Petition update

February 27th HHAS, SPCA Update

Hunterdon County Animal Shelter Committee

Feb 27, 2019 — 

Dear petitioners we have reached over 3800 on-line and hard copy signatures. Thank you! Our grassroots organization, Hunterdon County Animal Shelter Committee (HCASC), exists to benefit animals who are or will be sheltered at 576 Stamets Rd in Alexandria. This animal shelter is known as the Hunterdon Humane Animal Shelter (HHAS) but is also called the SPCA.  Encouraged by your continually growing support, our committee will remain a permanent organization serving the Hunterdon County community and its shelter animals. Please view our website for the full version of our mission statement, past updates, link to our petition, and how to contact us.  Our web site is:  https://www.hcasc.org/

Please pass on our web site link to those people in Hunterdon County who have not yet signed our petition or those who would like to know more about our organization.

Our committee is documenting the steps the HHAS shelter is taking to reopen because the past shelter management failed to follow many of New Jersey’s animal shelter laws and regulations to the detriment of the animals. We believe that the HHAS shelter board encouraged and received millions of dollars of donations from the community and had the money and resources to provide the animals with state of the art services. Instead, a state report documented cases of animals failing to get the veterinary care they needed. We were outraged to learn from the state report that the past HHAS shelter management allowed the routine use of the heart stick method of euthanasia which was performed by shelter workers. This method of euthanasia is done by intracardiac injection. The report also found that the freezer in which bodies were stored was full at the time of the inspection. The HHAS shelter could have reached out to the community to foster animals and to animal rescues to take shelter animals to prevent over-crowding. Other shelters report that their foster and animal rescue networks are life savers. The following link documents the state’s findings on conditions at the HHAS shelter under the past management:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B8RQfFWRnvxkTE9wTHp2bDc0bUU/view

By signing our petition, you are telling the elected officials in Hunterdon and the present HHAS board that this must never happen again. Our scrutiny has already paid off.  We discovered an announcement on the Polytech website published in October that the shelter was forging a partnership with the Hunterdon County Votech. This partnership would provide students in the Veterinary Assistant Program with shelter animals to practice on. We challenged this partnership and questioned the legality of using shelter animals in this capacity in our Feb. 1, 2019 update to this petition. Please check our website to read the full explanation of why we strongly oppose this partnership. To summarize our opposition, there is a possible violation of Title 4:19-15.16i which forbids experimentation on shelter animals. Practicing administering medicine, giving injections or any intrusive procedure on a shelter animal could fall into the category of experimentation. This class would also put an onerous responsibility on the supervising veterinarian under N.J.A.C 13:44-4.4 and N.J.A.C. 13:44-4.9. Most importantly, we object to the shelter animals being put under stress by students who are practicing on them.  The Votech announcement has been removed from the Polytech web page.  But we are still monitoring the situation and will inform the public if Votech and the shelter try to put this proposal into action.

 It’s troubling that the present HHAS shelter board would view the Votech partnership as something positive for shelter animals. It makes us question if this board has the understanding of NJ laws, empathy for shelter animals, and the understanding of what’s required to run a shelter. What preparations are being made by the HHAS board to assure that the animals will be cared for according to N.J.A.C. 8:23A Subchapter 1 Sanitary Operation of Kennels, Pet Shops, Shelters and Pounds? http://www.cpe.rutgers.edu/eph/njac/Title-8-Chapter-23A-Animal-facility-operation-animal-control-officer-and-animal-cruelty-investigator-certification-pilot-spaying-clinic-fees-and-rabies-inoculation.pdf    What policy is the board developing for a foster program, a volunteer program, and a network of animal rescues?  Is the board reaching out to the community to create a database of expertise and talents that can be utilized to enhance the animals’ lives while at the shelter? What steps are being taken to hire the most experienced and best qualified employees? What supply chains are being developed to provide high quality food and other supplies? What actions are being taken to study other shelters considered state of the art and who follow best practices? 

It’s possible that Hunterdon County officials could select HHAS as Hunterdon’s shelter for animals seized in abuse cases.  This decision would make HHAS a quasi-public entity since it would have a mandate from these officials. As a quasi-public entity, HHAS must maintain a policy of transparency and accountability.  County officials would be linked to HHAS policies, decisions, and would share responsibility with HHAS if NJ laws and regulations were violated. Also, the community would have the right to know if HHAS receives taxpayer funds.

The community is energized and can rely on our committee to focus on all the issues that involve the animals at HHAS. The public can be assured we will report the good and the bad HHAS policies and practices.   


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