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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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City of Newark Tries to Sweep Associated Humane Societies-Newark’s Problems Under the Rug

Last August, the New Jersey Department of Health and the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness inspected Associated Humane Societies-Newark. The inspection report, which the state health department appeared to write, documented AHS-Newark violating state law on a massive scale. Some of the inspection report’s key findings were as follows:

  • Violations were so numerous that the shelter could not receive a license to operate
  • Illegal killing of animals during seven day protection period
  • Improper euthanasia records potentially indicating such procedures were inhumane
  • Dead animals left like trash outside near enclosures used by live dogs
  • Live skunk left in a carrier covered by a blanket in the hot sun next to dead animals
  • Shelter did not have a proper disease control program
  • Sick animals not properly isolated from healthy ones
  • Some animals did not receive veterinary care
  • Feral cats left in a filthy room in inhumane conditions
  • Animals housed in dangerous conditions that could injure them
  • Dogs housed in terrible conditions in the shelter’s infamous basement

Subsequent to the Augest 22, 2017 inspection, the two heath departments inspected AHS-Newark on September 26, 2017 and found numerous problems still existed.

Since the Sepetember 26, 2017 inspection, what kind of job has the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness done to make sure AHS-Newark complies with state law? What does this agency’s past history tell us about its ability to enforce the state’s shelter laws? Can we trust the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness to do the right thing?

Newark Department of Health’s History of Inadequate Inspections

Under N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.2, local health authorities must inspect animal shelters each year to ensure these facilities comply with state laws. The City of Newark’s Department of Health and Community Wellness is the local agency responsible for inspecting AHS-Newark. The New Jersey Department of Health also has the right to inspect animal shelters.

Newark’s Department of Health and Community Wellness performed inadequate inspections for many years. On December 5, 2008, the City of Newark inspected AHS-Newark and issued a “Satisfactory” rating. While the inspection report noted some violations, the virtually illegible comments in the report were very limited. In July 2009, the New Jersey Department of Health inspected AHS-Newark and found shocking violations. While I could write a series of blogs on this inspection, the following photos show the horrific conditions at the shelter:

6 Puppy with wounded ears

13 Dogs in feces

24 Closeup of Mange Dog

The City of Newark also failed to properly inspect AHS-Newark in 2011. On January 18, 2011, the City of Newark stated AHS-Newark fixed all the violations from a November 2010 inspection and issued a satisfactory rating. However, a New Jersey Department of Health inspection less than two months later found terrible problems. The state 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.

The following photos were taken during the 2011 inspection:

AHS 2011 Insepction Sick Rottie

AHS 2011 Inspection Cakes on Food 2

AHS 2011 Inspection Dog Near Feces in Drain

AHS 2011 Inspection Dog Under Roof Construction

The City of Newark’s inspection reports from 2011 through 2016 do not inspire confidence. On January 7, 2012, the City of Newark inspected AHS-Newark and did not use a proper shelter inspection form. In fact, the City of Newark appeared to use a restaurant inspection form and barely wrote anything in the report. The City of Newark inspected AHS-Newark on March 6, 2013 and again barely wrote anything in its report with a “Satisfactory” rating. Similarly, the City of Newark inspected AHS-Newark on April 9, 2014 and hardly wrote anything in its report. Specifically, the comments stated the shelter used an exterminator, “checked all facilities” and “conditions are satisfactory.” In 2015, the City of Newark issued a single page report with “Satisfactory” checked off. After I began posting AHS-Newark records in 2015 and someone else obtained a number of these inspection reports during that year, the City of Newark issued a marginally better report in 2016. The City of Newark wrote several very short bullet points about the inspection and then checked off a number of items on a checklist. Given AHS-Newark is New Jersey’s largest animal shelter and the history of issues at this facility, I’d expect the City of Newark’s inspector to provide detailed comments on the shelter’s compliance with each provision of applicable state law.

Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness Passes AHS-Newark with Flying Colors One Month Before Horrific State Health Department Inspection

The Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness gave AHS-Newark a “Satisfactory” rating in a July 19, 2017 inspection report. Remarkably, 34 days later, the New Jersey Department of Health conducted a six hour inspection and found AHS-Newark violating so many provisions of state law that the facility could not receive a license. How on earth can two inspection agencies come up with such different results? The Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness is either incompetent or corrupt or both.

Newark Health Dept. 7.19.17 AHS-Newark Inspection Part 2.jpg

Emails Reveal City of Newark’s Intentions

The City’s of Newark’s Manager of Environmental Health, which is the department that conducts inspections, initially expressed deep concerns about AHS-Newark. On September 6, 2017, Michael Wlison, City of Newark Manager of Environmental Health, sent an email to Solomon Jones, City of Newark Animal Control Director, stating the August 22, 2017 inspection found “deplorable conditions” at AHS-Newark and AHS-Newark violated their agreement with the city.

Newark Health Department Email 9.6.17 - AHS-Newark Deplorable

Mr. Wilson sent an email uncovering the City of Newark’s intentions 13 days later to the Newark Health Officer. In the email, Michael Wilson mentions he talked with Choi. Based on emails I received, this apparently is Choi Chuen, the City of Newark’s Deputy Chief of Staff. According to Michael Wilson, Choi Chuen stated a “feasibility study” found it was cheaper for the City of Newark to contract with AHS-Newark than to build and operate their own shelter. Additionally, Michael Wilson mentioned unnamed “political issues” in what seemed as a justification to keep contracting with AHS-Newark.

Ironically, Michael Wilson correctly pointed out the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness has a conflict of interest in that it inspects a shelter the City of Newark contracts with. In other words, the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness is under pressure to give AHS-Newark a pass to reduce costs and avoid “political issues.”

Finally, Michael Wilson suggests the Newark Health Officer and Newark Deputy Chief of Staff meet to discuss AHS-Newark prior to meeting with the NJ SPCA (i.e. “Frank Rizzo”) and the New Jersey Department of Health (i.e. “the State”). Additional emails revealed these individuals tried to arrange this internal Newark government meeting.

Newark Email on Feasability of Building a New Shelter

Newark Health Department Conducts Inspection That Miraculously Finds AHS-Newark Significantly Improving

The Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness inspected AHS-Newark on October 4, 2017 without the New Jersey Department of Health and claimed AHS-Newark fixed many of the problems, but still did not give AHS-Newark a license. In addition, the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness did not issue any summonses to AHS-Newark. However, the New Jersey Department of Health’s joint September 26, 2017 inspection report found AHS-Newark having far more problems. Did AHS-Newark suddenly improve after these nine days? One look at the new AHS-Newark protocols, many of which are a few single sentence set of bullet points, shows this remediation effort is a joke.

Frankly, the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellnesses’ history of failing to properly inspect AHS-Newark, its admitted conflict of interest, and the City of Newark’s financial and political incentives makes me seriously doubt the validity of this inspection. Simply put, the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness has no credibility and people should not attribute any value to its inspection reports.

Given the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness is intent on giving AHS-Newark a free pass to do what it pleases again, the New Jersey Department of Health must take over this inspection and regulatory process. As I previously stated, the New Jersey Department of Health must start legal proceedings to shut AHS-Newark down unless Roseann Trezza, all other AHS executives and the entire AHS Board of Directors resign. Additionally, the City of Newark and all the other contracting municipalities must find a new organization to house their animals or run such a facility themselves. At best, AHS-Newark will make inadequate changes that will go away after the state health department stops following up. Simply put, AHS-Newark cannot operate properly with its current leadership.

Animal Advocates Must Continue to Demand for Change

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

  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 Continues to Violate State Law Per New State and City Inspection Report

Last month, I wrote a blog about an August 22, 2017 joint New Jersey Department of Health and Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness inspection report on Associated Humane Societies-Newark. Subsequently, I wrote another blog about AHS-Newark claiming how it fixed many problems.

On September 26, 2017, the New Jersey Department of Health and Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness inspected AHS-Newark again and issued another report. You can read this limited scope follow-up inspection report here and the related photos here. Did AHS-Newark fix all of its problems? Should the shelter be able to operate?

Serious Violations Continue to Exist

While the inspection reported noted AHS-Newark corrected several violations, many of these were relatively simple fixes. However, the shelter continued to break state law to such an extent that the authorities would not give AHS-Newark a license to operate:

9/26/17: Facility remains in noncompliance and a license for the current year cannot be issued.

Feral Cats Treated Inhumanely

The August 22, 2017 inspection report found AHS-Newark did not provide stress relief to feral cats housed in a room. Over one month later, AHS-Newark continued to not provide any stress relief to these cats according to the inspectors. The new inspection report noted the following:

  1. AHS-Newark did not provide enough litter receptacles
  2. AHS-Newark housed too many cats in the room to fit such litter receptacles
  3. AHS-Newark only had two litter receptacles and they were effectively unusable by most of the cats. One litter receptacle had a cat sleeping in it and the other litter receptacle tipped over.
  4. AHS-Newark did not provide the cats access to things to climb, resting benches or hiding boxes resulting in the cats bunching up against each other on the floor
  5. AHS-Newark housed these animals in severely overcrowded conditions that are “a detriment to the health, safety and welfare of the cats”
  6. AHS-Newark must immediately provide alternative housing areas to the cats in this enclosure

9/26/17: Not corrected. Cats housed in the feral cat enclosure were severely overcrowded and not provided with any type of stress relief. There were at least twenty cats in this small enclosure. These cats were said to be aggressive; animals exhibiting signs of aggression are required to be housed individually in accordance with N.J.A.C. 1.6. There was an insufficient number of litter receptacles for the number of cats housed in these enclosures; there was insufficient floor space to hold litter receptacles due to the number of cats housed in the enclosure, and of the two litter receptacles provided in this enclosure, one contained a cat that was sleeping and the other had been tipped over. The cats housed in this enclosure were not provided with access to vertical space, resting benches, or hiding boxes and were forced to stay on the floor of the enclosure bunched up one against the other. This severity of overcrowding is a detriment to the health, safety and welfare of the cats housed in this enclosure. The facility management will be required to provide alternative housing areas for the cats in this enclosure. This requires immediate correction.

To make matters worse, AHS-Newark continued to leave this enclosure’s glass or plexiglass window so filthy that people could not see inside.

9/26/17: Partially corrected. The cardboard and newspapers had been removed but the glass or plexiglass was not cleaned sufficiently to easily view the cats in these enclosures.

In fact, AHS-Newark did not clean this plexiglass at all and it contained “an accumulation of feces, dirt, hair and other debris.”

The plexiglass in the feral cat enclosure was not being cleaned and contained an accumulation of feces, dirt, hair and other debris.

Additionally, AHS-Newark had exposed nails in the feral cat room that could injure the animals. Also, the shelter still had not replaced broken dog beds that exposed dogs to potential injuries.

9/26/17: Not corrected. New raised beds were said to have been purchased and broken beds will be replaced. The feral cat enclosure contained two wooden and fiberboard cat furniture pieces. One of these pieces was broken and a board on the front panel had become loose and small nails were exposed. Please see 1.8 and 1.9 for additional continued deficiencies in the feral cat enclosures.

While AHS-Newark removed carpeted cat trees that “contained an accumulation of hair and dried feces or vomit”, the feral cat room continued to have its window ledges, resting benches and walls in disrepair. According to the August 22, 2017 inspection report, such conditions prevented employees from properly cleaning and disinfecting these areas.

9/26/17: Partially corrected, carpeted items removed; old caulk and broken edging needs to be removed and replaced at window ledges, resting benches and walls.

Animals Likely to Get Sick

While the inspectors noted AHS-Newark actually cleaned some areas of the facility, they still found filth in many places. Also, AHS-Newark apparently threw junk, including animal cages, on its roof and it blew off into a neighboring yard. Imagine if someone was hit by one of these falling cages?

9/26/17: Partially corrected, cleaning and disinfecting plan currently under review by the NJDOH. Many areas throughout the facility had been cleaned, but the corners and areas of the floors near the walls, and shelves and other areas, around pipes, and stairs contained dirt, hair and debris that had not been thoroughly cleaned. There were several animal cages and cage parts, and numerous HVAC filters and other debris that were found in the neighboring yard area. This debris was said to have blown off the roof. No items shall be stored on the roof of the facility.

The shelter’s cleaning procedures were inadequate yet again. AHS-Newark said it used Accel disinfectant, but had it in a container labeled with “DAWN” detergent. Additionally, the shelter threw a feces filled rabbit cage and another crate tray on the building’s roof. The inspector noted the feces spilled onto the roof. Since AHS-Newark claimed debris blew off their roof in the past, people and animals outside potentially could have crap literally rain down on them.

9/26/17: Partially corrected, cleaning and disinfecting plan currently under review by the NJDOH. The plexiglass in the feral cat enclosure was not being cleaned and contained an accumulation of feces, dirt, hair and other debris. A bucket that had the word DAWN written on the side in black permanent marker was said to contain Accel disinfectant and the adjacent bucket contained the detergent. A dirty rabbit cage (a black wire crate with a damaged removable tray) and another crate tray that contained an accumulation of feces, hay and debris were found on the roof of the facility. Some of these feces had spilled out onto the roof. The roof shall not be used to clean or store any items used at the facility.

AHS-Newark apparently did a poor job in fixing its animal enclosures. According to the inspection report, the shelter patched some holes and cracks. However, the inspectors stated AHS-Newark needed to remove and replace the concrete flooring due to it falling into such disrepair. Therefore, the shelter could not properly clean and disinfect these parts of the animal enclosures.

Several holes and cracks had been patched, but these concrete patches were not smoothed and leveled with an appropriate trowel and were left to harden with numerous folds and indentations that are unable to be cleaned and disinfected. The concrete flooring was being patched in various areas, but the flooring that is in severe disrepair will need to be removed and replaced. The laminated fiberboard cat cages in the small dog and cat room were missing pieces of laminate and needed repair. The facility management will be required to provide a detailed plan of correction for 1.3. (a) with an estimated timeline for completion.

The August 22, 2017 inspection report documented interior surfaces of the main dog kennel area and throughout the facility were in severe disrepair. Peeling paint and broken concrete prevented employees from being able to properly clean and disinfect these areas. Similarly, the food storage area had inadequately fixed holes in the walls at the floor that also prevented staff from cleaning and disinfecting these areas.

Over one month later, AHS-Newark failed to fix these issues.

9/26/17: Not corrected. The facility management will be required to provide a detailed plan of correction with an estimated timeline for completion.

Despite AHS-Newark finally starting to store food properly, it still had spilled food through the shelter. Therefore, AHS-Newark continued to set the conditions for a rodent infestation.

9/26/17: Partially corrected. Food was being stored correctly at the time of this site visit, but there were still pieces of kibble found in various areas, including behind the baseboard radiator back plate in the food storage room and on the floor in several areas.

Shockingly, AHS-Newark still did not have a supervising veterinarian establish a disease control program. A disease control program established by a supervising veterinarian is critical to ensuring animals stay as healthy as possible. Frankly, the fact AHS-Newark once again did not have such a disease control program should alone be the basis for shutting this shelter down.

9/26/17: Partially corrected. Medication logs were filled out with the dates that the medication had been administered to animals. Cleaning and disinfection protocols are under review by the NJDOH. A disease control program had not been established by the supervising veterinarian. The facility management shall provide a written disease control and health care plan established under the supervision and assistance of the supervising veterinarian. This requires immediate correction.

To make matters worse, the inspectors apparently could not identify a proper isolation area for sick animals. Isolating sick animals from healthy ones is the cornerstone of disease control in an animal shelter.

9/26/17: Partially corrected. A disease control and health care plan had not yet been established by the supervising veterinarian. It was unclear which room was to be the designated isolation room to be used only for the housing of animals being treated for or with signs of communicable disease. The isolation room is not to be used for any other purpose, including storage of items not for use in the isolation room and for housing animals that are not exhibiting signs of or being treated for a communicable disease.

Dogs in Basement Left in Horrible Conditions

AHS-Newark continued to not provide legally required exercise to dogs in its basement. Under state law, shelters must walk dogs for 20 minutes a day or exercise dogs in runs at least twice a day if such dogs reside in kennels below a certain size. The inspectors stated AHS-Newark must immediately house its so-called “aggressive” basement dogs in larger kennels.

9/26/17: Partially corrected. Dogs housed in the basement were the aggressive dogs that are unable to be safely walked. These dogs need to be housed in double enclosures to provide the minimum cage space as required for the size of the dogs housed in these enclosures. This requires immediate correction.

If providing no exercise to already stressed out dogs in AHS-Newark’s dungeon like basement was not bad enough, AHS-Newark continued to provide inadequate ventilation to these animals. As such, these dogs were subjected to odors and humidity. In fact, the inspectors noted these odors were “more prevalent” at this inspection than the last one.

9/26/17: Not corrected. The ventilation in the basement was insufficient to remove odors and humidity. Odors were more prevalent at the time of this site visit than the previous inspection. The facility management will be required to provide a detailed plan of correction with an estimated timeline for completion.

Dead Animals Still Left Outside Like Trash Near Live Dog Enclosures

During the August 22, 2017 inspection, AHS-Newark had bags of dead animals outside of its refrigerator and incinerator. To make matters worse, these dead animals were stored adjacent to the outside portions of live dog enclosures. According to a news article published on September 21, 2017, AHS Assistant Executive Director, Jill Van Tuyl, blamed outside agencies’ animal control officers and claimed she had new procedures to apparently rectify this problem.

Despite Jill Van Tuyl’s rosy solution, the inspectors found two bags containing dead raccoons in this place. Once again, AHS-Newark allowed dead animals to lie out like trash near outdoor enclosures that live dogs use.

9/26/17: Not corrected. There were two bags found on the floor outside behind the refrigeration unit that contained dead raccoons at the time of this site visit. The gate to the refrigeration unit was locked and inaccessible to inspectors and animal control officers arriving with animals.

AHS-Newark Continues to House Animals in Unsafe Conditions

The August 22, 2017 inspection report documented water leaking from AHS-Newark’s air conditioning system into the main dog kennel area and into an animal enclosure in the basement. According to the inspection report, the shelter did not correct this violation.

9/26/17: Not corrected. The previously unknown source of water was found to be flowing from the air conditioning units on the roof of the facility. The condensation pipe for the accumulated water from the evaporative coils was pouring directly onto the roof and was not being appropriately diverted as required. The facility management will need to comply with the requirements of and correct any deficiencies found by the Newark Code Enforcement Officers.

Previously, the inspectors documented a severe crack on the wall located at the door to the exterior dog kennels. How severe was this crack? The inspection report suggested a qualified engineer should evaluate the crack to determine if the wall would collapse.

While AHS-Newark patched this crack, the inspectors noted other parts of facility’s perimeter wall were also in similarly poor condition. How on earth does an organization taking in over $9 million of revenue last year allow its building to fall into this condition?

9/26/17: Partially corrected. This wall had been patched, but there were other areas along the perimeter wall that were in a similar condition at the time of this site visit. The Newark Code Enforcement Officers were on site to evaluate the condition of the building at the time of this site visit.

The August 22, 2017 inspection report noted the main and basement dog kennel areas were not structurally sound and maintained in good repair. Holes and cracks in the flooring existed throughout these animal enclosures and sheets of concrete were peeling up where the shelter attempted to make past repairs. Automatic watering stations had exposed pipes. Automatic feeders were present that staff could not properly clean and disinfect.

According to the September 26, 2017 inspection report, AHS-Newark only partially corrected these violations. Notably, serious problems must remain since the inspectors stated AHS-Newark must share a detailed plan with an estimated timeline for completion. The fact AHS-Newark did not even provide this plan calls its remediation efforts into question.

9/26/17: Partially corrected. The facility management shall provide a detailed plan of correction with an estimated timeline for completion.

Previously, the inspectors stated the guillotine doors in the dog kennel area were not strong enough to prevent dogs from escaping. In fact, a dog escaped its enclosure during the August 22, 2017 inspection. During the September 26, 2017 inspection, AHS-Newark said this was corrected. However, the inspectors disagreed and said the shelter must replace the guillotine doors and repair the adjacent walls. Once again, AHS-Newark’s absurd statement about solving these issues makes me seriously question its entire remediation program.

9/26/17: Said to have been corrected, but walls had not yet been repaired at the time of this site visit. Guillotine doors will need to be removed and replaced as the walls are repaired.

Departments’ of Health Must Shut AHS-Newark Down

The New Jersey and Newark health departments have allowed AHS-Newark to violate state law for decades. The New Jersey Commission of Investigation report on AHS in 2003 documented serious problems at AHS-Newark going back to the 1970s. Despite these repeated issues, the state and local health departments did little resolve them.

After AHS-Newark performed terribly during multiple inspections in 2009, the New Jersey Department of Health let AHS-Newark off easy. In a November 6, 2009 inspection report, the New Jersey Department of Health stated the following:

Many of the violations documented in the July 30 and August 26, 2009 inspections have been corrected and the conditions at this facility were improved at the time of this inspection. Management will need to maintain diligence during the more crowded and busy summer months to ensure continued compliance with New Jersey Administrative Code (N.J.A.C.) 8:23A 1.1 through 1.13.

Despite this upbeat statement, this very same inspection report documented serious problems such as improper cleaning and disinfecting procedures, not separating sick animals from healthy ones, not exercising dogs in small kennels, animal housing areas in severe disrepair and a lack of documentation to determine if sick animals received proper medical treatment. In other words, the New Jersey Department of Health gave AHS-Newark a free pass.

The New Jersey Commission of Investigation warned the New Jersey Department of Health and Newark Health Department six years earlier in its report on AHS that this approach is destined to fail. Specifically, they stated taking a collaborative approach with management that is not amenable to improving is a fruitless endeavor. Furthermore, the New Jersey Commission of Investigation stated these health departments “must be aggressive in pursuing legal proceedings” in these circumstances. Finally, the New Jersey Commission of Investigation explicitly asserted the municipality must take over the shelter or contract with another organization that will run the shelter properly in these situations.

The approach of the Department of Health and Senior Services to counsel and advise a shelter’s management on how to remedy the violations and improve the conditions is admirable. However, such an approach is effective only when the management is amenable to making the improvements. When it becomes clear that such an approach is unsuccessful, then the department must be aggressive in pursuing legal proceedings. The threat of enforcement proceedings, which typically appears in letters from the department to a shelter’s management, must be more than mere words. The failure to follow through leads to a loss of credibility for the department and reinforces the cavalier attitude of the shelter’s management. The inspecting and licensing authorities on the local level must conduct themselves in similar fashion. In the event of mounting fines and continued lack of responsiveness by shelter management, the municipality must be prepared to assume control of the shelter or entrust its operation to a suitable alternative.

Clearly, the New Jersey Department of Health and the Newark Department of Health and Community Wellness must start legal proceedings to shut AHS-Newark down unless Roseann Trezza, all other AHS executives and the entire AHS Board of Directors resign. Additionally, the City of Newark and all the other contracting municipalities must find a new organization to house their animals or run such a facility themselves. At best, AHS-Newark will make inadequate changes that will go away after the state health department stops following up. Simply put, AHS-Newark cannot operate properly with its current leadership.

Animal Advocates Must Continue to Demand for Change

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

  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 Absurd Response to Sordid State Inspection Report

Last week, the Newark Patch broke the story about the joint state and city health departments’ inspection of Associated Humane Societies-Newark. While the story highlighted many of the inspection’s devastating findings, it also allowed AHS-Newark to explain themselves. Even though the story quoted one of my Facebook posts on AHS-Newark from several months ago, it did not provide myself or any other animal advocates the opportunity to respond to the shelter’s assertions.

Did AHS-Newark provide reasonable explanations for the findings? Did the AHS-Newark responses inspire confidence that it will finally treat its animals properly? Will AHS-Newark start saving rather than killing so many of its animals?

AHS Executive Director Refuses to Speak

AHS Executive Director, Roseann Trezza, did not comment on the inspection. Instead, Roseann Trezza trotted out her Assistant Executive Director, Jill Van Tuyl, to talk to the media. If AHS won’t put out its leader, what does this signal? Clearly, the message is these issues are not worth the organization’s leader’s time and energy.

AHS sending out its Assistant Executive Director instead of Roseann Trezza indicates it business as usual for AHS-Newark. In 2009, AHS sent out its shelter manager, Denton Infield, after the New Jersey Department of Health’s horrific inspection report from that year. In 2011, AHS trotted out Mr. Infield again shortly after another terrible New Jersey Department of Health inspection to argue against former Mayor Booker’s plan for a new no kill shelter. Similarly, AHS sent former Assistant Executive Director, Scott Crawford, in subsequent years to criticize Cory Booker’s plans for the new no kill shelter and respond to animal advocates, such as in Maplewood. Thus, AHS sending out someone other than its leader is part of AHS-Newark’s disturbing pattern of failing to address its catastrophic problems.

AHS-Newark’s Lame Excuses for Illegal Killing

The inspection report indicated AHS-Newark violated the euthanasia requirements in state law by not doing the following:

  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

Furthermore, the inspection report stated AHS-Newark illegally killed many, including both stray and surrendered, animals during the seven day protection period.

AHS provided an incoherent response to these inspection report findings:

“We’re not euthanizing healthy animals that are coming in,” Van Tuyl told Patch. “These may be animals that are dying already, or that are in bad shape as deemed by the veterinarian. We don’t want animals suffering either. So I think that was taken out of context [by inspectors].”

Whether animals are healthy or not is irrelevant. State law requires animals be euthanized using a specified protocol to avoid emotional and physical pain. The fact that AHS would write off the animals as “dying already” or “in bad shape” to justify breaking state law and potentially killing/euthanizing them inhumanely shows an organization that refuses to admit mistakes. If an organization fails to admit wrongdoing, what hope do we have they will fix those problems?

Even if these animals were hopelessly suffering, AHS-Newark should know better. In the 2009 inspection report, AHS-Newark was told it could only euthanize animals during the seven day protection period if it met the following two conditions:

  1. If a veterinarian deems euthanasia necessary for humane reasons to prevent excessive suffering when illness and injury is severe and the prognosis for recovery is extremely poor
  2. Only a licensed veterinarian should perform euthanasia in the above situation and they must clearly document the humane rationale in the animal’s medical record

Therefore, AHS-Newark’s argument that these animals were hopelessly suffering does not seem to pass the “sniff test” since it did not appear to comply with these two conditions (i.e. August 22, 2017 inspection report made no mention of AHS-Newark doing this when discussing AHS-Newark violating the seven day protection period).

AHS-Newark’s statement that it doesn’t kill healthy animals coming into its facility is absurd. According to AHS-Newark’s own 2016 summary statistics, it killed 25% of dogs, 44% of cats and 85% of other domestic animals. However, statistics I calculated from reviewing AHS-Newark’s intake and disposition records in recent years were much worse than its summary statistics indicated. My review of AHS-Newark records provided to me for animals coming from Newark in 2014 found the shelter killed 67% of these dogs and 83% of these cats. Similarly, my review of AHS-Newark records for animals coming in from Irvington for the first nine or so months of 2015 found AHS-Newark killed 60% of these dogs and 75% of these cats. No one in their right mind would think anything close to this many animals were hopelessly suffering.

Data from animal control shelters throughout the nation, including many in poor, urban areas, show well under 10% of animals arriving to these facilities are hopelessly suffering or a serious danger to people. For example Kansas City’s animal control shelter, KC Pet Project, only euthanized 6% of dogs and 9% of the cats who had outcomes last year despite impounding many more of these animals in total and on a per capita basis than AHS-Newark.

Not surprising, AHS-Newark’s statement about primarily killing hopelessly suffering animals is similar to its statement below from 2013. Clearly, AHS-Newark’s statistics I calculated and individual animal records I obtained indicate those statements both then and now are absurd.

Crawford expressed sorrow over the deaths, but said the shelter risks the spread of disease with overcrowding and must euthanize animals that are terminally ill, too aggressive to rehabilitate or suffering from advanced age. In some instances – particularly during the summer – “some great pets, at no fault of their own, will be humanely euthanized” because too few people are willing to adopt the stray or abandoned animals, he said.

AHS-Newark also provided an explanation on how it would improve:

“Our vet now has a way of manually keeping records for animals that might be euthanized before the seven-day period,” Van Tuyl said, adding that the new policy will help with transparency.

So AHS-Newark’s vet has a new special way of manually keeping records? We should all feel overjoyed! What exactly is this “manual way of keeping records?” With no details, this statement is meaningless. Furthermore, the inspection report specifically noted AHS-Newark staff were already not following at least some of the vet’s other instructions. Therefore, we should have no confidence AHS-Newark will start doing so now. Finally, how does this help with transparency? AHS already stated in many of its agreements it will not honor records requests to it or the municipalities it contracts with under New Jersey’s Open Public Records act. Thus, this AHS-Newark comment provides no comfort that it will humanely euthanize animals, keep proper records, or provide transparency to the public.

Meaningless Response to Address Inhumane Conditions

The Newark Patch article quoted numerous extracts from the inspection report showing AHS-Newark treating animals horribly.

In response to these examples, AHS-Newark stated the following:

Van Tuyl told Patch that some of the alleged health and safety violations may have been a case of “bad timing.” For example, there was an incident where an animal had an accident and the responsible staff member didn’t get a chance to clean it before inspectors arrived.

“That being said, I’m not making any excuses,” Van Tuyl added.

While Jill Van Tuyl said she was “not making excuses”, that is what she actually did. Apparently, those pesky inspectors just happened to arrive the second after an animal defecated and that is why AHS-Newark hadn’t cleaned it up. In fact, AHS-Newark inappropriately left a poodle in his or her cage on cardboard and that was soaked with urine to the point it covered the poor animal’s rump. Similarly, rodent droppings, grime on food bowls, dried feces and vomit on cat trees, etc. were obviously not cleaned for long periods of time. Furthermore, the inspection report documented AHS-Newark not properly cleaning or caring for numerous animals.

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If this sounds familiar, AHS-Newark made the same “the inspectors came too early” excuse after the dismal 2009 inspection. Obviously, throwing that excuse never led to any substantial improvement.

Infield said the inspectors came in the morning before his staff started to clean — he says it’s impossible for the shelter to stay staffed 24 hours a day.

However, AHS-Newark claims it is fixing all this stuff:

The shelter is currently revamping its protocols to make sure that the health and safety issues get fixed. This includes efforts such as the phasing out of cardboard as bedding material and retraining of staff members, Van Tuyl said.

“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.”

So how is AHS-Newark fixing this stuff? One example is it is phasing out using cardboard improperly as bedding material? Why on earth does this require phasing out? Throw the cardboard out and put proper bedding in. This isn’t rocket science.

And how will AHS-Newark walk all of its dogs despite lacking the right amount and types of staff and volunteers? Jill Van Tuyl created a dog-walking log sheet. Geez, that sounds like it would take one minute using Microsoft Word. Instead, AHS-Newark needs to do the following:

  1. Hire more and better paid and qualified staff
  2. Recruit dozens of dog walking volunteers
  3. Institute the “Dogs Playing for Life” program to ensure nearly all dogs participate in playgroups

How will AHS-Newark’s new dog walking log solve the problem? Without doing the things above, the only way it could work in my mind is by creating false records.

Ridiculous Response to Dead Animals in Trash

The inspection report documented AHS-Newark having numerous dead bodies outside in garbage bags:

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AHS-Newark’s response was as follows:

Van Tuyl told Patch that some of the carcasses that inspectors saw may have been brought to Newark from other towns.

“What happens is that other animal control officers will come to our driveway and leave the carcasses,” she said. “Staff may not be aware of it and that’s why they may be left out.”

To help solve the problem, visiting ACOs are now prohibited from leaving the front office until an AHS staff member has made sure that any carcasses they left have been properly stored, Van Tuyl said.

How convenient? AHS-Newark blamed animal control officers from other agencies. Personally, I have a difficult time believing this explanation given inspectors noted the same thing in 2009 and AHS-Newark left at least one of those animals like trash themselves:

A large amount of animal carcasses were being stored outside in open plastic
bags, or piled on top of each other in shopping carts. Pools of blood and other fluid from the bodies were also present in this area. This created a severe fly and maggot infestation in addition to an overwhelming malodorous smell. Carcasses must be stored under refrigeration or in tightly sealed containers if they are to be held on the premises. As mentioned in 1.6(e} below, inspectors found a dead cat (#83660} in one of the colony rooms while inspecting. Staff members told the inspectors that a necropsy would be done on this cat to discover the cause of death. However, when Inspector Bialy later viewed the crematorium area, this dead cat’s body was lying on top of a shopping cart outside with the rest of the animal carcasses.

Even if AHS-Newark’s statement blaming outside agencies’ ACOs was true, why on earth wouldn’t AHS-Newark check this area regularly? The inspectors noted the bodies attracted a “swarm of flies” indicating they were outside for some time. Additionally, if AHS-Newark’s statement is true, it had at least eight years to rectify this issue with the outside agencies’ ACOs. If they did not comply, AHS-Newark could have terminated its contracts.

Blaming the New Guy for Horrific Treatment of a Skunk

AHS-Newark left a skunk in a covered carrier to suffer in the hot sun next to the aforementioned dead bodies and the facility’s incinerator. Air temperatures reached 87 degrees and the temperature in the carrier were likely higher as it was on a concrete surface that absorbs heat. The AHS-Newark manager initially stated the carrier had no skunk, but then said it was dead after the inspector pointed out the animal under the cover. Would AHS-Newark have thrown the animal in the incinerator alive with the dead bodies next to it if the inspector did not intervene?

AHS-Newark’s response was priceless:

Van Tuyl admitted that the skunk incident was unacceptable.

“That shouldn’t have happened,” she told Patch. “I’m still not sure where the breakdown in communication happened. I will say that a brand-new employee was involved in that. It goes back to the retraining that we’re doing right now to make sure things like that don’t happen again.”

Once again, AHS-Newark’s leadership failed to accept responsibility. While Jill Van Tuyl said “it shouldn’t have happened”, she blamed a new employee. Isn’t it Roseann Trezza’s and Jill Van Tuyl’s responsibility to hire competent people and train them? Instead, they blamed a lowly paid employee and avoided taking responsibility.

“Significant Progress” Fixing Things That Really Isn’t

In the article, Jill Van Tuyl bragged about the major things they did over the approximate four week time since the inspection:

For now, staff have made “significant progress,” she pointed out. Repairs already completed include:

  • Removing the chain link fence above the kennels
  • Disposing of dirty food containers
  • Throwing out dirty cat trees
  • “Proactively” replacing drain caps in the kennels
  • Revamping record-keeping procedures, including intake and euthanasia paperwork
  • Removing old shelves in the cat areas

While the remaining violations from the Aug. 22 inspection are still unabated, Van Tuyl asserted that the shelter’s staff are hard at work on making things right.

“We’re looking at this as an opportunity to address some things that we’ve always wanted to,” she told Patch. “This can be the change that everyone has wanted, including the staff.”

So after nearly one month AHS-Newark got rid of some dirty food containers and cat trees, replaced a few drain caps and removed some old shelves? Frankly, this would take at most a few hours.

As for removing the chain link fence above the dog kennels, I’m not sure if they really mean the chain link gate on top of the outdoor dog enclosures mentioned in the inspection report? If this is what they did, that again would take little effort. If they actually removed an entire chain link fence over the dog kennels, I’m not sure why this is a big deal since AHS-Newark could have simply cleaned it.

Most important, AHS-Newark admitted it still is violating state law. To argue they “always wanted to do” these things is laughable. Despite repeatedly being called out by inspectors and animal advocates, Roseann Trezza never acted. Only now when AHS-Newark is under severe pressure, is it trying to talk a good game.

AHS-Newark Blames the Public and Advocates

Jill Van Tuyl made another rationalization for AHS-Newark’s killing:

“Other shelters don’t necessarily hold bite cases or aggressive dogs or other unadoptable animals, whereas in Newark, that’s where they’re brought,” Van Tuyl said. “So it looks like we’re disproportionately euthanizing animals, but were getting in a lot of very tough cases, animals that are not necessarily adoptable.”

In reality, hundreds of animal control shelters saving well over 90% of their dogs impound the exact kinds of animals. AHS-Newark’s disingenuous attempt to dupe the public is sad. For example, does AHS-Newark really believe Kansas City’s public intake shelter does not get its fair share of “tough cases.” In addition, I reviewed many of AHS-Newark’s records of animals coming in from Newark and Irvington, which are two of its most impoverished contracting communities, from recent years and almost all the dogs it killed were not hopelessly vicious.

If this argument sounds familiar, AHS stated similar things in 2011 and 2013 to prevent Newark from opening a new no kill shelter. Just as the case was then, AHS-Newark’s arguments are not serious.

Jill Van Tuyl left her true wrath for animal advocates demanding AHS-Newark properly shelter animals:

And it really gets her goat when people accuse the shelter’s workers of being uncompassionate, she told Patch.

“I’ve been doing this for 25 years,” she said. “If I didn’t care about the animals, I wouldn’t be in such a stressful industry. The staff does the best we can. It’s a tough building with a lot of challenges. And I don’t think that anyone is working here for the very low rate of pay. They can go down the street and make more money at McDonald’s.”

As we’ve seen over and over, just because an organization calls itself “humane” or someone works at a shelter, it doesn’t mean they care about animals. Ask yourself if people doing/allowing the following “care about the animals?”

  • Leaving a skunk in a covered carrier during a hot August day next to dead animals and an incinerator
  • Leaving ill and injured animals to suffer
  • Allowing highly contagious diseases to spread
  • Illegally killing animals during the seven day protection period
  • Possibly killing animals inhumanely
  • Having dead bodies in bags and a shopping cart for apparently long periods of time near an area housing live dogs
  • Leaving animals in conditions where they could injure themselves

If this was not bad enough, AHS-Newark sought to take on the state’s second largest city’s animal control and sheltering contract from a facility saving 93% of its dogs and 94% of its cats in March of this year.

So no Jill, AHS-Newark, particularly its leadership, does not give a damn about its animals. All it cares about is money.

Furthermore, if this is the “best” job AHS-Newark staff “can” do, then AHS-Newark should get new staff. Despite AHS taking in $9.4 million of revenue last year, Jill Van Tuyl admits her staff “can make more money at McDonald’s.” Perhaps, Roseann Trezza should properly manage her organization’s financial resources and use some of her $112 thousand dollar salary to pay her people a living wage. Maybe then, she could attract good employees and motivate them to properly treat animals and actually save their lives.

AHS-Newark claimed it just needs people to help it:

According to Van Tuyl, the most unproductive thing that that people can do for the shelter and its animals right now is to start playing the blame game.

“It’s easy to point fingers and say we’re not doing things right,” she told Patch. “But very few people have stepped up to the plate to help.”

The shelter needs volunteers and donors who can pitch in and clean, do projects and generally help in any way possible, Van Tuyl said. In particular, there is an urgent need for linens and bedding at the moment.

The shelter can also use Kuranda-brand beds to help them withstand some of the roughhousing from the facility’s “very strong bully breeds,” Van Tuyl said.

A good example of recent help from the community was AHS’s first-ever participation in the annual “Clear The Shelter” adoption event, which was pulled off with the key assistance of some longtime volunteers.

“People can just reach out and ask us, ‘What do you need?’” Van Tuyl emphasized.

In reality, no amount of volunteer help will make up for terrible leadership. AHS-Newark makes no serious effort to recruit volunteers. In fact, its web site contains many requests for financial and other donations, but nothing that I see about how to volunteer and what specific things volunteers can do.

Furthermore, AHS-Newark has a history of banning volunteers. How do I know? AHS-Newark banned my wife and I after we played a significant part in developing (as much as the organization allowed us to) the modern version of its volunteer program. After two and half years of working nearly 24/7 trying to save animals from AHS-Newark, AHS-Newark banned us by blocking us from their Petfinder adoption web site account. Despite requesting a reason, AHS-Newark did not respond at the time. Our successors met a similar fate as have many others. Thus, AHS-Newark’s requests that it wants volunteers reeks of hypocrisy.

AHS-Newark wants a volunteer program in name only. In other words, it wants to say it has volunteers, but have as few as possible to avoid them discovering and unearthing AHS-Newark’s dirty secrets.

Therefore, people must ignore the AHS-Newark spin, and continue to demand the following:

  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 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) 753-3000; adrian.mapp@plainfieldnj.gov
Roselle: (908) 956-5557; cdansereau@boroughofroselle.com
Rahway: 732-827-2009; mayor@cityofrahway.com
Winfield Park: (908) 925-3850

Without a fundamental change of the AHS leadership, the animals at AHS-Newark will continue to suffer and needlessly lose their lives.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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).

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter Shows Improvement, But Serious Problems Remain: Part 2

Update: 8/4/17: Subsequent to writing this blog, the Elizabeth Health Department “located” its 2016 inspection report performed by the Linden Health Department. This report noted several problems. I updated the inspection section of this blog to discuss this report.

My last blog discussed several changes the Elizabeth Animal Shelter made in 2016 after animal advocates raised concerns about the facility. Elizabeth Animal Shelter stopped illegally killing owner surrendered animals during the seven day protection period in 2016. As a result, the shelter’s live release rate significantly increased, but the shelter almost entirely relied on rescues and appeared to limit the number of animals it took in. You can read that blog here.

This blog will examine whether Elizabeth Animal Shelter still kills healthy and treatable animals. Additionally, this blog will answer the question as to whether the shelter still violates state law.

Shelter Continues to Illegally Transfer Stray Animals During the Seven Day Hold Period

Elizabeth Animal Shelter transferred and adopted out 73 dogs and cats during the seven day stray hold period in 2016. 64 of the 73 animals were cats which often have very low owner reclaim rates. Of the 64 cats, 52 were kittens which are highly susceptible to catching deadly illnesses in animal shelters. Additionally, the shelter sent a number of animals to rescue groups that provided much needed medical care. Thus, Elizabeth Animal Shelter appeared to release many of these animals during the seven day hold period with good intentions.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter should retain ownership of the animals it releases during the seven day hold period. In other words, Elizabeth Animal Shelter should have the rescues and adopters “foster” these animals during this time. After seven days, the rescuers and adopters should then take ownership of the pet. While the animal is being fostered, the shelter should keep photos and other records as well as the rescue’s/adopter’s contact information to allow someone to redeem their pet. Similarly, the individual or group fostering the animal must return the pet back to the owner during the stray hold period. Thus, Elizabeth Animal Shelter can easily comply with state law, give owners a chance to reclaim their lost pets, and create much needed space to save lives.

Shelter Still Kills Healthy and Treatable Animals

Overall, Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s most commonly killed dogs for “aggression” and “severe behavior issues.” If we also add related problems, such as dog aggression, food aggression, leash behavior and bite cases, the shelter killed almost all dogs for some form of alleged aggression. In fact, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed 19 of 22 dogs or 86% of these animals for aggression related problems.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s classified too many dogs with aggression and related behavioral issues. The shelter killed 6% of all dogs for aggression and similar reasons. On the one hand, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed a much lower percentage of dogs for so-called aggression than the regressive Bergen County Animal Shelter (21% of all dogs in 2015; 29% of dogs from Kearny in 2016). However, Elizabeth 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). Furthermore, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed 18% of all pit bulls for aggression related behavioral issues in 2016 compared to just 2% of all pit bulls at Austin Animal Center during fiscal year 2016 (that number may have dropped to as low as 1% by the last quarter of the year). In other words, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed pit bulls for aggression related problems at a rate of 9-18 times higher than Austin Animal Center.

2016 Elizabeth Animal Shelter Dogs Killed ReasonsAs I mentioned in my blog last year, Elizabeth Animal Shelter brought in a former volunteer from Associated Humane Societies-Newark as a response to public outcry about the shelter illegally killing two dogs immediately upon intake in 2014. In her role, this contractor evaluates dogs, makes recommendations about whether a dog is suitable for adoption, and networks with rescues and donors to increase lifesaving and improve animal care. Clearly, this person has done an excellent job coordinating with rescues. Thus, I believe this part time contractor has done good work.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter may be misusing its part time contractor’s behavioral evaluations to justify killing dogs. Despite some concerns from other animal advocates, the part time contractor’s written evaluations did not call for the shelter to kill dogs. In fact, many of the evaluations concluded the dogs were very good. However, the shelter performed evaluations for 16 of the 19 dogs it killed for alleged aggression related issues. Based on my review of these 16 evaluations, all of them had some negative findings. In some cases, the evaluations recommended a special home, but it seems to me as if the shelter leadership used these evaluations as an excuse to kill.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s continued reliance on discredited temperament testing methods is concerning. Recently, a study found behavioral evaluations were scientifically invalid and recommended shelters should instead socialize dogs to truly determine behavior. Even the proponents of temperament testing, such as the ASPCA, state shelters should use evaluations to identify a behavioral rehabilitation plan to try and make the animal adoptable. I found no evidence of the shelter attempting to seriously rehabilitate alleged problem behaviors in dogs. Thus, Elizabeth Animal Shelter used scientifically invalid temperament testing methods and may have failed to use these evaluations to fix supposed behavioral problems.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed several dogs for alleged aggression related issues despite owners reporting no such issues. Shelter temperament testing methods are inherently flawed as the testing conditions (i.e. in a stressful shelter) do not replicate conditions a dog experiences in a home. Carez was a 7-9 year old gray pit bull surrendered to the Elizabeth Animal Shelter on December 29, 2016. The owner reported no behavior or aggression issues and stated Carez was good with dogs, kids, adults and was house trained. On January 9, 2017, Elizabeth Animal Shelter evaluated Carez, who they renamed as Cupcake, and stated she “refused handling”, attempted to bite when handled, and was fearful and timid. In other words, Carez/Cupcake was afraid after going to a scary shelter environment. Ten days later Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed Carez/Cupcake for human and dog aggression despite the owner reporting she was good with both people and dogs. Furthermore, no records provided to me indicated the shelter tried to rehabilitate this dog’s alleged behavior problems. Thus, Elizabeth Animal Shelter appeared to use its behavioral evaluation as a justification to kill Carez/Cupcake and did not seem to make any effort to fix those claimed behavior problems.

Dog 16-L Surrender Form.jpg

Dog 16-L Evaluation.jpg

Dog 16-L Kill Record

Ghost was a two year old pit bull-boxer mix that was surrendered to the Elizabeth Animal Shelter along with his house mate, Blackie, on July 7, 2016. Ghost’s owner reported he had no behavioral or health issues. Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s evaluation stated he snapped, growled with teeth, attempted to bite and darted away when handled, had “higher energy”, but was controllable, was “dominant”, “does not like other people”, was not good with other dogs except Blackie, and requires an “adult only home.” Despite Ghost’s owner surrender form contradicting this evaluation and him being at the shelter a mere nine days, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed Ghost for having a “Severe Behavior Issue.” No records I received indicated any effort to fix these alleged behavior problems.

Dog 8-G Surrender Form.jpg

Dog 8-G Evaluation.jpg

Dog 8-G Kill Record

Ghost’s companion, Blackie, was a five year old pit bull-Labrador retriever mix that was surrendered to the Elizabeth Animal Shelter on the same day. Blackie’s owner also stated on the dog’s surrender form that Blackie had no behavioral or medical issues. Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s evaluation of Blackie was almost identical to Ghost’s temperament test except the shelter concluded Blackie was “hyper” rather than “high energy” and controllable, and grabbed treats roughly. Additionally, the evaluation made no reference to Blackie not liking people. Once again, despite the owner surrender form contradicting the Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s evaluation, the facility killed Blackie just nine days after he arrived at the shelter and on the very same day as his house mate, Ghost. No records I received indicated any effort to fix these alleged behavior problems.

Dog 9-G Surrender Form.jpg

Dog 9-G Evaluation.jpg

Dog 9-G Kill Record

Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s reasons for killing cats are listed below. Overall, the shelter still killed a significant number of cats it deemed feral or having a behavior issue. Frankly, a shelter should never kill a cat for any behavioral reason given such cats can be neutered and released or go to a barn/warehouse. Additionally, the shelter killed many cats for no disclosed reason. If Elizabeth Animal Shelter did not kill healthy and treatable feral and other cats (presumably cats killed for no reason were not hopelessly suffering), the shelter’s euthanasia rate would be 8% or the rate I target for animal control facilities. While a good number of the other cats may have been hopelessly suffering, the shelter failed to provide a specific veterinary diagnosis for a substantial portion (i.e. 13 cats with undisclosed severe injuries/illnesses and other undisclosed injuries and illnesses) of these animals. As a result, no one can say for sure how many of these animals were truly hopelessly suffering.

2016 Elizabeth Animal Shelter Cats Killed Reasons.jpg

Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed several cats for absurd or no reasons. Cat 31-J’s owner died and she was surrendered to the Elizabeth Animal Shelter on October 24, 2016. Despite having a home previously, the shelter concluded she had a “Severe Behavior Issue” and killed her just 11 days later. Furthemore, the shelter’s euthanasia record erroneously stated she was killed on October 20 (four days before she arrived at the facility).

Cat 31-J Killed

Cat 31-J Intake Plus Disposition Record

Cat 31-J Kill FormCat 12-L was a 10 year old cat taken to the Elizabeth Animal Shelter on December 14, 2016 by the property managers of an apartment complex. Presumably, this cat lived in a home, perhaps in one of the apartments in this building, since the property managers noted the cat was house trained. Despite this fact, the Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed this older cat for being feral and aggressive a little after a month later.

Cat 12-L Surrender Form.jpg

Cat 12-L Kill Record

Cat 21-F was surrendered with three other cats on June 16, 2016. According to the owner, none of these cats, including 21-F, had any behavioral or health issues. Two weeks later, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed 21-F for no reason other than the animal being at the shelter for more than seven days.

Cat 21-F Surrender Form

Cat 21-F Kill Record.jpg

Shelter Provides More Veterinary Care, But Must Make Further Improvements

Elizabeth Animal Shelter provided veterinary care to some animals during the year. In 2015, the shelter essentially provided no veterinary care other than killing based on the records provided to me. Several animal advocates, including myself, raised these concerns last year. In 2016, Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s veterinarian treated a number of animals at the shelter. Therefore, the pressure put on the shelter by animal advocates improved the care provided to the animals.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter must provide better veterinary care. While the shelter did treat some animals, I saw no evidence of the facility vaccinating animals upon intake. Shelter medicine experts strongly recommend facilities immediately vaccinate animals upon intake to reduce disease among the animal population. Elizabeth Animal Shelter should start doing this as its clearly better for the animals and will ultimately reduce the cost of treating sick animals. Additionally, the veterinary records I reviewed were often not very detailed and frequently illegible. Furthermore, many of the records I examined failed to fully meet the New Jersey Department of Health’s requirements. Thus, the Elizabeth Animal Shelter should vaccinate all animals immediately upon intake and improve its veterinary record keeping.

Shelter Has No Disease Control Program and Does Not Keep All Required Records

Elizabeth Animal Shelter currently has no disease control program. While the city’s Health Officer, assured me a draft program is currently under review by the Elizabeth Dog Control Committee, this is unacceptable. Under state law, a shelter must have a disease control program in order to operate. Last year, the New Jersey Department of Health made this explicitly clear:

If a facility does not have a disease control program established and maintained by a licensed veterinarian, the facility cannot be licensed to operate in New Jersey.

Therefore, Elizabeth Animal Shelter must put an appropriate disease control program into place as soon as possible.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter also failed to document the breed on many cats it took in as required by state law. The shelter should start doing so especially since it does not require much effort.

Local Health Department Inspections Reveal Problems

Under N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.2, local health authorities must inspect licensed animal shelters each year to ensure compliance with state laws. In other words, an animal shelter cannot legally operate without an inspection showing the facility is following the law.

The Linden Health Department conducted a poor quality inspection of Elizabeth Animal Shelter in 2014. This inspection found no serious issues, but animal advocates, including myself, documented numerous shelter law violations at that time. Linden Health Department is the same health department that ran Linden Animal Control’s facility. Not only did Linden fail to inspect its own shelter for seven years, but the New Jersey Department of Health forced Linden to close its house of horrors later on in 2014. Thus, this positive 2014 inspection report lacked credibility.

To make matters worse, Elizabeth Animal Shelter provided no 2015 inspection report. In 2014, the Elizabeth Animal Shelter inspected Linden Animal Control’s dreadful facility after the City of Linden failed to inspect its shelter for seven years. Despite knowing about this law, the City of Elizabeth apparently did not have its own shelter inspected in 2015. Thus, Elizabeth Animal Shelter should not have had a license to operate in 2015.

The Linden Health Department’s 2016 inspection of Elizabeth Animal Shelter found several concerning issues. Specifically, the inspection report noted the following

  1. Shelter did not have a required fire inspection
  2. The exhaust fan in the isolation area did not work (i.e. could result in infectious diseases spreading)
  3. Shelter had structural problems with the facility’s flooring
  4. Several damaged enclosures had wires used as a repair, but those wires could injure animals
  5. Cat enclosures were not adequate to house these animals
  6. Outside dog cages needed repairs
  7. Outside dog enclosures barriers not effective and might not prevent dogs from fighting
  8. Large stones used to block outside dog enclosures’ trough did not allow staff to clean properly

Despite these issues, the Linden Health Department gave Elizabeth Animal Shelter a “Conditional A” instead of an “Unsatisfactory” grade on the inspection. If the Linden Health Department found this many problems, one must wonder what the more competent New Jersey Department of Health would find.

Currently, Elizabeth Animal Shelter has not had a 2017 inspection performed despite 15 months passing since the last required annual inspection.

Records Continue to Raise Concerns as to Whether Elizabeth Animal Shelter Humanely Euthanizes Animals 

Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s records did not specify the euthanasia drug it used (the records state “Euth.” which could mean Euthasol or just an unnamed euthanasia drug) and the method of euthanasia again in 2016. As a result, we cannot determine whether the shelter euthanized animals humanely as I discussed in last year’s blog.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter use of pure Ketamine as a sedative is not humane. The Humane Society of United State Euthanasia Reference Manual states shelters should not use Ketamine alone to sedate an animal for killing as it makes the animal’s muscles rigid and the injection stings so much that the animal reacts very negatively to it. If that was not bad enough, large doses can cause convulsions and seizures. To make matters worse, Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s records indicate the facility used excessive doses as they did in 2015 of Ketamine making such horrific side effects more likely.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter also purchased a massive supply of Ketamine at the end of 2015. Specifically, the shelter purchased 600 milliliters of the branded Ketamine drug, Ketathesia, which would provide recommended sedative doses for 1,500 cats weighing 8 pounds or 240 dogs weighing 50 pounds. Clearly, this purchase greatly exceeds the 41 cats and 22 dogs killed in 2016. In fact, this amount of Ketamine is also much more than would be needed for the number of animals the shelter would kill at this rate over the five year shelf life of the drug. To make matters worse, I did not see the legally required listing of inventory of both Ketamine and Fatal Plus (Sodium pentobarbital) or whatever killing agent the facility used on hand at the beginning and end of the year. One has to wonder what the shelter is doing with this huge supply of Ketamine? Given this is a widely abused drug, it certainly raises questions in my mind.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter 2016 Ketamine Invoice.jpg

Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s euthanasia logs list questionable weights for the animals and raise questions as to whether the shelter actually weighed the animals. Under N.J.A.C. 8:23A-1.11 (f) 3 and 4, shelters must weigh each animal and keep a log of those body weights as well as the drugs used to immobilize and euthanize the animals. Almost all the adult cats weighed exactly 8 pounds. Additionally, most of the weights listed for dogs were convenient numbers, such as 60, 65, and 80 pounds. Frankly, I find it highly unlikely that many dogs just happened to weigh in at these user friendly amounts.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter Proves Shelter Reform Bill S3019 Will Save Lives

S3019 requires shelters to notify rescues at least two business days before killing an animal. While this bill should mandate shelters give animals to rescues the shelters would otherwise kill, existing animal cruelty laws (i.e. “needlessly killing an animal”) likely would also bar shelters from killing such pets. When this provision of S3019 is combined with the state’s existing ban on killing animals, whether stray or surrendered, for seven days, shelters will have a strong incentive to send animals, particularly owner surrenders, to rescues. Furthermore, rescues will have more time to save animals from shelters.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s compliance with the seven day protection period in 2016 and its significantly higher live release rate show how successful S3019 would be. As mentioned above, Elizabeth Animal Shelter does not really follow 10 of the 11 No Kill Equation programs. Despite this, the shelter nearly achieved a 90% live release rate once it stopped illegally killing animals during the seven day protection period. Why? The Elizabeth Animal Shelter is extremely rescue friendly and these rescues had the time to save many pets. Thus, S3019 would significantly increase live release rates at many of New Jersey’s high kill shelters.

S3019’s other requirements would further increase live release rates. Under the bill, shelters must stay open five hours every weekday, including one day until at least 7 pm, and one weekend day. Additionally, the bill requires shelters to take numerous steps to reunite lost pets with their families that most facilities do not currently do. Furthermore, it requires shelters to use web sites and social media to promote animals for adoption. Finally, the bill mandates shelters provide improved veterinary and behavioral care that will make pets more adoptable. Thus, S3019’s requirements would clearly increase Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s live release rate and allow the shelter to save more homeless animals.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s Unsustainable Path

Clearly, Elizabeth Animal Shelter must fix many basic sheltering issues. Specifically, the shelter must pass rigorous inspections every year, create and implement a robust disease control program, keep proper records, comply with the stray/hold law, and only euthanize animals humanely. Simply put, Elizabeth Animal Shelter must follow the law.

While the shelter’s apparent decision to impound fewer cats is preferable to killing these animals, the shelter is allowing problems to grow. Elizabeth Animal Shelter does not practice TNR to any significant degree. Therefore, the stray cats the shelter does not neuter and release remain intact and will continue to breed on the streets. Ultimately, residents will complain and either force the shelter to catch and kill these animals or potentially take matters into their own hands. Clearly, Elizabeth needs to practice TNR or better yet, Return to Field, preferably with the help of cat advocates, to limit the community cat population and resolve conflicts with people.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s complete reliance on a part time contractor to network with the rescue community is not sustainable. While this person has done an admirable job networking with rescues, it is unrealistic to expect this person to remain long-term at the shelter with the city paying her no more than $16,000 a year. Furthermore, the person will have difficulty performing all her duties with her just working 20 hours a week. In other words, Elizabeth should hire this contractor on a full time basis and adequately compensate her.

At a minimum, the city should reallocate the time this contractor spends conducting scientifically invalid behavioral evaluations to activities that would improve live release rates and care provided to animals. For example, this person could help design an enrichment program in conjunction with the shelter veterinarian, and help carry it out. Similarly, the part-time contractor could use this time to take engaging photos and videos of animals and write excellent adoption profiles.

Last year, this house of cards nearly collapsed. At the time, postings on social media suggested the city might part ways with this contractor. Thankfully, the rescue community protested and the part-time contractor remained with the shelter. However, this incident reveals how easily the shelter could regress.

Ultimately, a shelter must comprehensively adopt the 11 step No Kill Equation if it truly wants to succeed. Clearly, the Elizabeth Animal Shelter significantly improved after following the state’s seven day owner surrender protection period and using one No Kill Equation program, rescue partnerships. However, if the Elizabeth Animal Shelter wants to consistently provide a refuge for all the city’s homeless animals, it must enact most, if not all, of these programs.

Associated Humane Societies Fights to Kill or Dump Five Dogs

In early 2016, the Monmouth County SPCA investigated an Aberdeen Township resident’s dogs. During the Monmouth County SPCA’s inspection, the investigator noted the owner’s dogs were housed in a garage and outside. Additionally, the inspector stated the animals were in good health, had appropriate housing, but lacked access to readily available water. According to the owner, she only kept the dogs outside for a few hours and understood the inspector’s warning that the dogs must have water available when outside. On the same day, the inspector determined that the owner’s dogs were not licensed.

Subsequently, the Monmouth County SPCA notified Associated Humane Societies-Tinton Falls, which serves as Aberdeen Township’s animal control and sheltering organization, that the owner had unlicensed dogs. Shortly after, one of the resident’s dogs contracted rabies and bit several people. AHS-Tinton Falls then impounded the five other dogs living at the residence due to their potential exposure to rabies.

Aberdeen Township and the Monmouth County Health Department conflicted over the fate of these five dogs. Initially, the Monmouth County Health Department allowed the owners of the five dogs, Kim Rogers, to confine the dogs on her property for a six months rabies quarantine period based on the New Jersey Department of Health’s December 2014 guidelines for dogs exposed to a rabid animal without visible bites. In a sharply worded letter sent on February 8, 2016, Aberdeen Township objected and demanded the Monmouth County Health Department order the killing of these five healthy dogs.

Associated Humane Societies Seeks to Kill or Dump the Five Dogs

On the day after Aberdeen Township sought to kill the five dogs, AHS-Tinton Falls General Manager, Veronica Ehrenspeck, sent an email to AHS Executive Director, Roseann Trezza, and former AHS Assistant Executive Director, Scott Crawford. Ms. Ehrenspeck stated the Monmouth County Health Department preferred to have AHS-Tinton Falls confine the dogs for the six month rabies quarantine period and then return the dogs to the owner rather than immediately kill the dogs due to potential backlash from “animal activists.” She went on to state Monmouth County would pay all boarding costs. Despite this generous offer, Ms Eherenspeck claimed AHS would incur costs related to rabies vaccines, medical care, and housing. She also expressed concerns about AHS staff, other animals, and the public being exposed to dogs that may potentially develop rabies. Finally, Ms. Ehrenspect seemed to insinuate killing was the only option when she said “I don’t know any boarding facilities or towns that would want this exposure in their backyard.” Veronica Ehrenspeck Email Part 1

Veronica Ehrenspeck Email Part 2

Within an hour after receiving the AHS-Tinton Falls General Manager’s email, Roseann Trezza fired off an email to New Jersey Department of Health Senior Public Health Veterinarian, Dr. Colin Campbell, to apparently seek assistance. While Ms. Trezza’s email is hard to understand, I interpret it to mean she’d rather kill the dogs than have the dogs go back to the owner, who she alleges is a “breeder”, after the dogs serve the six month quarantine period at her Tinton Falls shelter. Frankly, I find this deeply disturbing as a shelter director should not try to pit a state and county regulator of animal shelters against each other.

Roseann Trezza Email to Colin Campbell Pt 1

Roseann Trezza Email to Colin Campbell Pt 2

Dr. Colin Campbell responded the next day and told Ms. Trezza that they might prevent the owner from receiving the dogs back if the owner gets convicted for animal cruelty or operating an unlicensed kennel. However, Dr. Campbell correctly included Monmouth County Health Officer, Christopher Merkel, to keep him aware of this discussion.

Dr. Colin Campbell Response to Roseann Trezza Pt 1

Dr. Colin Campbell Response to Roseann Trezza Pt 2.jpg

On the very next day, Roseann Trezza forwarded a “rough draft” of a letter prepared by Scott Crawford to Dr. Colin Campbell, but not the Monmouth County Health Officer, arguing AHS-Tinton Falls should kill the dogs. In the rambling letter, Mr. Crawford stated returning the dogs to Kim Rogers was “taken off the table” after a meeting with AHS and the Monmouth County Health Department. Despite AHS achieving their goal of preventing the owner from getting her dog back, Mr. Crawford claimed the five dogs were too great a risk to AHS staff, other animals at their shelter and the general public. In fact, Scott Crawford argued no shelter should adopt out these dogs even after a six month quarantine period citing rabies risk based on unnamed studies. Thus, Mr. Crawford said he’d prefer to kill the five dogs.

Scott Crawford went on in the letter to demand the Monmouth County Health Department let him kick the dogs out of his facility. In the letter, Mr. Crawford acted as if he was doing the Monmouth County Health Department a favor by giving them a few extra days over a holiday weekend to find another facility to house the five dogs. To show just how good a guy he was, Mr. Crawford offered to kill the dogs since in his “professional opinion at one point or another in the near future, a portion of if not all of these dogs originated from Kim Rogers’ residence will be sheading the rabies virus due to the circumstances surrounding this case.”

On the very next day, AHS seemed to succeed in its fight to kill the Aberdeen Five dogs. The Monmouth County Board of Health sent a letter to Kim Rogers stating they would kill her dogs in 7 days unless she provided proof of ownership, such as dog licensing and/or registration, and either a rabies inoculation certificate or documentation from her veterinarian that the animals received care. Ms. Rogers ultimately could not comply with these demands.

Wayne Township Animal Shelter Saves the Aberdeen Five

Miraculously, the Monmouth County Board of Health found alternative placement for the five dogs two weeks later. On February 26, the Monmouth Board of Health ordered AHS-Tinton Falls to transfer the Aberdeen Five to Wayne Township Animal Shelter. Around a month later, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders and Wayne Township reached an agreement where Monmouth County would pay $11,000 to Wayne Township to house the five dogs during the remainder of the six month quarantine period.

Wayne Township adopted out four of the five pit bull like dogs shortly after their quarantine period ended in August 2016. The shelter adopted out the following dogs:

  1. Tride Daddy, a three and half year old male, in September 2016
  2. Mamo Moo, a four year old female, in September 2016
  3. Baby Rosie, a nine month old female, in October 2016
  4. Jada, a four year old female, in January 2017

The fifth dog, Trigger, is currently up for adoption at the Wayne Township Animal Shelter. I’d encourage those looking for a dog to consider adopting Trigger.

Associated Humane Societies’ Reprehensible Actions

Scott Crawford’s argument that the five dogs posed a significant rabies risk to the public after the six month quarantine period is not supported by scientific evidence. As discussed above, the New Jersey Department of Health’s rabies policy at the time allowed confining animals potentially exposed to rabies for six months in lieu of killing. Ironically, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association shared its new rabies guidelines reducing the quarantine period from six months to four months the day before Scott Crawford wrote his dissertation on why authorities should kill the Aberdeen Five. Specifically, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association made this recommendation based on cases of animals developing rabies more than six months after exposure being “extaordinarily rare”:

The committee based the guidance on unpublished data from states that provided information on the incubation period for rabies in unvaccinated cats and dogs. There are cases in the literature of animals developing rabies more than six months after exposure, Dr. Brown noted, but these also are extraordinarily rare. She said the mean incubation period is about six weeks.

Subsequently, the New Jersey Department of Health altered their guidelines for handling animals potentially exposed to rabies. In March 2016, the state agency reduced the quarantine period from six months to four months. Furthermore, the New Jersey Department of Health issued another directive in May 2016 stating health departments and shelters should confine rather than kill dogs not exhibiting clinical signs of the disease.

The fact that the Aberdeen Five dogs never came down with rabies after the six month quarantine period proves AHS was dead wrong. If AHS had their way, these five young dogs would never have received the opportunity to begin a new life.

AHS failed to provide one of the key services animal control shelters perform. Holding animals to protect public health is a key function animal control shelters provide. In fact, municipalities contract with third party shelters in part to house animals for rabies observation periods. Frankly, AHS-Tinton Falls effectively argued it was unable to properly quarantine these five dogs and protect its staff, which were not all vaccinated against rabies, other animals and the general public. If this is the case, should AHS-Tinton Falls have a license to operate an animal control shelter? If it was up to me, I would not award AHS a license to operate an animal control shelter unless it does one of the following:

  1. Reduces the number of municipalities it contracts with so it could effectively quarantine dogs with rabies
  2. Removes rabies quarantines from the services it offers
  3. Improves its policies and procedures to the point AHS certifies it can quarantine multiple animals for four month rabies quarantine periods

Personally, I find it difficult to believe AHS could not quarantine these five dogs. If its Tinton Falls facility was unable to do this, AHS could have used its Popcorn Park shelter where it houses a number of domestic and wild animals on a long term basis. Ironically, AHS touts its “open door policy” in its fundraising stories, but it shut the door on the Aberdeen Five. According to the organization’s 2014 Form 990, AHS took in nearly $9 million in revenue and had around $10 million in net assets. In fact, AHS-Tinton Falls received $43,000 in 2016 from Aberdeen Township alone plus an $18 per day fee for each animal housed per a court order (which may not have applied to the Aberdeen Five) and $95-$125 per animal fees charged to owners reclaiming their pets. Clearly, AHS could have used some of that war chest to properly quarantine these dogs at another facility.

AHS refused to quarantine the Aberdeen Five for the mandated period despite Monmouth County’s offer to pay for boarding costs. According to the AHS-Tinton Falls’ General Manager, Veronica Eherenspeck, this offer was insufficient since AHS would incur costs for rabies vaccinations, presumably for staff, and titer checks. Honestly, I am appalled an animal control shelter would require anything above and beyond a boarding fee to house and care for these animals. Vaccinating staff for rabies and monitoring the health of shelter animals should be pre-requisites for obtaining any animal control and sheltering contact. To argue Monmouth County taxpayers should pay these costs in addition to the $43,000 annual fee Aberdeen taxpayers shelled out to AHS-Tinton Falls is absurd. The fact that Wayne Township Animal Shelter took the Aberdeen Five for a $15 per day fee, which was 17% lower than the additional fee AHS charges Aberdeen Township for holding animals per government orders, proves AHS cared more about money than the lives of these five dogs.

AHS-Tinton Falls may have cost Monmouth County taxpayers up to $11,000. If AHS-Tinton Falls performed its duty as an animal control shelter, Monmouth County would not have had to pay Wayne Township Animal Shelter $11,000 to house these five dogs. While the cost to Monmouth County taxpayers may have been less due to Monmouth County SPCA raising funds for caring for the Aberdeen Five and any possible resititution paid by Kim Rogers, Monmouth County taxpayers should not have paid a dime. Simply put, AHS-Tinton Falls’ selfish behavior pushed the bill onto Monmouth County taxpayers.

AHS Actions Prove New Jersey Must Pass Shelter Reform Bill

AHS revealed its kill first mentality. From the very beginning of this ordeal, AHS personnel from the Tinton Falls General Manager all the way up to AHS executives sought to kill these animals. Based on the tone in the emails, you can clearly see killing is a key part of the AHS culture.

When a private animal shelter fights a health department to kill dogs, the organization has a critical problem with its leadership and culture. Health departments, which focus on protecting people from animals, often are quick to kill animals posing little risk to people. Often private shelters fight health departments to keep animals alive. However, AHS did just the opposite and fought with the health department in order to kill these five dogs. Simply put, AHS is a broken organization and its killing culture needs to change.

So how can shelter reform bill S3019 affect the AHS killing culture? First, AHS Executive Director, Roseann Trezza, would need the New Jersey Department of Health to certify that she was properly trained in progressive animal sheltering practices. Second, AHS would have to notify other organizations whenever it wanted to kill an animal. Third, AHS could not kill an animal until it certified it had no empty cages, foster homes and rescues available. Fourth, AHS would have to take active steps to reunite lost pets with their families. Fifth, AHS would have to provide high levels of care to animals, including robust medical treatment, socialization, and enrichment, that would make the pets more adoptable. Sixth, each AHS shelter would receive at least three unannounced inspections per year from qualified inspectors. Thus, shelter reform bill S3019 would put significant pressure on AHS to change its ways.

Clearly, New Jersey animal lovers must pressure AHS to save lives. We can do this by passing shelter reform bill S3019. By making a simple call or writing a quick email, you can do your part. To see how, please read the instructions in this link. The sooner we act, the sooner we’ll save more lives.