August 13, 2014 at 9:38 PM
LINDEN, NJ – The following is a press release by the City of Linden’s Ad Hoc Animal Control
The City of Linden’s ad hoc Animal Control Committee is proposing to overhaul the City’s Animal Control Facility and practices after a thorough and continuing review of same.
The review was undertaken after concerns regarding the facility were brought to the attention of the Mayor and Council. The City Council formally established the Committee in June, consisting of Chair and Councilwoman Michele Yamakaitis, Councilman Adam Kuczynski, and Councilman Armando Medina. The Committee also worked very closely with Linden Mayor Richard Gerbounka.
The Committee reviewed claims relating to the Facility, including claims that were mere rumors, or duplicative. As one of its first measures, the Committee requested that the City of Elizabeth’s Health
Department examine and inspect the Facility to:
1) Make sure there were no signs of animal abuse or neglect; and
2) Evaluate the current structural housing and building.
The Committee also visited Woodbridge Township’s Animal Control Facility to review their practices, to tour their building, and further the Committee met with professionals in various fields, including regional volunteers, to best understand the issues relating to animal control.
“This was something the council didn’t take lightly. It was my intent as Chairperson to make sure we investigated every complaint, to the greatest extent, even if it delayed our findings. We did make immediate recommendations to modify and review certain aspects of current procedures out of an abundance of caution,” said Chairwoman Yamakaitis.
In response to the many findings, the Committee has determined both short-term plans and long-term goals:
1) The Committee recommended that all euthanasia procedures stop on the Animal Control premises, with the exception of extremely injured or sick animals. Instead, any euthanasia procedures are to be performed at a local, contracted veterinary clinic.
2) The Committee recommended capital improvements be undertaken to the facility to assume that the facilities remain viable as an animal control facility, including replacing doors, gates, lighting/electrical work, landscaping, ventilation work, and equipment maintenance, as necessary.
3) The Committee recommended the exploration and use of additional means to advise the public of animals within the facility, with regard to the animals’ well-being and the owners’ right to reclaim the animal, if lost. This includes posting photographs of the animals with the location, as soon as possible after collection.
4) The Committee recommended changes and upgrades to record-keeping, with short-term fixes including the installation of a copier, when feasible, to make copies of adopter identification and duplicate case files, with the eventual goal of upgrading to successful record-keeping strategies of other animal shelters, such as the Woodbridge Animal Shelter. In order to quickly establish this initiative, all individual adoptions will be handles through the Friends of the Linden Animal Shelter, adopting their procedures and protocol.
5) The Committee recommends the establishment of a “Wounded Animal Fund” to treat injured animals the Animal Control has found. This fund would be made up of volunteer donations.
Long Term Goals
1) The Committee recommends the demolition of the current Animal Control Facility and the building of a new facility that is tailored to the needs of the animals and those who wish to assist and volunteer. The Committee is projecting this facility to be mostly financed by donations and private funding through different channels, as available, rather than taxpayer dollars.
2) As such, the Committee recommends that the City of Linden’s need for animal control services be bid out and privatized for the coming year (2015), and until the new facility is constructed.
3) The Committee recommends notifying all regional municipalities that utilize Linden’s Animal Control services of the coming change.
4) The Committee recommends a new strategy and partnership with an animal rescue group, as is done in other municipalities, to assist in the maintenance and adoption of the animals.
Most of the short-term suggestions were immediately implemented and are being performed as materials, financing, and ability became available. The long-term goals will require Council approval and are subject to the ability to find funding and volunteers.
“There have been many concerned individuals that have come forward,” said Linden Mayor Richard Gerbounka. “And it is my hope that we can harness this energy and project it forward to funding, building, and maintaining a new Animal Control facility.
Gerbounka pointed out that there was a delay in truly upgrading the facility on a grand scale due to the proposed Union County Animal Control Facility that was to serve all of Union County. However, that project stalled over the years and eventually failed.
“Our facility certainly wasn’t the best in the area, but we attempted to maintain it with reasonable standards while Union County was proposing a county-wide facility. Many of these issues came with age, which would require larger scale remodeling with a large cost associated, and this remodeling would have been moot if Union County built a facility that would have not only been more modern, but larger.”
But, Gerbounka and the rest of the Committee quickly recognized the need for a new facility after inspecting the site and visiting other facilities.
“In order to adequately serve the animals of this region, we need to work together with those who are experts in this field,” said Councilman Adam Kuczynski. “These animals come from a variety of circumstances and backgrounds, whether lost, neglected, or abused. So, it will take a concerted effort and time to create an agency that can handle these challenges and adopt out as many of these animals, as possible.”
Unfortunately, there has also been misinformation on social media and other outlets regarding the current Animal Control facility and practices.
“We immediately set out to either verify or debunk these claims as can be expected. We began to recognize that some of the claims had some validity, which we addressed as quickly as possible. But, we also began to see that many did not have merit, as it seems that they were propagated rumors, duplications, or misunderstandings which often occur in the social media realm. However, we felt it was important to examine every claim that we found,” Yamakaitis said. “It is just unfortunate that the false information slowed down our efforts a bit.”
Moving forward, the Committee plans to continue its focus on the long-term goals while following up on the short-term solutions at the current site.
“We wanted to thank all those who have shown their concern for these animals,” Yamakaitis said on behalf of Kuczynski and Medina. “And we want to ask you to help us move forward and fix the issues we found.