More animals pulled from NJ shelter, following lock out

The future of Trenton’s animal shelter remains unknown, as more animals have been pulled from the shelter over the weekend, following staff getting locked out Friday afternoon.

Only four dogs remain in the shelter as of Tuesday morning, Trenton Animals Rock’s Executive Director Danielle Gletow told NJ Advance Media. She and her staff were able to get the other animals out of the shelter Monday morning and into foster placements.

Three of the remaining dogs are on stray hold, meaning they have recently come in and are allowed to leave on Friday — with foster placements already set — and one is in the middle of an ongoing court case.

“We were told that there can’t be an executive order issued by the mayor. Our hope now is the state,” Gletow said. “I don’t know in what capacity. They can’t override a vote, but could they issue some sort of public emergency? This is a public health emergency.”

An animal control officer and maintenance worker were the ones who fed the remaining animals and cleaned cages over the weekend, Gletow said, but the animals have not left the shelter.

Mayor Reed Gusciora is also asking for the state’s intervention in the situation.

In a letter addressed to Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver in her capacity as head of the state’s Department of Community Affairs on Monday, Gusciora asked for DCA’s approval to hire additional staff and contract out for veterinarian services, which requires approval from the state.

Trenton Animals Rock has helped with veterinarian care, dog-walking, adoption services, and more, he said, while the city’s four full-time animal control officers mainly handled and captured wild and stray domesticated animals.

Gusciora requested “expeditious approval” to hire additional animal control officers to fully staff the shelter, and to contract out for veterinarian care.

“While the Council Members who voted to reject the continuation of (Trenton Animals Rock’s) services felt City employees and/or our four (4) animal control officers could now immediately perform such duties, this is simply not true,” he wrote. “Moreover, this would require us hiring additional staff as well as contracting out for veterinarian services, an occurrence that is unlikely given our budgetary constraints and necessity for DCA’s approval under our (memorandum of understanding).”

The shelter’s situation comes after city council members voted 4-3 against renewing Trenton Animals Rock’s contract last Thursday. The nonprofit had been operating the shelter under an emergency extension since January, when a previous budget dispute came up.

The extension expired March 31.

“It’s really alarming that such a freakish decision was made, and without real reason, (because) the money was there,” Gletow said. “The money was already in the budget.”

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Brianna Kudisch may be reached at bkudisch@njadvancemedia.com.

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