City skipped payments in shelter dispute, now animals’ futures are threatened

October 31, 2018

Associated Humane Societies in Newark will no longer accept animals from the city as of Nov. 8.

Once under fire for its failed state inspections and reports of gruesome conditions, Newark’s independently-run animal shelter announced on Wednesday it will no longer accept animals from the city or its residents beginning Nov. 8.

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John Bergmann, acting executive director of Associated Humane Societies, said the city has not paid its bills since July and the shelter could no longer afford to continue their services.  

“By not paying what is due, the city of Newark is acting contrary to the interests of its own citizens and animals,” he said in a statement. “It’s not right that the city expects to get our services for free.”

The shelter, located on Evergreen Avenue, contracts with 14 municipalities but its largest contract — $675,000 a year — is with Newark. Bergmann said the shelter has been operating without a contract with the city since the beginning of the year. 

“Newark is not paying as part of a negotiation tactic. They think, if they don’t pay, AHS will have to accept whatever the city eventually decides to pay,” he said. 

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A spokesman with the city said he was checking with the administration for a response. 

The Newark shelter was previously criticized for its conditions and cited by state and local health officials for multiple violations including holding dogs in poorly ventilated conditions and having questionable protocols for euthanizing animals.

Its former executive director, RoseAnn Trezza, was charged with 16 counts of animal cruelty and accepted a plea deal that bans her from the shelter for two years. 

Members of Newark’s City Council questioned the contract late last year and demanded the shelter make improvements. Newark provides the shelter with 40 percent of its revenues, city officials said.

Shelter representatives said they have made numerous improvements to its facility since the inspections. 

“To me, it’s two sided: in the short term, it’s obviously not good because they (the animals) don’t have a place to go,” Alan Rosenberg, who used to volunteer at the Newark facility and is a shelter reform activist, said of the news. On the other hand, he said, “it’s going to force the city to do something …  they would be forced to come up with a solution.”

Rosenberg said under state law, municipalities must impound animals and find a place to house them for at least seven days. 

AHS has two other facilities in Tinton Falls and Forked River, including the Popcorn Park animal sanctuary.

Karen Yi may be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @karen_yi or on Facebook

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