Hamilton’s Horror House of an Animal Shelter

Hamilton Township Animal Shelter came under fire recently for its high kill rate and alleged violations of state law after the town poured money into its animal shelter. Despite spending over $1 million on this project and increasing its animal shelter operating budget by 56% since 2014, the shelter still killed huge numbers of animals. In 2017, the shelter’s kill rates for dogs and cats were 22% and 38%, but as many as 28% of dogs and 60% of cats may have lost their lives if animals listed in “Other” outcomes died. Furthermore, local shelter reform activist, Steve Clegg, uncovered shelter documents that suggesting the shelter illegally killed owner surrendered animals before seven days and did not have an adequate disease control program. As a result, the Hamilton Township Council announced it would investigate the animal shelter.

Recently, Hamilton Mayor Yaede and Health Officer Jeff Plunkett pushed back hard against the allegations. Mayor Yade issued a press release stating a shelter employee filed a “Notice of Claim” against several council members for allegedly creating a “Hostile work environment.” In addition, the press release cited several shelter insiders, including its veterinarian, who vouched for the shelter management. During a Hamilton Township Council meeting about the shelter, Health Officer, Jeff Plunkett, aggressively confronted critics and boldly claimed he could refute all the assertions against the shelter.

On July 16, 2018, the day before the Hamilton Township Council meeting about the shelter, the New Jersey Department of Health inspected the Hamilton Township Animal Shelter. You can read the full inspection report here. What did the New Jersey Department of Health find? Were Hamilton officials defending the shelter right or were shelter reform advocates?

Shelter Illegally Kills Animals Before Seven Days

State health department inspectors found Hamilton Township Animal Shelter killing “many animals” before seven days passed. Remarkably, the shelter killed not just owner surrendered animals, but strays as well, before seven days went by. Given the basic function of even the most regressive shelters is to allow owners to reclaim their lost pets, this is simply unforgivable.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-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 numerous 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. Animals were also being accepted for elective euthanasia and were being euthanized on intake. 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.

Animals Not Scanned for Microchips

Hamilton Township Animal Shelter failed to scan animals for microchips before animals were killed or released from the facility. Therefore, the shelter could have killed, adopted out, or transferred animals who already had families.

N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.32 Animals were said to have been scanned for a microchip on intake, but animals were not scanned again prior to release of any cat or dog for adoption, transfer to another facility or foster home, or euthanasia of the cat or dog. All impounded animals are required to be scanned for a microchip three times: upon capture by the animal control officer; upon intake to the facility; and before release or euthanasia. N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.32 Animals were said to have been scanned for a microchip on intake, but animals were not scanned again prior to release of any cat or dog for adoption, transfer to another facility or foster home, or euthanasia of the cat or dog. All impounded animals are required to be scanned for a microchip three times: upon capture by the animal control officer; upon intake to the facility; and before release or euthanasia.

Animals’ Safety Put at Risk

The shelter left a kitten in a so-called isolation room without proper ventilation. So how did the geniuses at the Hamilton Township Animal Shelter try to solve this problem? They opened a window so 90 degree outside air could flow in. In other words, the shelter left a kitten in conditions that could possibly cause heat stroke or at best make the kitten feel very uncomfortable.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.4 (c) The isolation room where one kitten was housed was not adequately ventilated to provide for the health and comfort of this animal at the time of this inspection. Inspectors were told that the window to this room was opened to assist in ventilating the room, but the outside air temperature was over 90 degrees and the auxiliary ventilation (HVAC) was insufficient to remove the hot, stale air from the room.

Hamilton Township Animal Shelter stacked wire crates used for housing dogs on top of each other and were at risk of collapsing.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.6 (a) Wire crates that were used to house dogs in the room where the ferret was located were stacked one on top of the other without proper support brackets creating a risk of collapsing. The wire crates used in this room were the type that are manufactured for temporary household use and are not structurally sound for use as permanent primary enclosures.

Despite spending over $1 million on a facility renovation, both the indoor and outdoor dog enclosures had peeling paint which dogs could ingest and be injured from. Furthermore, these surfaces could not dry quickly. So what was the stellar shelter staff’s solution to this problem? Leaving dogs outdoors for extended periods of time even when weather conditions were not safe for the animals.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.6 (a) The surfaces of the indoor and outdoor dog enclosures in the older section of the facility had peeling paint which could cause injury to the animals if swallowed. The surfaces of these enclosures were not impervious to moisture and easily dried, therefore animals were said to be left outdoors for extended periods of time in all weather conditions while waiting for these surfaces to dry.

If that was not bad enough, the shelter exposed cats to harsh chemicals (see below) when it cleaned the shelter’s cat enclosures. The cat enclosures had no doors between the feeding and litter box sections. Hamilton Township Animal Shelter’s bright staff put towels in place of these doors when they cleaned each section of the cat enclosures. Of course, the towels were unable to block the cleaning solutions that the shelter employees would inevitably spray on the cats.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.8 (a) The cat enclosures located in the new section of the facility have walls with portals between the main section of the enclosure and the feeding station and litter section. A significant aspect of these portals is to limit cross contamination that can occur when a cat is removed from the enclosure during the cleaning process and placed in an enclosure previously inhabited by another. These enclosures were missing the portal doors that separate the cat from the section being cleaned and allow them to be safely housed in the alternate section to avoid contamination from the cleaning and disinfecting chemicals during the cleaning process. The animal caretaker stated that a towel is held up over the portal when the chemicals are sprayed into the enclosure, but this is method is insufficient to safely contain and protect the animals in the enclosure during the cleaning process.

Animals Kept in Filthy Conditions

Hamilton Township Animal Shelter failed to conduct basic cleaning at the shelter. Cats were left to roam over vomited cat food on the window sill, cat furniture, scratching items and under the litter plan. In addition, the cat furniture had an accumulation of fur and litter debris. In other words, when cats rested, exercised and went to the bathroom, they had to expose themselves to old vomit and disease.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.3 (f) There were several areas of vomited cat food in the older section of the facility where the resident cats roam, including on the window sill, carpeted cat furniture, and cardboard scratchers and on the carpet under the cat litter pan. The carpeted cat furniture also contained an accumulation of fur and litter debris. This area, which was previously the main entrance and reception area needed cleaning.

The shelter did not even bother disinfecting the cats’ food and water receptacles on a daily basis. In other words, cats had to consume dirty and likely disease filled food and water.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.7 (e) and (h) Food and water receptacles were not being cleaned and disinfected daily as required. A bird cage located in the previous reception area of the old section of the building contained food, but the animal caretaker stated that the bird had been removed from the facility approximately two weeks prior to this inspection. The animal caretaker stated that the food and water receptacles for cats are washed with a detergent, rinsed, and hand dried, but these receptacles are not disinfected daily.

The shelter may very well have fed animals tainted food. Specifically, the shelter left a bag of dog food open and had a can of cat food that expired three years before in the refrigerator.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.3 (c) Opened bags of food were not stored in sealed containers to prevent contamination or infestation. A large opened bag of dry dog food was found in the room where the ferret was located. An unopened can of kitten food which had expired in 2015 was found in the refrigerator in the isolation room.

After animals left the facility, the shelter failed to clean and disinfect their cages for extended periods of time. How much disease built up and spread while these cages were left filthy?

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.8 (c) The small animal cages were not being cleaned and disinfected for a significant amount of time after an animal is removed from the facility. The bird cage in the older section of the facility had not been cleaned and disinfected since the bird was removed from the premises approximately two weeks prior to this inspection. Ten empty cat cages in the adult cat room and three empty cages in the adoption room contained wood and paper litter debris and fur and had not been cleaned and disinfected the day the animals were removed from the enclosures. The animal caretaker stated that four cats had been adopted on the previous Saturday, but inspectors were unable to determine how long the other nine cages had been empty without being cleaned and disinfected. A wire dog crate that was set on the floor and did not contain a crate tray contained an accumulation of spilled dog kibble, feces, and other debris. This crate was located against the back wall directly adjacent to other crates in this room and needed to be removed from the room to adequately clean and disinfect both the crate and the floor.

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If that was not bad enough, the shelter failed to clean and disinfect the cat enclosures they did attempt to clean:

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.8 (c) The cleaning and disinfecting products available at the facility for the cat enclosures were not being used in accordance with the manufacturer’s label instructions and in accordance with these regulations. Enclosures are required to be thoroughly cleaned with a detergent solution, rinsed to remove the dirt, debris and chemical residue from the cleaning process, followed by the application of a safe and effective disinfectant.

Shelter staff used Mr. Clean, which apparently wasn’t very “clean”, given it had “an opaque precipitate or growth floating in the liquid.” When asked, the employee couldn’t even say what this gross substance was in the bottle. Furthermore, the shelter did not even create fresh bleach cleaning solutions each day and did not use the right amount of the bleach in the solutions. In fact, the shelter lacked even a measuring device to mix bleach and water to the proper concentration. Based on the shelter worker’s recollection, the shelter used a bleach solution that was 7-10 times greater than the required concentration. Thus, the shelter likely exposed cats to harsh bleach concentrations that could have possibly irritated the animals’ skin and lungs.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.8 (c) Inspectors found a spray bottle in the cat adoption room with a Mr. Clean label that contained a clear liquid with an opaque precipitate or growth floating in the liquid. An animal caretaker told inspectors that the bottle contained bleach but was unable to determine when it was mixed or what the contamination was floating in the bottle. Bleach solutions were not made fresh daily as required and the bottles used to mix cleaning and disinfecting solutions were not marked with the contents and ratio of mixed use solution and the date the solution was prepared. There were no measuring devices available on the premises to accurately measure the disinfecting bleach and water or other chemicals as required. Inspectors were told that water and bleach was poured into containers without being measured. When an animal caretaker was asked what ratio of water to bleach was used, inspectors were told three parts water to one part bleach (1:3), which is approximately 7 to 10 times higher than the mixed use concentration specified on the manufacture’s label for disinfecting bleach, depending on the percentage of sodium hypochlorite in the product and the target organism.

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Even when the shelter put Mr. Clean down in the cat intake room, it failed to subsequently put a disinfectant down to kill pathogens. But don’t worry, the shelter had a bottle of disinfecting bleach in this area that it did not use!

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.8 (c) The animal caretaker stated that the cat enclosures in the intake room were sprayed down with Mr. Clean, allowed to set approximately 5 minutes to loosen the debris and wiped down before clean bedding and litter was placed into the enclosures. This cleaning step was not being followed with the application of a disinfecting solution followed by the required set time, which is usually 10 minutes depending on the product used and mixed-use ratio, to allow for adequate disinfection of the precleaned surfaces. A bottle of disinfecting bleach was found in the cat intake room, but the animal caretaker stated that it was not being used on the day of this inspection.

Building Fails to Comply with State Law Despite $1.1 Million Renovation

The shelter’s “new” section had floors with a material or coating that was not impervious to moisture. Furthermore, older sections of the facility had broken floor tiles that made the surfaces not impervious to moisture. Similarly, the indoor and outdoor dog enclosures had peeling paint making those surfaces not impervious to moisture. Thus, the shelter couldn’t clean and disinfect these areas properly even if it had correct cleaning procedures.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.4 (f) The inspectors were told that the floors of the new section of the facility were unable to be disinfected because of the material or coating on these floors. The floors were not constructed so that they may be readily cleaned and disinfected as required. The floors of the older section of the facility contained broken floor tiles in some areas and therefore, were not impervious to moisture and able to be readily cleaned and disinfected. Carpeted cat furniture used for the resident cats at the facility cannot be sufficiently cleaned and disinfected. The indoor dog enclosures in the older section of the facility had peeling paint and these surfaces were no longer impervious to moisture and able to be readily cleaned.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.5 (e) Surfaces of the outdoor enclosures in the older section of the facility had peeling paint and were not maintained so that they were impervious to moisture and were unable to be readily cleaned and disinfected.

Once animals inevitably got sick in this cesspool of disease, the shelter could not even properly isolate sick animals from healthy ones in the facility. Specifically, even after spending $1.1 million on a shelter renovation project, the facility lacked functioning and legally required isolation areas. Thus, sick animals likely spread their diseases to healthy animals.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.9 (g) The facility does not have an isolation room to house dogs with signs of communicable disease.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.9 (h) Inspectors were told that the isolation room for cats does not have an exhaust system which creates air movement from the isolation room to an area outside the premises of the facility. The HVAC system is not separated and the exhaust air from the isolation room is permitted to enter or mix with fresh air for use by the general animal population.

Shelter Fails to Provide Proper Veterinary Care

Hamilton Township Animal Shelter failed to have its supervising veterinarian establish a written and adequate disease control program. In fact, the shelter could not provide any evidence that this veterinarian had visited the facility let alone provided any care. In other words, the very veterinarian who defended the shelter in Mayor Yaede’s press release, failed miserably at his job servicing the shelter’s animals.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-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. Inspectors were told that animals are taken to three area veterinary hospitals when care is needed, and the supervising veterinarian visits the facility periodically, but there was no evidence or documentation indicating when the veterinarian had visited the facility and what care, if any, had been provided to animals at the facility. There were no veterinary medical records, veterinary treatment orders, medication administration logs or other documents available on the premises for animals that had received veterinary care from area veterinary hospitals. The veterinary hospital documents were said to be released to the adopter when the animal left the facility. Veterinary treatment documents were not kept on file for animals that had been euthanized at the facility.

The shelter’s 2018 disease control program form that must be signed by the supervising veterinarian was effectively a fake document. Specifically, the 2018 form was a photographed copy of the 2017 form with the veterinarian’s name and license number changed. The signature on this form did not match the veterinarian’s signature on the policy and procedure document stating the shelter takes sick animals to the veterinarian. Finally, the shelter’s license number listed on the 2018 form was the 2017 license number even though a 2018 shelter license number was never issued. If shelter management pulls these shenanigans with publicly accessible paperwork, can we really trust them to treat animals properly behind closed doors?

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.9 (b) The facility did not have a VPH-20 form signed by the supervising veterinarian for the current year indicating that a disease control and health care program is in effect at the facility. The VPH-20 form posted at the facility and dated 1/2/18 was a photocopy of the signed form dated 1/3/2017 with the date and the veterinarian’s name and veterinarian’s license number changed. The photocopied signature on the VPH-20 form did not match the signature on a policy and procedure document that stated animals with signs of illness or wounds of unknown origin are taken to a veterinarian. The veterinarian’s name was changed on both documents. Although the facility was not issued a license number when a license was issued for 2018, the photocopied VPH-20 document shows the facility license number as 090, which was the photocopied information from a previous year.

Hamilton Township Animal Shelter killed many animals citing medical conditions without having any records to indicate the facility provided any veterinary care.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.9 (a) Numerous animals were recorded in the disposition logs and/or the euthanasia logs as “sick,” “very sick,” “URI,” “emaciated,” etc., but no veterinary medical records were available to indicate that these animals had received treatment before being euthanized or transferred. Examples included, but were not limited to: C538, euthanized 12/30/16, “very sick, URI since 11/28/16”; C533, C534, C535, and C536, euthanized 12/6/16, “very sick, trapped”; C546, transferred 1/12/17, “URI”; C547, died at shelter 12/9/16, “very old”; C545, euthanized 12/5/17, “very sickly”; C417, C418, C420, C421, C422, euthanized 9/22/17, “URI emaciated” (#419 died at shelter); C3, euthanized 1/18/18, “flat ear, very sickly”; C10, euthanized 1/21/18, “very sickly”; and 46 cats from a hoarding house were documented as euthanized on the same day of intake due to “medical issues.”

The shelter also had numerous expired medicines with no records indicating whether the shelter gave these drugs to animals. If the shelter did in fact give expired medicines to animals, they put the animals health at risk.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.9 (a) There were numerous bottles of expired medications that had been prescribed by various animal hospitals to animals that had been housed at the facility, but there were no medication administration logs or other treatment records available to indicate why these medications had not been administered as prescribed on the prescription labels. Examples of medications included, but were not limited to: buprenorphine, expired in 2015; cephalexin, expired in 2013, and another dispensed in 2015, expired; clindamycin, dispensed in 2015, expired in 2017; Rimadyl, expired in 2017; two full bottles of expired amoxicillin-clavulanate, one prescribed to Haley and one to Connie; clindamycin prescribed to Onyx on 4/30/17, not administered; 3 boxes of Meloxidyl for cats, dispensed 8/15/15, expired in 2017; Deramaxx, expired 5/17; and a full bottle of Rimadyl prescribed to Sparky 5/2016, expired 2017.

A dog that was currently at the facility at the time of this inspection was prescribed cephalexin on 10/13/15 (20 caps) which had since expired. This bottle was full but there was no documentation available to indicate why this medication had not been administered as prescribed.

Dog number 116, described as a Rottweiler mix, was dispensed enrofloxacin on 12/13/17, but this bottle of 30 tablets was full and had not been administered as prescribed. This same dog was also prescribed 14 caplets of Novox on the same date, 12 of which remained in the bottle and were not administered as prescribed.

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Inhumane Killing Methods

Hamilton Township Animal Shelter primarily used intracardiac injections, otherwise known as heart sticking, as the “primary method” to kill animals instead of the recommended intravenous method. As the name implies, heart sticking involves stabbing an animal in the heart and injecting poison. Under state law, heart sticking can only be used when an animal is heavily sedated or comatose with a depressed vascular function. Why? The killing method is so brutal that an animal must be completely unconscious and “have no blink or toe-pinch reflexes” according to the Humane Society of the United Stated Euthanasia Reference Manual.

If that was not bad enough, the shelter used the wrong euthanasia drug to kill cats. Specifically, the euthanasia drug Hamilton Township Animal Shelter used is only approved for dogs. Given the drug the shelter uses, sodium pentobarbital combined with phenytoin sodium, can lead to cardiac arrest before the animal goes unconscious in certain circumstances, this is deeply concerning.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.11 (c) The method of injection that was being used for euthanasia of cats at the facility was not acceptable as the primary method of injection of the euthanasia solution. The primary method of euthanasia for cats was said to be an intracardiac injection of a euthanasia solution. The recommended method is an intravenous injection of a barbiturate. Intracardiac and intraperitoneal injection may be made where intravenous injection is impractical, as in the very small animal, or in the comatose animal with depressed vascular function. The product being used at the facility contains pentobarbital sodium and phenytoin sodium and is licensed for use in dogs only. The package literature for this product states that it is approved only for IV and IC injections in dogs (not to be used in other body cavities due to the addition of phenytoin sodium in the product).

More disturbing, the shelter did not even weigh animals before killing them. Instead, the shelter used weights from the time the animal came into the shelter to determine the dose of tranquilizing agents and poison used to kill animals. Since the facility had no working scale, one must question if the shelter actually weighed the animals when they arrived. Even if staff weighed animals upon intake, an animal may lose or gain weight once at the shelter. Therefore, there is a good chance the animals were given the wrong drug dosages.

If animals were given too low a dose of euthanasia drugs, the shelter may have disposed of animals, such as in a landfill or in a crematorium, while they were still alive. In other words, animals could have been buried and burnt alive. Similarly, if animals were not given enough sedatives, the animals may have experienced significant pain when killed. This is especially the case since the shelter used the barbaric heart stick method to kill pets.

The shelter’s own records did indicate some animals were given too little euthanasia drugs. Furthermore, the shelter’s euthanasia logs contained numerous errors and raise questions as to whether the shelter killed even more animals inhumanely.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.11 (f) Written instructions were not posted in the euthanasia area and there were no instructions available 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. A scale was unavailable at the facility to weigh dogs and the scale for small animals was inoperable at the time of the inspection. The weight recorded on an animal’s record at the time of intake was being used to calculate the dosages of these agents, but the weight on intake may not be the same weight of the animal at the time it is euthanized. It was unclear how the weight of each animal was obtained on intake when the facility did not have any working scales to weigh animals.

The weight of animals recorded in the euthanasia logs compared to disposition logs did not match, which indicated that the dosage by weight for several animals may have been miscalculated. Some examples of errors included but were not limited to the following: Dog number 16, released to the facility by its owner on 1/30/17 was recorded in the disposition log with a weight of 120 lb., but the euthanasia log shows the weight of the dog as 80 lb. This dog was administered 10 mL of euthanasia solution rather than the minimum 12 mL required for a 120 lb. dog. Dog number 17, released by its owner on 1/30/17 was record in the disposition log with a weight of 65 lb. This dog was listed as 80 lb. on the euthanasia log on 1/31/17 with a dosage of 10 mL recorded on the euthanasia log and 9 mL recorded in the disposition log, both of which are suitable for either of these recorded weights depending on the route of injection. Dog number 31 which was released to the facility by its owner on 2/22/17 and euthanized the same day was recorded in both the disposition log and the euthanasia log with a weight of 12 lb., but both records indicate that this dog was only administered 1 mL of euthanasia solution, which is suitable for a 10 lb. dog depending on the route of injection. Dog number 19, recorded in the disposition log with a weight of 80 lb. was euthanized on 2/11/17, but was not recorded on the euthanasia log. The disposition records indicate that this dog was administered 4 mL of  euthanasia solution, but the tranquilizing agent is recorded as “8”, so it is possible these numbers were written in the wrong column and the dog may have been given 8 mL of euthanasia solution which is suitable for an 80 lb. dog depending on the route of injection. Dog number 239, recorded as a 75 lb. Labrador in the disposition records but recorded as 30 lb. in the euthanasia log on 9/4/17, appears that it should be dog number 240. Dog number 198 recorded in the euthanasia log on 10/24/17, appears that it should be dog number 298, but dog number 198, euthanized on 8/1/17 according to the disposition log, is missing from the euthanasia log.

State health department inspectors noted the shelter likely guessed the weights of wildlife when it used euthanasia drugs to kill these animals. Even worse, the inspectors mentioned the weights of several animals were probably not accurate indicating the shelter may have inhumanely killed these animals as well.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.11 (f) The weights recorded in the euthanasia records for various species of wildlife appear to be rough estimates due to the descriptions provided. The estimated weights and the calculated dosages recorded for some wildlife species, such as the injured rabbit on 4/21/17 and the injured squirrel on 4/22/17 do not appear to be accurate and the dosages of euthanasia solution administered may be insufficient. The supervising veterinarian should include the dosages by weight for various wildlife species when developing the instruction sheets for animal euthanasia.

If this was not bad enough, the shelter appeared to incorrectly use sedatives to comfort animals while they were killed with a stab to the heart. The shelter had no dosage instructions or logs of the tranquilizers it used. In other words, the shelter could not prove it knew how to provide sedatives to animals and if it even did. Furthermore, the tranquilizing agents mixed with sterile water at the facility were not refrigerated giving them a useful life of just seven days. The shelter did not put dates on these sedative solutions and it seems likely the shelter could have used such solutions after their seven day shelf life. Thus, the shelter may have provided animals ineffective sedatives if the facility actually used tranquilizing agents at all.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.11 (f) There were no prescription labels, instructions for use, dosage calculation sheets, or substance usage logs for the anesthetic agent used at the facility. There were several bottles of this agent found on the premises, and the inspectors were told that these bottles were ordered by the local health department through the supervising veterinarian, but no records were available to indicate that this product was being used by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. The manufacturer’s package insert for this product indicates that this product is to be reconstituted with 5 mL sterile water, but there were no bottles of sterile water found with this anesthetic agent. The package insert states to discard unused solution after 7 days when stored at room temperature or after 56 days when kept refrigerated. The reconstituted product was not stored under refrigeration and there was no date marked on the bottle or records available to indicate when the bottle had been reconstituted.

Shelter Employees Not Trained to Perform Humane Euthanasia

Several employees “euthanizing” animals at the shelter did not have legally required certifications by a licensed veterinarian. Given the horrific killing practices noted above, is it a surprise the staff did not receive the mandated training?

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.11 (e) Two employees administering animal euthanasia at the facility were not certified by a licensed veterinarian in the acceptable euthanasia techniques used at the facility. Inspectors were told that these two employees had taken a 16-hour “Euthanasia by Injection” course which was based on the Humane Society of the United States’ Euthanasia Reference Manual and was offered by a humane organization in Pennsylvania on February 26 and 27, 2015, but this course is not approved to replace the direct supervision, training and certification by a licensed veterinarian in the State of New Jersey. The trainer listed on the course document was not a licensed veterinarian and inspectors were told that no hands-on training was provided.

Another employee who was certified by a licensed veterinarian to perform euthanasia, was not sufficiently trained in the acceptable techniques; specifically, IV injection as the primary method of euthanasia for cats. Additional training and certification in administration of IP injection will also be required if this technique will be used at the facility.

Shelter Drug Records Raise Concerns About Where Controlled Substances Went

Inspectors found the shelter failed to include 67 milliliters of euthanasia drugs in the usage logs provided to the state’s Drug Control Unit. Furthermore, the shelter did not even keep usage records for sedatives it used. Given these are controlled substances, major questions arise as to whether the unaccounted for drugs are due to incompetent shelter management or people using these substances for nefarious and illegal purposes.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.11 (f) Many animals that had been euthanized at the facility were not recorded on the euthanasia substance usage logs as required under the authority of the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, Division of Consumer Affairs, Drug Control Unit. Records indicated that at least twenty animals were recorded in the disposition logs as euthanized during the year 2017, but these animals were not recorded on the pentobarbital sodium usage log forms, resulting in approximately 67 mL of euthanasia solution unaccounted for. Approximately 200 records on the euthanasia log forms and over 150 records on the disposition record logs were missing the name or initials of the certified personnel who had administered euthanasia and tranquilizing or anesthetizing agents to these animals.

There were no prescription labels, instructions for use, dosage calculation sheets, or substance usage logs for the anesthetic agent used at the facility.

Shelter May Have Killed More Animals Inhumanely

Hamilton Township Animal Shelter failed to keep proper intake and disposition records. Shelters are required by law to keep specific details on each individual animal, such when it came in and left and its outcome. Inspectors noted many animals had different information in their intake and disposition records and the euthanasia logs. Therefore, its quite possible Hamilton Township Animal Shelter’s reported statistics are wrong.

Furthermore, the shelter did not document how it killed animals as required by state law.

N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.13 (a) The method of euthanasia, such as IV, IC, or IP, was not recorded in each animal’s record as required or on any other document maintained at the facility. There were numerous errors found in the intake and disposition log records and the euthanasia log records including but not limited to the following examples: Two cats were given the same ID number 110, one on 5/3/17 and another on 5/4/17; dog number 310 was recorded as euthanized on 11/25/17, but was also recorded as reclaimed on 11/14/17; cat number 502 (2016) was recorded as adopted on 3/15/17, but was also recorded as euthanized on 9/1/17 with a notation “URI 8 months”; cat number 372 was recorded as euthanized on 8/24/17, but was also recorded as adopted on 10/4/17; cat number 111 was recorded as euthanized on 5/9/17, and was recorded as euthanized again on 8/24/17; there was no ID number for a cat euthanized on 2/23/17; cat number 579 that was euthanized on 1/7/18 was not recorded in the disposition log and cat number 581 that was euthanized on 1/7/18 was not recorded on the euthanasia log. These types of errors can result in discrepancies in the amount of euthanasia solution used and recorded on the New Jersey Drug Control Unit’s Sodium Pentobarbital Usage Log Forms.

Employees responsible for filling out intake records need to take care to accurately describe the animal and its distinguishing marks. If the breed of dog cannot be easily determined, the animal may be described by hair length, coat type, weight and build. It was recommended to obtain a breed chart for dogs to assist in selecting the closest breed, but to avoid significant errors, such as describing a Havanese type mixed breed as a chihuahua, the breed of dog may be recorded as mixed with an accurate description of its characteristics.

Mayor Yaede’s Monumentally Poor Response

Hamilton’s mayor responded hours after the inspection report’s release declaring “State inspection report does not list one finding of animal abuse or animal cruelty” and “the majority of the report cited clerical errors and other items that have already been corrected.” First, the New Jersey Department of Health does not bring animal cruelty charges. However, the report did in fact document numerous potential examples of animal cruelty. It is up to law enforcement authorities to bring charges. Specifically, law enforcement authorities could bring charges for killing animals before seven days, not providing veterinary care, leaving animals in dangerous conditions and killing animals inhumanely. In addition, law enforcement officials should bring individual charges for every single animal that endured these atrocities. As this blog details, these are far more than a few “clerical errors.” Finally, based on past experience, I find it next to impossible to believe this shelter fixed all of the extensive problems, particularly those involving the actual structure of the facility.

Mayor Yaede also falsely claimed the state health department’s “recommended method of euthanasia”…”appears not to be a State requirement.” In fact, N.J.AC. 8.23A-1.11 (c) (1) states IV injections are the preferred method and heart sticking is only allowed on a heavily sedated or comatose animal with depressed vascular function. Furthermore, the shelter failed to weigh animals, at least properly, per the inspection report, which also is required by state law to ensure humane euthanasia.

The good mayor also claimed the fact the shelter remained open proved all was fine. The state health department almost never shuts a shelter down. Even after the most egregious state inspection reports, the New Jersey Department of Health has never in recent years shut a shelter down after an initial inspection. Simply put, the state health department does not do so since it fears the repercussions of where the displaced animals will go. In other words, saying your shelter isn’t so bad because it wasn’t immediately shut down is about as a low standard once can try to achieve.

Mayor Yaede then tried to claim all the killed animals at the shelter were mercy killings where owners requested euthanasia. As the state report found, stray animals were also illegally killed before seven days passed. Therefore, those animals were not owner requested euthanasia. Additionally, 46 cats were immediately killed illegally on a single day last year and the records indicated most were treatable (i.e. URI, ringworm, etc.). Furthermore,  true owner-requested euthanasia, where a shelter humanely ends the life of a hopelessly suffering animal, makes up a very small percentage of an animal control shelter’s total animal intake. For example, owner requested euthanasia only made up 0.7% of the total dogs and cats Kansas City Missouri’s animal control shelter took in during 2017. While Hamilton Township Animal Shelter or any other facility can claim many of the animals it killed were “owner requested”, that does not mean the animals were hopelessly suffering.

What was the other mayor’s other excuse? The state health department inspected on a “Monday morning during the very same time when routine cleaning operations would normally occur following the weekend.” As regular readers know, this is a typical and nonsensical excuse used by regressive shelters. Good shelters don’t allow their animals to live in filth period. Even more troubling, Mayor Yaede’s statement suggests the shelter is NOT cleaned during the weekend. If that is the case, the shelter has even bigger problems than we thought.

Mayor Yaede then goes on to claim Hamilton Township’s Council members are mean to call the shelter staff “killers.” After reading this report and the shelter’s 2017 Shelter/Pound Annual Report, we know the shelter leadership are “killers” since they illegally and quickly killed animals despite the facility having empty cages. Simply put, shelter management would rather kill animals than do the work caring for them.

Finally, Mayor Yaede stated she “worked tirelessly to help promote the adoption of our shelter animals” and is a “forceful advocate for our animal shelter and our shelter’s pets.” If she was “working so tirelessly” and such a “forceful advocate for our animal shelter and our shelter’s pets”, she wouldn’t have circumvented the town’s ban on pet store puppy sales by buying a puppy from a nearby community’s pet store. The mayor should call herself a puppy mill princess instead.

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

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

However, after seeing Mayor Yaede’s and her Health Officer’s reactions to this inspection report, I believe the town would be better off with EASEL Animal Rescue League operating the shelter. Given EASEL Animal Rescue League receives less than half the taxpayer funding per impounded animal than Hamilton Township Animal Shelter and achieves very high live release rates, both Hamilton’s animals and taxpayers would benefit from this organization running the Hamilton Township Animal Shelter.

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Elizabeth Animal Shelter Breaks the Law and Kills Healthy and Treatable Animals in 2017

My last blog detailed Elizabeth Animal Shelter killing more animals in 2017. Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s dog death rate nearly doubled and its cat death rate increased by nearly 50% in 2017 compared to 2016. Furthermore, the shelter hardly adopted out any animals themselves, but instead relied almost entirely on rescues.

What reasons did Elizabeth Animal Shelter use to kill animals in 2017? Were they justified? Did the shelter continue to violate state law as the shelter did in 2016?

Shelter Kills Large Numbers of Dogs for Aggression

Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed too many dogs for aggression/behavior. As the table below shows, the shelter killed 9% of all dogs for aggression/behavior. On the other hand, Austin Animal Center only euthanized 0.2% of all the dogs it took in for aggression/behavior during 2017. Thus, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed dogs for aggression/behavior at 45 times the rate as Austin Animal Center.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter also killed too many dogs for treatable medical reasons. During 2017, the shelter killed 3% of all dogs medical related reasons. As a comparison, Austin Animal Center only euthanized around 0.8% of all dogs in 2017 for medical reasons. Thus, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed dogs for medical reasons at four times the rate as Austin Animal Center.

2017 Elizabeth Animal Shelter Dogs Killed.jpg

The shelter killed even more pit bulls for aggression/behavior. During 2017, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed 25% of the pit bull like dogs it took in for aggression/behavior. As a comparison, Austin Animal Center only euthanized 0.3% of the pit bulls it took in during 2017 for aggression/behavior. To put it another way, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed pit bull like dogs for aggression/behavior at 83 times the rate as Austin Animal Center.

As with all dogs, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed too many pit bulls for medical reasons. Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed 5% of all pit bulls for medical reasons in 2017. However, Austin Animal Center only euthanized 0.6% of all pit bulls in 2017 for medical reasons. As a result, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed pit bulls for medical reasons at eight times the rate as Austin Animal Center.

2017 Elizabeth Animal Shelter Pit Bulls Killed.jpg

Elizabeth Animal Shelter also killed more dogs for aggression/behavior in 2017 as compared to 2016. The shelter killed 9% and 6% of all dogs for aggression/behavior in 2017 and 2016. Similarly, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed 25% and 18% of pit bull like dogs for aggression/behavior in 2017 and 2016. Thus, Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s dog and pit bull kill rates for aggression/behavior increased by nearly 50% in 2017.

Dog ID# 15-D was a 5 year old pit bull surrendered to the Elizabeth Animal Shelter on April 20, 2017. According to the owner, the dog had no aggression/behavior problems or medical issues. While the owner mentioned the dog was not compatible with other dogs and cats, the owner stated the dog was good with kids and adults and was house trained. Despite this dog obviously not having aggression issues with people, the shelter’s veterinarian labeled the dog “not friendly” and killed him after just two weeks at the shelter.

15-D Surrender Form.jpg

15-D Dog Killed at Ellizabeth Animal Shelter

15-D Euthanasia Record

Harley (Dog ID# 24-F) was a ten year old pit bull like dog surrendered to the Elizabeth Animal Shelter on June 29, 2017. While Harley’s owner mentioned the dog was not compatible with other dogs and cats, the owner stated the dog was good with kids and adults and was house trained. Even though Harley’s owner clearly indicated the dog was good with both kids and adults, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed Harley seven days later for “human aggression.”

Dog 24-F Elizabeth Surrender Form.jpg

Dog 24-F Elizabeth Euthanasia Record.jpg

Hawk (Dog ID# 19-H) was a two and half year old pit bull like dog surrendered to the Elizabeth Animal Shelter on August 24, 2017. According to Hawk’s owner, Hawk had no aggression/behavior problems and was not sick or injured. In addition, Hawk’s owner stated the dog was good with other dogs, kids and adults and was house trained. Despite these facts, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed Hawk two weeks later for alleged human and animal aggression. Furthermore, the records did not indicate the shelter made any rehabilitation efforts to fix these so-called behavior issues.

Dog 19-H Elizabeth Surrender Form.jpg

Dog 19-H Elizabeth Euthanasia Record

Rocky was a one year old pit bull like dog surrendered to the Elizabeth Animal Shelter on March 13, 2017. According to Rocky’s owner, the dog was not sick or injured and had no aggression/behavior issues. After seven days, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed Rocky and cited parvo and bloody diarrhea as the reasons. Furthermore, the veterinarian’s invoice suggests Elizabeth Animal Shelter did not treat Rocky other than possibly giving him a parvo vaccine on the day they killed him (the vaccine could have been administered to another dog).

Elizabeth Animal Shelter failed Rocky in every way. Assuming the dog was not sick when he arrived at the shelter, the shelter would have been able to treat Rocky as soon as he displayed symptoms. If the dog was displaying parvo symptoms when he arrived at the shelter, Elizabeth Animal Shelter would have broken state law by not providing prompt medical care since Rocky did not see a veterinarian until seven days later. Instead, Elizabeth Animal Shelter should have treated Rocky with fluid therapy, anti-nausea medications and antibiotics and given him several fecal and blood tests. Most importantly, parvo virus is highly treatable and shelters, such as Austin Pets Alive, are saving around 90% of puppies who contract parvo. Adult dogs, such as Rocky, would certainly have an even higher chance of surviving this disease if the shelter properly treated this dog. Thus, Elizabeth Animal Shelter either waited too long to treat Rocky or simply found it easier and cheaper to kill him.

Dog ID 11-C Elizabeth Surrender Form.jpg

Dog ID 11-C Euthanasia Record.jpg

Dog 11-C Vet Invoice.jpg

Shelter Kills Too Many Cats for Aggression and Questionable Medical Reasons

Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed large numbers of cats for aggression and other behavioral reasons. Overall, the shelter killed 9% of all cats citing aggression/behavior and feral as the reasons. Frankly, shelters should never kill cats for behavior and large animal control facilities, such as Austin Animal Center, prove it is possible.

The shelter also killed too many cats for medical reasons. Overall, the shelter killed 11% of all cats due to various medical reasons. As a comparison, Austin Animal Center only euthanized 4% of their cats for medical reasons even though rescues took a much smaller percentage of cats. Given rescues take so many cats at Elizabeth Animal Shelter, it is highly likely a number of additional ill/injured cats died or were euthanized shortly after rescues took the animals.

2017 Elizabeth Animal Shelter Cats Killed Reasons

Ke Ke was a one year old cat surrendered to the Elizabeth Animal Shelter on April 13, 2017. Ke Ke’s owner stated he had no behavior or aggression issues, no health problems, was good with cats, adults and kids and was house trained. Despite Ke Ke being obviously adoptable, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed him 16 days later stating the “cat is very aggressive and feral.” Clearly, this cat was scared in a shelter environment and Elizabeth Animal Shelter used that as a basis to kill him.

7-D Cat Elizabeth Animal Shelter Surrender Form.jpg

7-D Cat Elizabeth Animal Shelter Euthanasia Record.jpg

Tiger was a six month old cat surrendered to the Elizabeth Animal Shelter on October 5, 2017. The owner stated Tiger had no behavior or aggression problems, no health issues, and was good with cats and kids. Despite the owner stating the cat was not aggressive, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed her just seven days later for having a “Severe Behavior Issue.”

4-J Cat Elizabeth Animal Shelter Surrender Form.jpg

Cat 4-J Elizabeth Animal Shelter Euthanasia Record.jpg

Kitty was a four year old cat surrendered to the Elizabeth Animal Shelter on November 11, 2017. The owner stated Kitty was good with dogs, kids and adults and was house trained. While the owner stated the cat had no illnesses or injuries, they did note the cat had urine issues. After just five days, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed Kitty for having “bloody urine.” While bloody urine can be caused by a serious disease, such as cancer, the shelter did not document the cat was hopelessly suffering. Furthermore, cats with blood in the urine, which is also known as hematuria, can be treated. Thus, Elizabeth Animal Shelter may have illegally killed Kitty during the seven day protection period and made little effort to save her life.

7-K Elizabeth Animal Shelter Surrender Form

7-K Elizabeth Animal Shelter Euthanasia Record

Chester was a three month old kitten surrendered along with his sister, Diamond, to the Elizabeth Animal Shelter on November 30, 2017. According to the owner, the two kittens were good with dogs, cats, kids and adults and were not sick or injured. In addition, the owner requested the shelter keep the animals together. After 20 days, Elizabeth Animal Shelter killed Chester for having bloody diarrhea. No records provided to me indicated any effort to treat this kitten.

18-K Elizabeth Animal Shelter Surrender Form

18-K Elizabeth Animal Shelter Euthanasia Record

18-K Elizabeth Animal Shelter Veterinary Invoice

Shelter Becomes Less Transparent

As I reported last year and in 2016, Elizabeth Animal Shelter’s legally required euthanasia records did not comply with state law. Specifically, the records did not identify the euthanasia drug the shelter used (the records stated “Euth.” which could mean Euthasol or just an unnamed euthanasia drug) and the method of euthanasia. Furthermore, the euthanasia records in 2016 and 2015 indicated euthanasia was not conducted humanely based on the shelter using pure ketamine in excessive doses as a tranquilizing agent. Finally, many of the legally required weights listed in the euthanasia records were convenient numbers, such as those ending in a zero or five, and possibly suggested the shelter did not weigh animals before administering tranquilizers and euthanasia drugs.

Elizabeth’s Health Officer told me the shelter moved its euthanasia activities to its veterinarian’s office in 2017 and did not have euthanasia records. Furthermore, I found many killed animals, particularly cats, were only included in the veterinarian invoices and not the shelter’s records. While the shelter can have animals killed/euthanized at an outside veterinarian’s office, the shelter must maintain all of the euthanasia records as well as intake and disposition records at the shelter as the New Jersey Health Department of Health’s July 23, 2014 inspection report on Linden Animal Control stated. Thus, Elizabeth Animal Shelter violated N.J.A.C. 8.23A 1.11 (f) (4) and 1.13 (a) and (b).

Elizabeth Animal Shelter may have illegally killed cats before seven days passed. While the shelter stopped routinely illegally killing owner surrendered animals in 2016, the shelter’s veterinarian killed many cats at his office that the shelter did not include in its intake and disposition records. If the shelter’s veterinarian did not hold these animals for seven days, and the animals were not hopelessly suffering, the shelter would have violated the state’s stray/hold period found in N.J.S.A. 4:19-15.16. Overall, I found the shelter failed to include nearly 40 cats in its intake and disposition records that were killed at the shelter veterinarian’s office. Almost all the cats the veterinarian listed as ill or injured did not have sufficient documentation in the records provided to me to prove these cats were hopelessly suffering. Furthermore, the veterinarian killed a number of cats for aggression or being feral. Thus, Elizabeth Animal Shelter may have illegally killed large numbers of cats before seven days passed.

Shelter Has No Disease Control Program, No Recent Inspection Reports 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 was under review by the Elizabeth Dog Control Committee last year, the city did not provide me a disease control program this year despite repeated requests under New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act. Under state law, a shelter must have a disease control program in order to operate. In 2016, 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.

Furthermore, the City of Elizabeth failed to provide me any legally required health department inspection reports that were conducted in 2017 and 2018. Under state law, a shelter must be inspected each year, by June 30 of that year, and show compliance with shelter statutes to receive a license to operate in that year. As a result, Elizabeth Animal Shelter was illegally operating an animal shelter since it should not have had a license to operate the facility after July 1, 2017.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter also failed to document the breed on many cats it took in as required by N.J.A.C. 8.23A-1.13 (a). The shelter should start doing so especially since it does not require much effort.

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

Elizabeth Animal Shelter transferred and adopted out 38 dogs and cats during the seven day stray hold period in 2017 (almost all went to rescues). 31 of the 38 animals were cats which often have very low owner reclaim rates. Of the 31 cats, 21 were kittens which are highly susceptible to catching deadly illnesses in animal shelters. However, only two of the seven dogs and 10 of the 31 cats were released for medical reasons. Thus, Elizabeth Animal Shelter appeared to release most of these animals during the seven day hold period for reasons other than medical treatment.

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 pets. While animals are 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, individuals or groups fostering these animals must return pets back to the owners 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.

Elizabeth Animal Shelter Must Make Bold Moves to Improve

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 and comply with the stray/hold law. Simply put, Elizabeth Animal Shelter must follow the law.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth Animal Shelter continues to act as if its above the law. Despite my blogs over the last couple of years alerting the shelter to its violations of state law, it continues to break state law. Ultimately, the New Jersey Department of Health must inspect this shelter to force it to take these blatant violations of state law seriously.

Elizabeth animal advocates must step up and resume the activism they conducted in 2014. At that time, the promised volunteer/contractor was the major change the city made to placate animal advocates. As the data from my last blog and this blog show, this person, at least in her current part time role, is not enough to end the killing of healthy and treatable animals in Elizabeth. Instead, the city must create a No Kill Implementation plan similar to the one in Austin, Texas that mandates the shelter fully put the No Kill Equation into place and achieve a minimum 90% live release rate. Furthermore, the City of Elizabeth can hire a no kill consultant, such as No Kill Learning, to help the shelter put this plan into place. If the City of Elizabeth makes these changes, Elizabeth Animal Shelter will finally become a facility that saves rather than takes lives.

Gloucester County’s Grotesque Pet Killing Factory

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

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

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

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

Statistics Reveal a High Kill Shelter

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

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

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

GCAS 2016 Dog and Cat Statistics.jpg

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

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

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

GCAS 2016 Dog Statistics

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

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

2016 GCAS Length of Stay.jpg

2016 GCAS Dog Breeds LOS.jpg

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

Gloucester County Animal Shelter’s Absurd Reason for Killing Cats

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

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

GCAS Cats Killed 2016

Austin Animal Center 2016 Cats Euthanized Reasons

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

GCAS Killed Cats LOS

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

GCAS Cat 23994 Intake and Disposition Record

GCAS 239994 Medical Record

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

GCAS 238919 Part 1

GCAS 238919 (2).jpg

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

GCAS 243787.jpg

GCAS 243787 pt 2

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

GCAS 239853

GCAS 239853 Pt 2

GCAS 239853 Pt 2 (2)

GCAS 239853 Pt 2 (3).jpg

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

GCAS 243349

GCAS 243349 pt 2 (2)

GCAS 243349 pt 2 (3).jpg

Gloucester County Animal Shelter’s Poor Reasons for Killing Dogs

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

GCAS Dogs Killed Reasons

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

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

GCAS Pit Bulls Killed Reasons.jpg

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

GCAS Small Dogs Killed

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

GCAS Other Dogs Killed Reasons.jpg

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

GCAS Dogs Killed LOS

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

GCAS Small Dogs Killed LOS.jpg

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

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

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

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

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GCAS 241545 Dog Profile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gloucester County Must Clean House at its Animal Shelter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.