Petition update

Hunterdon Animal Shelter and Votech’s Veterinarian Assistance Program

Hunterdon County Animal Shelter Committee

Feb 1, 2019 — 

Hunterdon Animal Shelte Hunterdon Animal Shelter and Votech’s Veterinary and Votech’s Veterinarian Assistance Program Proposed Partnership Must Comply With NJ Animal Shelter Regulations!

Dear petitioners, we have grown to over 3200 supporters who demand transparency and accountability from the Hunterdon Animal Shelter in Alexandria. We were compelled to start this petition upon learning that the shelter might apply for a kennel license to reopen. With this in mind, we are giving another update that reveals a proposed partnership between Votech and the Hunterdon Animal Shelter if and when the shelter opens.    

The Hunterdon County Votech School District posted this announcement on the Polytech Webpage:

The Veterinary Assistant Program 'has also begun forging a partnership with the SPCA in Alexandria that will lead to expanded hands-on learning experiences through both in-class and internship experiences.  This is a mutually beneficial partnership, because our students will practice administering medicine and providing basic care for the animals, said Tanya Nelesnik, Assistant Business Administrator for HCVSD and President of the Hunterdon Humane Society'

Votech’s Superintendent confirmed to us that the class location referenced in the above announcement is 576 Stamets Rd in Alexandria. This property is owned by the Hunterdon Humane Animal Shelter, Inc but is referred to as the SPCA in Alexandria in the announcement on the Polytech webpage.

This announcement makes it clear that the Votech’s Veterinary Assistant Program and the proposed partnership with the Hunterdon Animal Shelter in Alexandria would provide shelter animals to practice on. 

We contacted the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services who informed us that the proposed class would be prohibited from working with any animals seized in abuse cases and any animals who were brought in as strays and who might belong to someone who has not yet claimed them. Furthermore, Title 4:19-15.16i forbids experimentation on shelter animals. The shelter and Votech are required to do due diligence to assure the community and NJ regulators that any intrusive procedures performed by students such as administering medication, taking blood or giving injections does not fall into the category of experimentation on shelter animals.

We also contacted the NJ State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners to inform them about the proposed plans to allow students to practice on shelter animals under the instruction of a veterinarian technician. We were informed that the shelter’s Supervising Veterinarian must be present when intrusive procedures such as administering medicine (see announcement on Votech’s webpage), drawing blood or giving vaccinations to an animal are performed. According to the ‘Requirements for Disease Control and Health Care Programs for New Jersey Shelters, May 2016’, under N.J.A.C. 13:44-4.4, the Supervising Veterinarian is required to personally examine the animals prior to prescribing any medication for animals housed in a licensed animal facility. If the Supervising Veterinarian supplies vaccines or other medications for which a prescription is necessary, the Supervising Veterinarian must ensure that the vaccines or other medication is administered properly. N.J.A.C 13:44-4.9 states the Supervising Veterinarian shall maintain a separate patient record for each animal and all patient records shall accurately reflect the treatment or services rendered. Given these requirements, we hope that the shelter’s Supervisory Veterinarian would discuss in detail with the class instructor what procedures will be practiced on the shelter animals for each lesson, any treatment or treatment plan prescribed for that animal by the Supervising Veterinarian, if the Supervising Veterinarian is required to be present for that lesson, and what records need to be made.

Another troubling aspect of this proposed partnership is how the animals would react to being handled by students practicing on them. An animal shelter is a stressful environment and can challenge even the most docile and trusting of animals. Many animals come in demoralized, physically ill, stressed and sometimes unsocialized. To subject them to students who are practicing procedures  such as restraining techniques, nail clipping and grooming can stress them even further.  It might put students at risk since no one knows the animal’s history prior to entering the shelter and how it will react to being handled by a group of strangers. This also brings up a question of liability to the taxpayers since Votech is involved.

We strongly recommend that the Hunterdon Animal Shelter and Votech do their due diligence to answer all the issues raised here before proceeding with this partnership. They must comply with all the requirements that protect shelter animals under the NJ state laws.



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