New Jersey’s Highest Kill Shelters in 2017

Last month, I wrote a blog discussing decreased killing at New Jersey animal shelters in 2017. This blog will explore the 2017 statistics in more detail and assess the current status of the state’s animal shelters.

Most New Jersey animal shelters voluntarily report detailed data to state authorities. Last month, I shared the 2017 summary statistics for New Jersey animal shelters on my Facebook page. Each year, the New Jersey Department of Health requests each licensed animal shelter in the state to submit animal shelter data for the previous year. Animal shelters voluntarily submit this data in the “Shelter/Pound Annual Report.” The New Jersey Department of Health takes these Shelter/Pound Annual Reports and compiles the number of dogs, cats and other animals impounded, redeemed, adopted and euthanized to prepare its Animal Intake and Disposition report. However, the Shelter/Pound Annual Reports include additional information on how animals were impounded (i.e. strays, owner surrenders, rescued from in-state facilities, rescued from out of state shelters, and cruelty/bite cases/other) and disposed of (i.e. returned to owner, adopted, sent to rescue/another shelter, and died/missing/other outcome). Additionally, the Shelter/Pound Annual Reports include the number of animals in shelters at the beginning and end of the year as well as the maximum number of animals facilities can hold. Thus, the Shelter/Pound Annual Reports include very important data not found in the New Jersey Department of Health’s summary report.

I compiled the data from these reports and analyze the results in this blog. 2017 statistics for each New Jersey animal shelter are listed at this link. You can also view each “Shelter/Pound Annual Report” at this link.

Garbage Data Raises Serious Questions About New Jersey Animal Shelters’ Statistics

Most New Jersey animal shelters do not properly account for their animals. Simple math dictates the number of animals at a facility at the beginning of the year, plus all animals coming in during the year, less all animals leaving for the period, should equal the number of animals a shelter has at the end of the year. Stunningly, 59 out of 93 shelters reporting these dog statistics and 60 out of 91 facilities submitting this cat data failed to get this right. This raises serious questions about the accuracy of these shelters’ reported statistics. 39 of the 59 shelters with flawed dog statistics and 38 of the 60 facilities with incorrect cat statistics should have had more animals at the end of the year than reported. While these errors could have been due to incorrect counts of the number of animals at facilities, these shelters may have not recorded outcomes, such as animals who were killed, died, or went missing. To put it another way, 2,245 cats and dogs should have had outcomes reported and did not. Thus, there is the potential that as many as 2,245 additional dogs and cats were killed, died or went missing from New Jersey animal shelters than were reported in 2017.

Even worse, a number of animal shelters reported having a different number of animals at the end of 2016 and at the beginning of 2017. Obviously, shelters should report the same number of animals at the end of the prior year and the start of the current year. However, 34 of 93 shelters reported different numbers of dogs at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017. Similarly, 43 of 91 shelters reported different numbers of cats at the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017. The worst offenders are listed in the tables below:

2017 New Jersey Animal Shelters Beginning Missing Dogs.jpg

2017 New Jersey Animal Shelters Beginning Missing Cats

Shelters may have failed to classify animals adopted out and sent to rescues properly. Both Paterson Animal Control and Elizabeth Animal Shelter reported no animals were sent to rescues and all dogs and cats leaving their facilities alive were owner reclaims or adoptions. However, intake and disposition records I reviewed at both of these shelters in recent years revealed almost all “adopted” animals are actually rescued. One has to wonder how many other facilities failed to properly classify adoptions and rescues properly. This data is very important as it provides details on the burden rescues and other shelters are taking on from these facilities.

We need better oversight of New Jersey animal shelters’ data reporting. Currently, these statistics are voluntarily reported and most shelters are not taking this seriously. For example, I noticed a large number of reports were submitted many months after the end of the year. This data should be easy to compile since facilities can utilize animal shelter software programs, some of which are free, to do this task. Furthermore, New Jersey animal shelter laws mandate facilities maintain much of the raw data found in the Shelter/Pound Annual Report. Unfortunately, New Jersey Department of Health inspections routinely find shelters do not properly keep records on animals. We need to make the data reporting mandatory for animal shelters as the shelter reform bill, S725, does along with serious penalties for significant errors (especially if deliberate). In order for animal shelters to take data reporting seriously, we may also need to require audits of these reports. Thus, these results show we need stronger laws and the New Jersey Department of Health to play a greater role in ensuring reported animal shelter statistics are in fact accurate.

Despite the errors in these reports, the data provided still reveals important information.

More Animals Losing Their Lives in New Jersey Animal Shelters Than Disclosed in Summary Report

The more detailed data in the Shelter/Pound Annual Reports allows one to more critically examine the percentage of locally impounded animals dying in New Jersey’s animal shelters. The following table summarizes my analysis of the kill rate calculated from the New Jersey Department of Health’s summary report and the data reported in the Shelter/Pound Annual Reports.

2017 New Jersey Detailed Dog and Cat Kill Rates

This year I revised the dog statistics to remove an estimate of the dogs St. Hubert’s transfers in and quickly transfers out through its Sister Shelter WayStation program. Since St. Hubert’s is effectively acting as a middle man and not holding these animals very long, it makes sense to exclude these dogs from the various kill rate statistics below. If I did not exclude these animals, I would understate the dog kill rate due to inflated intake and outcomes numbers. Therefore, I removed all of St. Hubert’s dogs transferred out from the intake and outcomes figures to calculate the kill rates above except the “Kill Rate Per State Report (Intake).” This adjustment increased the dog kill rate (intake) from 6.6% to 7.3%. While St. Hubert’s also transfers in and transfers out cats through the Sister Shelter WayStation program, the numbers did not have a material impact on the statewide kill rates. As a result, I did not revise the cat statistics.

The Animal Intake and Disposition report prepared by the New Jersey Department of Health only allows one to calculate the number of animals killed as a percentage of total animals impounded or intake. I prefer calculating the kill rate as a percentage of outcomes rather than intake as this metric directly compares positive and negative outcomes. Using intake may depress the kill rate since shelters can simply hold animals for a long time to the point of overcrowding. Calculating the kill rate based on outcomes rather than intake caused the cat kill rate to increase from 18.4% to 18.8% while the dog kill rate remained at 7.3%.

To calculate the statewide kill rate, we must also back out transfers from one New Jersey animal shelter to another state facility to avoid counting animals still in the state’s shelter system or registering two outcomes for the same animal (i.e. one New Jersey animal shelter transfers a dog or cat to another state facility which then adopts out the animal). This adjustment increases the dog kill rate from 7.3% to 8.0% and the cat kill rate from 18.8% to 20.5%.

In addition, we should increase the kill rate for animals who died or went missing in shelters. In the past, I’ve labeled this metric the death rate as these animals are likely dead or in a very bad situation. Unfortunately, the Shelter/Pound Annual Report includes animals who died or went missing in the “Other” outcome category. The “Other” category contains positive live releases, such as TNR for cats, at a few shelters. While including the “Other” category in the death rate for most shelters is appropriate (i.e. those facilities that don’t do TNR or don’t include cats released through TNR programs in “Other” outcomes), I’m no longer doing this due to an increasing number of shelters implementing TNR. Instead, I calculated the kill rate by subtracting out “Other” outcomes from total outcomes. If a shelter specifies the number of animals included in “Other” that left the shelter alive, I count this as “Other Live Release” and do not back these amounts out of total outcomes. After making this adjustment, the dog kill rate increases from 8.0% to 8.1% and the cat kill rate rises from 20.5% to 21.9%. For those interested in seeing the estimated death rates, you can find them in the supporting spreadsheet.

Also, many shelters transport easy to adopt animals from out of state which artificially increases live release rates. To properly calculate the percentage of New Jersey animals losing their lives, we need to adjust for transports. Unfortunately, shelters don’t break out their save rates by local and out of state animals. However, most likely nearly all of the out of state animals (primarily puppies and easy to adopt dogs) make it out of shelters alive. Therefore, I back out the number of out of state transports from total outcomes to estimate the local kill rate. This adjustment increases the New Jersey dog kill rate from 8.1% to 10.5% and the state’s cat kill rate from 21.9% to 22.2%.

Also, I estimate a maximum local kill rate by including the number of unaccounted for animals described in the section above. Making this adjustment increases the maximum potential New Jersey dog kill rate from 10.5% to 14.2% and the maximum potential state cat kill rate from 22.2% to 24.7%.

Some animal shelters quickly return large percentages of their animals to owners. At these shelters, the populations served are typically well-off and animals are licensed and have microchips. To account for the animals facilities actually have to shelter, I calculated a kill rate for non-reclaimed animals and a maximum potential kill rate for non-reclaimed local animals. The non-reclaimed kill rate and maximum potential kill rate for dogs is 11.6% and 23.5%. Non-reclaimed cats had a 22.8% kill rate and a 25.8% maximum potential kill rate. Thus, the percentage of New Jersey animals losing their lives in our state’s animal shelters may be much higher than the state summary report suggests.

Kill Rates Extremely High at a Number of New Jersey Animal Shelters

Dogs and cats are likely to lose their lives at a number of New Jersey animal shelters. Shelters with the highest kill rates for dogs and cats (excluding very low intake facilities) are listed in the following tables:

2017 Dog Kill Rate

2017 Cat Kill Rate NJ.jpg

Thus, both dogs and cats have a very good chance of leaving many New Jersey animal shelters dead rather than alive.

In terms of raw numbers, the following shelters killed the most animals:

2017 Shelters with Most Dogs Killed

2017 Shelters with Most Cats Killed

Many shelters fail to account for large numbers of their animals. As discussed above, a shelter’s number of animals at the end of the year should be calculated as follows:

Beginning number of animals + animals impounded – animals leaving the shelter

Unfortunately, a large number of shelters take in far more animals than they can explain where they went. Shelters having the highest numbers of unaccounted for dogs and cats are listed in the following tables:

2017 Shelters Most Unaccounted for Dogs.jpg

2017 Shelters Most Unaccounted for Cats

Dog and cat kill rates at many shelters may be even higher if these unaccounted for animals are counted as killed. If we only consider animal shelters which reported transporting few or no animals in 2017, facilities with the highest dog and cat kill rates considering the unaccounted for animals described above are as follows:

2017 Shelters Maximum Potential Dog Kill Rate.jpg

2017 Shelters Maximum Potential Cat Kill Rate.jpg

Thus, the plight of dogs and cats may be far worse in New Jersey animal shelters when we consider the unaccounted for animals.

Shelters Turn Their Backs on New Jersey’s Animals

New Jersey animal shelters rescue far more dogs from out of state than from other New Jersey animal shelters. Specifically, New Jersey animal shelters transferred in 9,918 dogs from out of state animal shelters and only rescued 2,950 dogs from other New Jersey animal shelters. However, St. Hubert’s frequently transfers a substantial number of its transports quickly to its partners in New Jersey and other states. If I back out St. Hubert’s transfers of dogs to out of state organizations, the number of transports decreases from 9,918 dogs to 8,326 dogs. As a comparison, the total and adjusted transports in 2016 were 7,948 dogs and 7,033 dogs. While the state’s local kill rate decreased in 2017, it is likely the local kill rate would have decreased by more if not for the massive number of out of state transports.

While perhaps some shelters, such as Animal Alliance in Lambertville, take animals from nearby New York or Pennsylvania animal control shelters, the overwhelming majority of these dogs most certainly came from down south. In fact, New Jersey animal shelters transported more dogs from out of state than dogs who were killed in New Jersey animal shelters. This number does not include additional out of state dogs transported into New Jersey by rescues operating without a physical facility. Shelters transporting the most dogs from out of state were as follows:

2017 Dogs Transported into NJ

Shelters Do Far Worse with Animals Requiring New Homes

Since dogs reclaimed by their owners typically have licenses and/or microchips and quickly leave the shelter, its informative to look at dogs shelters have to find new homes for. To get a better idea of how organizations are doing with animals they actually have to shelter, I also examined what percentage of non-reclaimed dogs lose their lives at each facility. Shelters with the highest non-reclaimed dogs kill rates are as follows:

2017 Nonreclaimed Dog Kill Rate.jpg

Shelters with the highest maximum non-reclaimed dogs kill rates are as follows (excluding facilities that reported transporting many dogs in and taking very few animals in):

2017 Maximum Potential Nonreclaimed Dog Kill Rate

Shelters Leave Animal Enclosures Empty While Dogs and Cats Die

New Jersey animal shelters fail to use their space to save animals. Based on the average number of animals at all of New Jersey’s animal shelters at the beginning and the end of 2017, only 56% of dog and 71% of cat capacity was used. Given December is a low intake month, I also increased these populations to an average intake month. This adjustment only raised the dog capacity utilization to 62%. While this adjustment did increase the cat capacity utilization to 97%, it is highly unlikely this happened in reality. Shelter inspection reports I’ve reviewed often did not reveal significantly larger dog and cat populations in the summer and winter months. This is likely due to the influx of highly adoptable kittens having short lengths of stay and shelters killing cats with empty cages.

Many animal shelters with low kill rates failed to rescue animals with their excess space. Additionally, other shelters used little of their available space and still killed a large percentage of their animals. Some examples after increasing the population (and therefore capacity utilization) based on the adjustment discussed above are as follows:

Space Usage Dogs

Space Usage Cats

Thus, many New Jersey animal shelters are killing dogs and cats despite having ample space to house these animals.

New Jersey’s animal shelters continue to fail the state’s animals. The state’s animal shelters only impound 9.2 dogs and cats per 1,000 New Jersey residents. If we just count animals originating from New Jersey, the state’s animal shelters only impound 7.3 dogs and cats per 1,000 people. As a comparison, the average community in the country impounds anywhere from 14-30 animals per 1,000 residents based on estimates from Animal People Newspaper and the Humane Society of the United States. Despite New Jersey shelters impounding a fraction of the animals other no kill communities take in on a per capita basis, the state’s animal control facilities continue to kill and allow animals to die under their care. Even worse, many of these shelters can’t even properly keep track of how many animals leave their facilities dead or alive. Our state’s animals deserve far better treatment than this. Contact your local city council members and mayor and demand better from the animal shelter serving your community. We can do so much better and it is time our shelters operate this way.

Santini’s Shady Animal Control Contract

Late last year, Garfield animal activists erupted in anger when the city replaced its existing animal control and sheltering provider with New Jersey Animal Control and Rescue. Geoff Santini runs New Jersey Animal Control and Rescue and also created a nonprofit, New Jersey Humane Society, that houses the animals this animal control company picks up. At the time, local animal advocates felt “blindsided” and had many concerns about Mr. Santini’s past history in Hudson County. Specifically, the Garfield animal advocates cited how many times Mr. Santini changed the names of his companies, his relationship with his brother-in-law, Vincent Ascolese, who is a disgraced animal control officer, and the capacity of Mr. Santini’s animal shelter.

The local animal rescue community was happy with All Humane Animal Control, which serviced the city for a number of years. While I had some concerns with All Humane Animal Control not submitting annual animal shelter statistics to the New Jersey Department of Health, I generally heard the person running it was an animal lover and had a big heart. In addition, when I previously lived in one of the communities serviced by All Humane Animal Control, I witnessed the company pick up a neighbor’s owner surrendered dog at their front door. Thus, it seemed All Humane Animal Control provided good service.

In December, the Garfield City Council decided to suspend its contract with Geoff Santini’s company. During this City Council meeting, the former Garfield mayor, and Garfield Animal Rescue Foundation President, Tana Raymond, argued Santini couldn’t properly service Garfield since Mr. Santini serves as an ACO in several Hudson County towns and his private animal control company also handles other municipalities in that county. Furthermore, Ms. Raymond stated she might sue Garfield if the city did not terminate its contract with Mr. Santini. Geoff Santini stated his shelter could initially hold over 20 dogs and 40 cats and house an additional 50 dogs and 60 cats after he finished expanding the facility around the end of 2017. Mr. Santini also claimed it is a no kill facility.

In January 2018, Garfield decided to keep on contracting with Mr. Santini saying the contract “is a valid binding agreement and can’t be rescinded.”

Should Garfield animal advocates have concerns about Geoff Santini’s company? Is Garfield’s contract with Mr. Santini’s company a good deal for taxpayers? Could Garfield terminate the agreement with Mr. Santini’s company?

Geoff Santini’s Connection to the Horrific Hudson County SPCA

The Hudson County SPCA may have been the worst shelter in New Jersey history. In 2000, New Jersey Commission of Investigation’s report on the state and county SPCAs documented alleged neglect, deplorable conditions, animal cruelty, fraudulent activities, and inaccurate record keeping. In fact, one employee bludgeoned a dog with a shovel and another worker sold shelter dogs on the side to a guard dog business. The report also stated Hudson County SPCA only had a legally mandated veterinarian of record “on paper” and animals were provided little to no veterinary care. Subsequently, Hudson County SPCA asserted it implemented a “no kill” policy, but the organization clearly did not properly implement no kill given the huge number of complaints from Hudson County animal activistsHudson County Superior Court shut down Hudson County SPCA in April 2008 after a series of failed inspections. Two months later, 15 carcasses, including a goat, were found rotting in the shelter’s unplugged freezer. In 2010, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Thomas Olivieri dissolved the Hudson County SPCA and had strong words for the organization:

The “HCSPCA has repeatedly conducted it’s business in an unlawful manner,” Hudson County Superior Court Judge Thomas Olivieri said in today’s order dissolving the organization which was based on Johnston Avenue in Jersey City.

The judge also stated as reasons for the dissolution that “The HCSPCA has suspended its ordinary activities for lack of funds,” “is conducting its activities at a great loss and with great prejudice to the interests of it’s creditors” and “in a manner that is prejudicial to the public.”

While Mr. Santini has portrayed his involvement with the Hudson County SPCA as an attempt to fix a failing organization, the New Jersey Attorney General’s office viewed him as part of the Hudson County SPCA after he joined the board at the end of 2006 (Geoff Santini’s resume states he became a Member of the Hudson County SPCA in 2003). In a letter to the judge in the Hudson County Superior Court, the Office of the Attorney General argued the Hudson County SPCA should not receive the net proceeds it would obtain from selling its former animal shelter.

The Office of the Attorney General argued Mr. Santini was involved in the activities that were grounds for dissolving the Hudson County SPCA.

In fact, Mr. Santini, the Chairman of the Alleged Board, was a member of the Board that governed HCSPCA when it was engaging in activities that are grounds for dissolution, the Alleged Board has made no effort to cure the grounds for dissolution

Most importantly, the Office of the Attorney General cited several Hudson County SPCA violations of animal shelter laws while Mr. Santini was a board member of the organization.

On December 27, 2006, Mr. Santini became a member of HCSPCA’s Board and the Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. On the same day, the board also passed a motion to allow Mr. Galioto to lead the Law Enforcement Division. (ERR, Exh. C, HCSPCA-GARB-00012.) Despite these references to HCSPCA’s Law Enforcement Division, HCSPCA continued to rely on NJSPCA to provide law enforcement services in Hudson County. (ERR, Exh. A, 120-133.) The ERR shows that during the period from December 27, 2006, when Mr. Santini became a member of HCSPCA’s Board, and April 11, 2008, when Hudson County Animal Advocates commenced this action, HCSPCA engaged in many of the activities that are grounds for dissolution. These activities include : (a) HCSPCA misrepresented that Jason Bibber was an animal control officer in its contract with Union City (ERR at 7); (b) HCSPCA failed to comply with the record keeping requirements set forth in N.J.A.C. 8:23A-1.13 (ERR at 11-12); (c) HCSPCA failed to comply with the regulations governing sanitary conditions at an animal shelter (ERR at 15-17) (d) HCSPCA failed to have a health care program under the supervision of a veterinarian in violation of N.J.A.C. 8:23A-1.9 (ERR at 21-23) ; (e) HCSPCA failed to provide medical care to shelter animals in violation of N.J.A.C. 8:23A-1.9(d) (ERR at 25-26) (f) HCSPCA failed to establish and maintain a disease control program in violation of N.J.A.C. 8:23A-1.9 (a) – (c) (ERR at 27-29) ; (g) HCSPCA failed to maintain the animal shelter in compliance with regulations (ERR at 31) (h) HCSPCA failed to file federal tax returns ( ERR at 3 5) and ( I ) HCSPCA was insolvent ( ERR at 4 6 – 4 8 )

Furthermore, the Office of the Attorney General argued Geoff Santini failed to act properly after he became the the President of the Hudson County SPCA and Chairman of its board in 2008.

On June 25, 2008, Mr. Santini became the President of HCSPCA and the Chairman of the Board. Since Mr. Santini became the Chairman of the Board, HCSPCA has failed to take any actions to cure its insolvency, to repay its debts or comply with the filing requirements that apply to not-for-profit corporations. HCSPCA’s delay in filing its answer to the Attorney General’ s complaint, its failure to cooperate with the Equitable Receiver’s investigation and its attempt to sell HCSPCA’s property in violation of the Order, provide further evidence that Mr. Santini, and the Alleged Board, have no interest in turning HCSPCA into a good corporate citizen.

Finally, the Office of the Attorney General argued Mr. Santini participated in activities that were grounds for dissolving the Hudson County SPCA and that was one of the reasons the Hudson County SPCA should not gain control of its assets.

Mr. Santini’s participation in the activities that are grounds for dissolving HCSPCA, the Alleged Board’s failure to turn HCSPCA into a good corporate citizen, and the Alleged Board’ s contempt for the Order, are reasons why the Alleged Board is unsuited to gain control of HCSPCA’s assets.

Santini’s Union City Debacle

In 2011, the New Jersey Department of Health found Mr. Santini’s contracted animal shelter violating state animal shelter laws. Geoff Santini’s company at the time, Hudson County Animal Enforcement, contracted with a veterinary office, Summit Animal Clinic, in Union City. The inspection report found Summit Animal Clinic did not keep adequate records, failed to isolate sick animals, and didn’t have a disease control program. Furthermore, Summit Animal Clinic’s 2012 animal shelter statistics revealed it killed 35% of its dogs and 56% of its cats who had outcomes.

Union City Feral Cat Committee Calls Out Santini’s Practices

The Union City Feral Cat Committee issued a scathing report on Mr. Santini’s operation in 2014. This group asserted the following about Mr. Santini’s company:

  1. Did not have specific and measurable goals to ensure the ending of killing healthy and treatable animals
  2. As a for profit company, it did not have access to grant money
  3. Did not perform TNR
  4. Did not support low income residents to keep their pets
  5. Did not have a shelter in any of the contracted municipalities
  6. Did not use volunteers
  7. Did not provide records so residents and government officials could determine the company’s performance

Battle in Bayonne

In late 2015, Bayonne animal advocates protested the replacing of Liberty Humane Society with Mr. Santini’s company. Prior to a Bayonne City Council meeting, the advocates staged a protest making many of the same allegations Garfield advocates have made. At the time, Bayonne elected officials decided to replace Liberty Humane Society with claims Liberty Humane Society did not respond appropriately to “nuisance wildlife.” In reality, Bayonne wanted to trap wildlife which almost always means killing such animals since relocation is typically not possible. While Mr. Santini’s spokesman, who also does this job for several Hudson County towns, said Mr. Santini planned to bring such animals to wildlife rehabilitation facilities whose objective is to release such animals into the wild, it defies logic that such facilities could do so without killing at least some of these creatures. The Department of Environmental Protection prohibits releasing adult animals from “rabies vector” species, such as raccoons and skunks, in areas outside the town they came from.

Subsequent to this time, a Facebook page has continued to criticize the city’s use of Mr. Santini’s company. However, Geoff Santini recently sued the Facebook page admin for defamation. However, the Facebook page admin asserted the lawsuit was a SLAPP or strategic lawsuit against public participation designed to silence criticism by burdening the person with legal costs.

Hudson County No Show Job

Last week, NBC New York’s I-Team aired a devastating story detailing Geoff Santini virtually never showing up to an $81,386 a year security job at the North Bergen Housing Authority. The expose tracked Mr. Santini for a week and only found him at his job for three hours during the reported 35 hour work week. Instead, they frequently found Geoff Santini at his animal shelter. In fact, they even found the vehicle, a Chevy Tahoe, he is supposed to use for North Bergen Housing Authority work at the shelter that collects around $350,000 from taxpayers. If that was not bad enough, the story stated Geoff Santini occasionally drives North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco around in this same work related vehicle. Mayor Sacco sits on the North Bergen Board of Commissioners which appoints the North Bergen Housing Board’s commissioners.

The story also documented Mr. Santini having additional Hudson County jobs. Specifically, he is also a constable in Hudson County and an administrative aide to County Freeholder Anthony Vanieri. Apparently, Geoff Santini’s multiple government job/contractor gig is shared with his friend, Mayor Sacco. Mayor Sacco is also a state Senator and also was the Director of Elementary and Secondary Eduction, a $260,000 a year job, until last year. Does anyone believe either of these individuals could adequately perform all these jobs simultaneously? Clearly, Geoff Santini and Nicholas Sacco are taking advantage of taxpayers to enrich themselves.

Garfield Can Terminate its Contract with Geoff Santini

Based on the agreement Garfield sent me, the city can terminate the contract as long as it documents the reason for doing so:

NJAC Garfield Contract Termination Provision

Furthermore, Garfield did not sign the copy of the agreement the city provided to me. When I asked the City Clerk, she stated Garfield does not have an executed agreement.

Thus, the City of Garfield’s claim that it was stuck with the contract does not appear to hold water.

Garfield Taxpayers Paying Much More 

Garfield paid All Humane Animal Control either $16,667 (annual amount listed) or $25,000 (sum of monthly amounts listed) per year according to the contract provided to me by the city. The contract did require the owners of stray animals to pay or the city (if the owners couldn’t do so) to pay for emergency veterinary care in addition to this amount.

Under Garfield’s new contract with New Jersey Animal Control and Rescue, Garfield pays $46,000 a year. As with the prior All Humane Animal Control contract, owners would bear the costs of their stray animals’ emergency veterinary care and the city would pick up the tab if the owners can’t pay. However, this contract also provides Mr. Santini’s company a whopping $35 per day for up to 3 months when Garfield requests the shelter to hold an animal in a court case. For example, if New Jersey Animal Control and Rescue shelter held four dogs for 90 days each due to litigation, Garfield would have to pay Mr. Santini’s company an additional $12,600. Garfield taxpayers have to pay New Jersey Animal Control and Rescue $175 if they want to remove an animal within their home. Furthermore, the agreement seems to indicate Garfield taxpayers must pay New Jersey Animal Control a fee of $175 to trap a stray domestic animal and wildlife with the fee for a second trap being $75.

Clearly, Garfield’s new animal control and sheltering contract costs far more than the previous arrangement. Thus, it is unclear what benefits the city is obtaining for this extra cost.

No Kill Shelter Claims Are Hard to Believe

The size of Geoff Santini’s shelter is important in determining if his organization can handle the many municipalities it serves. According to this article, a nonprofit entity called New Jersey Humane Society was created to run the shelter. If we take Mr. Santini’s word that the facility initially could hold 20 dogs and 40 cats, the capacity would be very tight. Specifically, if New Jersey Humane Society had the same per capita dog and cat intake as nearby Liberty Humane Society, New Jersey Humane Society would only have 16 days to move each dog and cat out of the facility before it runs out of room. However, the shelter would have a much more reasonable 56 days and 40 days to get each dog and cat out using these same per capita animal intake figures and assuming the claimed capacity from the expansion project exists. On the other hand, an article from 2016 stated the shelter would only house 45 dogs and 40 cats after its “Phase 2” project. Using these capacity figures and the aforementioned assumptions, the shelter would have 36 days and 16 days to move each dog and cat out before it runs out of space.

Geoff Santini’s animal shelter, New Jersey Humane Society, does not look very large from photos of the property. That being said, looks can be deceiving. On the other hand, Mr. Santini’s brother-in law’s shelter, Bergen Protect and Rescue Foundation in Cliffside Park, claims it can hold 78 dogs and 210 cats. However, when I visited the Cliffside Park facility, the building was so small that I found it implausible it could hold anywhere near that many animals. I’d suggest Mr. Santini have an independent party provide specific details on the number of dog and cat enclosures and the size of each one. Doing so, could make the public more comfortable with his operation.

New Jersey Humane Society

New Jersey Humane Society2

New Jersey Humane Society has little to no information I can find about its programs to save animals. While the shelter’s Facebook page has a link to the New Jersey Humane Society’s web site, that link did not work when I clicked on it. Similarly, I could not find a web site for Mr. Santini’s New Jersey Animal Control and Rescue company. Additionally, I could not find an adoption web site, such as Petfinder, for New Jersey Humane Society. In the New Jersey Humane Society’s “About” section of its Facebook page, it currently lists a general description of its organization’s mission.

New Jersey Humane Society dedicates it’s service to “Protect and Rescue” stray and domesticated animals across Hudson County.

That being said, the New Jersey Humane Society Facebook page does show the shelter doing some good things. The shelter lists a number of lost animals and mentions some pets that went to foster homes and rescue organizations. In the past, St. Hubert’s has rescued many dogs from hoarding situations Mr. Santini’s organization handled. However, New Jersey Humane Society’s Facebook page showed few adoptions it did itself.

Frankly, I find it difficult to believe Mr. Santini’s organization is attaining a live release rate of 90% or higher and impounding all animals needing assistance without seeing more details on its live release programs. Furthermore, despite claiming his shelter would open in 2016, Mr. Santini’s shelter did not submit statistics to the New Jersey Department of Health for that year. As we’ve seen in urban shelters, such as in Elizabeth and Paterson, facilities typically cannot achieve no kill status by relying almost entirely on rescues. Thus, Geoff Santini must provide more transparency into his organizations’ operations.

At the end of the day, I would truly like to believe Mr. Santini runs a real no kill animal control shelter that comprehensively implements the 11 No Kill Equation programs. Certainly, northern Hudson County needs a no kill animal control facility. However, Mr. Santini’s history concerns me and many other animal advocates. As such, he must prove to us that his way of doing things has improved dramatically. Simply put, don’t just call yourself “no kill”, prove to us that you are.

Until Mr. Santini can clearly demonstrate he is running a real no kill animal control facility that helps all animals in need, I cannot support Garfield’s or Bayonne’s decisions to contract with his company. Furthermore, I cannot understand why Garfield would pay significantly more money to Mr. Santini’s company than the city’s prior contractor. As such, Garfield and Bayonne should terminate their agreements with Geoff Santini’s company and contract with their previous providers (Garfield: All Humane Animal Control; Jersey City: Liberty Humane Society).