June 8, 2014 at 5:00 AM
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – The village could take over operation of the animal shelter currently run by the nonprofit Jersey Animal Coalition, according to Deputy Village Adminsitrator Adam Loehner.
Loehner said he has prepared three recommendations for the Board of Trustees regarding the shelter, at 298 Walton Ave. The shelter remains remains under quarantine and has not been allowed to take in animals since mid-March.
The three options Loehner said he will present are for the village to outsource care for stray animals to another shelter outside of South Orange, to open a municipal pound or to allow the JAC to continue caring for animals in compliance with all local and state regulations. Those recommendations could come at the Board's meeting Monday night.
Members of the shelter’s administration have made no efforts to work with the village to correct the infractions since they were shut down by Village Health Officer John Festa, according to Loehner.
“The village is just surprised that the JAC has not given us any information or tried to work with us to fix the issues,” Loehner said.
The Jersey Animal Coalition has been under quarantine since a March 12 inspection found 51 health code violations at the shelter. The JAC plead not guilty to all of the charges levied against it, and the case is currently in court. The litigation is in the evidence-gathering phase, Loehner said.
William Strazza, attorney for the JAC, declined to comment on Loehner’s recommendations specifically but did say that the shelter is still dedicated to protecting the animals in its care.
“The JAC is dedicated to one thing, namely, the best interests of the animals it has served for years,” he said. “The JAC has denied all of the charges filed against it, and continue in its position that the charges and the quarantine are baseless.”
Strazza also stated that the quarantine is having a negative impact on the wellbeing of the animals at the shelter.
“In the view of the JAC, any quarantine imposed by administration should be lifted immediately, as there are countless individuals looking to adopt the animals who are needlessly quarantined at the JAC facility,” he said.
Loehner, however, said that the village has worked with the Associated Humane Societies shelter in Newark and several JAC volunteers to arrange adoptions for the quarantined animals, but that nobody has actually come forth to request an adoption.
The JAC operates the shelter in South Orange under a contract with the village. It serves as the intake shelter for South Orange and Maplewood.