls lost their lives at AHS-Newark.

Once again, AHS-Newark adopted out hardly any dogs. Most notably, AHS-Newark only adopted out 16% of all dogs and just 10% of pit bull like dogs during the first nine or so months of 2017.

2017 AHS-Newark Plainfield Dog Statistics.jpg

Plainfield Cats Die in Droves at AHS-Newark

Large percentages of stray cats and kittens from Plainfield lost their lives at AHS-Newark in 2016. AHS-Newark killed 24% of all cats, 39% of adult cats and 17% of kittens. However, many additional kittens died at the shelter. Once we factor in the kittens dying at AHS-Newark, the death rates for all cats and kittens were 42% and 44% in 2016. If we back out the 4 cats that were “released”, which I assume were either reclaimed by their owner or were trapped, neutered and released, the non-released cat death rate was 45% for all cats, 50% for adult cats and 44% for kittens. In other words, nearly 1 out of 2 stray cats and kittens from Plainfield requiring a new home lost their lives at AHS-Newark in 2016.

Shockingly, AHS-Newark hardly adopted out any cats. The shelter adopted out just 6 of 61 or 10% of all cats, 2 of 18 or 11% of adult cats and 4 of 43 or 9% of kittens. While the shelter sent 24 cats and kittens to rescues and/or other shelters, its unclear whether these were all no kill organizations. If AHS-Newark transferred some of these cats to AHS-Tinton Falls or AHS-Popcorn Park, its possible the kill rates could be higher since AHS-Tinton Falls killed 51% and AHS-Popcorn Park killed 26% of cats with known outcomes in 2016.

2016 AHS-Newark Plainfield Cat Statistics

Plainfield’s stray cats continued to lose their lives at AHS-Newark during the first nine or so months of 2017. Overall 30% of all cats, 28% of adult cats and 32% of kittens lost their lives at AHS-Newark. Amazingly, AHS-Newark adopted out just 2 out of 55 cats or just 4% of these animals. The shelter did not adopt out a single one of the stray 33 kittens it took in from Plainfield. Frankly, a single person could adopt out many more cats than AHS-Newark did.

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AHS-Newark’s atrocious performance handling cats is clear when we break out the statistics by age. As you can see in the tables below, AHS-Newark reported only taking 1 neonatal kitten (i.e. less than 6 weeks old) in during 2016 and the first nine or so months of 2017. Since these are often the most vulnerable animals (highly susceptible to disease, those without mothers require around the clock bottle feeding), this makes AHS-Newark’s high death rates more disturbing.

AHS-Newark performed far worse than Austin Animal Center. In 2016 and 2017, AHS-Newark had higher death rates for all age groups. However, AHS-Newark’s death rates for older kittens (6 weeks to just under 1 year) were 15-25 times higher than Austin Animal Center’s despite the Texas shelter taking in nearly 1,800 of these animals. Even though older kittens are the most highly adoptable age group, AHS-Newark failed to adopt out a single stray older kitten taken in from Plainfield in 2016 and the first nine or so months of 2017. Is it any wonder why 75% and 45% of older kittens from Plainfield lost their lives during 2016 and the first nine months of 2017?

2016 AHS-Newark Cats Plainfield By Age

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Austin Animal Center 2016 Cat Statistics

Plainfield Taxpayers Ripped Off

Plainfield pays AHS-Newark exorbitant amounts for the “service” it receives. According to the city’s prior contract with AHS-Newark, which Plainfield is continuing to use on a month to month basis, it pays AHS-Newark $121,890 a year. This works out to $781 per each of the 156 stray dogs and cats the shelter impounded from Plainfield in 2016. In fact, Plainfield taxpayers paid AHS-Newark $5,540 per adoption based on the $121,890 contract fee and the paltry 22 dog and cat adoptions the shelter did in 2016. If these fees were not high enough, Plainfield taxpayers must pay AHS-Newark $18 per day to board an animal involved in a court case proceeding. Since such cases can take a long time to resolve, this potentially puts Plainfield taxpayers on the hook to pay AHS-Newark much more. Plainfield taxpayers must also pay AHS-Newark additional costs, which could be substantial, if the shelter takes in feral cats from abandoned colonies. Thus, Plainfield taxpayers are paying exorbitant fees to AHS-Newark for terrible service.

AHS-Newark also charges Painfield residents additional high fees. Plainfield residents must pay AHS-Newark $95 to reclaim a lost animal during normal operating hours on weekdays. However, the shelter charges $125 if the person reclaims the animal after 5 pm on weekdays and on weekends. Furthermore, AHS-Newark makes Plainfield residents pay an additional $4.24 per day during the first 7 days and $12.84 per day after day 7 to reclaim their animal. Also, residents must pay AHS-Newark $95 per hour on weekdays until 5 pm and $125 per hour on weekdays after 5 pm and weekends to remove wildlife from inside their homes unless the animal poses a threat to the resident’s well-being. In addition, AHS-Newark charges feral cat colony caretakers or the City of Plainfield an additional $65 per animal fee to spay/neuter, vaccinate, ear tip and microchip these cats. Thus, Plainfield taxpayers must pay additional exorbitant fees to use AHS-Newark’s services.

AHS-Newark also rips off Plainfield taxpayers in other ways. Under the arrangement, AHS-Newark, and not the town, decides if an injured or sick animal gets to receive emergency veterinary treatment outside AHS-Newark’s normal operating hours (i.e. when no AHS-Newark veterinarian is present). Furthermore, AHS-Newark asserts it “owns” an animal after day 7 despite the New Jersey Commission of Investigation questioning this notion. Practically speaking, Plainfield residents have no say in what happens to stray animals after day 7 despite paying AHS-Newark nearly $800 per dog and cat plus additional fees. Also, the contract only requires AHS-Newark to respond to calls within one hour during normal business hours. During weeknights and weekends, AHS-Newark has no time limit to respond to calls. If a dog or cat is hit by a car and needs quick veterinary treatment, the animal is out of luck. To make matters worse, Plainfield residents cannot even call AHS-Newark directly when animals need assistance. Instead, they must first call the police or health department who would subsequently call AHS-Newark. Frankly, this is absurd when seconds could make the difference between life and death for an injured animal.

Plainfield Must Aggressively Seek a New Animal Control and Sheltering Provider

While Plainfield recently issued a Request for Proposal for animal control and sheltering services, this is not strong enough action. First, the RFP provides no requirements for a third party to save lives. Given animal control shelters in hundreds of communities across the nation save over 90% of their animals, Plainfield should require any provider to save at least 90% of Plainfield’s animals. Second, the RFP calls for impounding feral cats which shelters should not do except if such animals are sick, injured, in serious danger or if the animals will be altered, vaccinated and released to where they were found. Third, the City of Plainfield must be proactive and reach out to alternative providers and persuade them to bid on the contract. Simply put, AHS-Newark is not an acceptable alternative and the city must act as if it has no provider.

Local Shelters Must Bid on Plainfield Contract

Plainfield Area Humane Society must aggressively pursue the Plainfield animal control and sheltering contract. Based on 2016 analyses I did on the shelter’s cats and dogs, Plainfield Area Humane Society could have taken in 477 more dogs and 1,212 more cats in 2016. Clearly, this vastly exceeds the 95 stray dogs and 61 stray cats AHS-Newark impounded from Plainfield last year. Frankly, Plainfield Area Humane Society should be appalled at how AHS-Newark is treating its hometown animals. Thus, Plainfield Area Humane Society should jump at the opportunity to save the homeless animals in its own community.

St. Hubert’s should also aggressively bid on the Plainfield contract. St. Hubert’s-North Branch is less than 20 miles away and could easily take on Plainfield’s contract. The organization routinely transfers in dogs from the south and rescues many cats from other New Jersey animal shelters. According to St. Hubert’s Strategic Directories and Priorities for 2015-2018, the organization seeks to continue being a “model shelter” and wants to “seek contracts with targeted municipalities.” Clearly, Plainfield needs a new sheltering provider and St. Hubert’s should try to obtain the contract.

Edison Animal Shelter could also bid on the Plainfield contract. Based on 2016 analyses I did on the shelter’s cats and dogs, Edison Animal Shelter could take in 100 more dogs and 374 more cats.

Additionally, other shelters could pledge to rescue animals from facilities contracting with Plainfield. For example, Woodbridge Animal Shelter could take in 84 more dogs (nearly as many dogs AHS-Newark impounded from Plainfield in 2016) and 306 more cats (many more cats than AHS-Newark impounded from Plainfield in 2016) based on my 2016 analyses I did on the shelter’s cats and dogs.

While Plainfield’s feral cat policy would be problematic for many, if not all, of these organizations, these shelters could pressure the city to change its stance. In other words, if Plainfield wants to contract with an organization to provide animal control and/or sheltering services, the city must allow TNR.

People Must Demand Plainfield Replace AHS-Newark Unless the Entire AHS Leadership Resigns

Plainfield’s elected officials will continue to shortchange the city’s animals unless residents and other people pressure these politicians to change. In other words, people must write to the City Council and Mayor and demand they dump AHS-Newark unless AHS removes Executive Director, Roseann Trezza, all other long-time executives and the entire AHS Board of Director.

To make this task easier, people can send the following letter using the emails below:

adrian.mapp@plainfieldnj.gov

rebecca.williams@plainfieldnj.gov

Diane.Toliver@plainfieldnj.gov

cory.storch@plainfieldnj.gov

bridget.rivers@plainfieldnj.gov

barry.goode@plainfieldnj.gov

Joylette.mills@plainfieldnj.gov

Charles.Mcrae@plainfieldnj.gov

Dear Honorable Mayor Rapp, Council President Williams, Councilwoman Toliver, Councilman Storch, Councilwoman Rivers, Councilman Goode, Councilwoman Mills-Ransome and Councilman McRae,

Recently, Rahway announced they will terminate their contract with Associated Humane Societies-Newark after the shelter’s dismal performance in three New Jersey Department of Health inspections and the NJ SPCA charging Associated Humane Societies Executive Director, Roseann Trezza, with eight counts of criminal and civil animal cruelty charges.

So, the questions that remain are: What is Plainfield waiting for? What is Plainfield doing to address the AHS-Newark crisis?

Unless Roseann Trezza, other long-time executives and the entire Board of Directors of AHS immediately resign, there is absolutely no plausible excuse for Plainfield to continue to use AHS-Newark. Find us another animal control and sheltering provider, even if on a temporary basis.

We’ve had enough unnecessary killing.

Here is the latest from the editorial board of the Star Ledger:

http://www.nj.com/…/newark_animal_shelter_must_clean…

Below is the PIX 11 News expose on AHS-Newark:

http://pix11.com/…/executive-director-of-newark-animal…/

News 12’s Kane in Your Corner’s report on AHS-Newark is linked below:

http://newjersey.news12.com/story/36855182/kiyc-animal-cruelty-charges-filed-against-ahs-director

Roseann Trezza, all long-time AHS executives and the entire AHS board must go.

We anticipate that a response from our elected representatives will be forthcoming in the near future.

Thank you

Additionally, everyone should attend the next Plainfield City Council meeting:

Date: December 11, 2017

Time: 8:00 pm

Location: 325 Watchung Avenue, Plainfield, NJ 07060

During that meeting people should demand the following:

  1. Plainfield terminate its contract with AHS-Newark unless Roseann Trezza, other long-time executives and the entire Board of Directors of AHS immediately resign
  2. Aggressively pursue another organization that will seek to achieve a greater than 90% live release rate
  3. Plainfield enact a TNR ordinance to save lives and reduce costs to taxpayers

Plainfield’s use of the high kill and lawless AHS-Newark shelter is no longer tolerable. The city must do the right thing and contract with an organization that will serve both the animals and people of Plainfield well.