The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services is investigating a Newark shelter which houses hundreds of dogs and cats for leaving animals in filthy cages and not properly treating sick animals.
Inspectors found the violations during two surprise inspections in July and August at the Associated Humane Society of Newark, on the 100 block of Evergreen Avenue. See the inspection records here and here.
But facility officials said the findings weren't fair.
“Nobody is here between six o’clock at night and nine in the morning," said the shelter’s manager Denton Infield. “The dogs have run inside and outside the kennel, we can't tell them where to defecate."
NBC New York was given full access to the shelter when we showed up unannounced to find out why the shelter was being cited for neglecting animals, but what we found was a shelter that was spic and span with animals that did not seem distressed.
The shelter we toured was in sharp contrast to the one documented and photographed by New Jersey Health officials.
So what happened?
Infield said the inspectors came in the morning before his staff started to clean -- he says it’s impossible for the shelter to stay staffed 24 hours a day.
Newark Animal Shelter Collects Violations
“We are a nonprofit organization, we're battling to keep the staffers we got,” said Infield. “We cover 30 towns, we're getting an average of 15 to 20 dogs a day from Newark alone. We get about 30 cats a day."
We showed the inspection reports and photos to veterinarian Dr. Lawrence Putter.
“Having feces around lots of diseases, parasites bacteria. Animals can re-infect themselves and other animals," said Dr. Putter.
The Health department received complaints about the shelter, which sparked the investigation. Many of the violations they found far exceeded dirty kennels. On several occasions inspectors found animals were euthanized prior to the mandated seven-day holding period (Documentation errors on the part of a veterinarian technician, according to Infield).
The shelter did pass an inspection by city of Newark, and this week met again with state health inspectors.
According to a health department spokesperson many of the violations are being rectified but the shelter will likely receive another surprise inspection before the investigation is concluded.
If the state finds new or repeated violations the shelter could be fined. Fines the shelter says they do not have the funds to cover and which ultimately could force it to close.
“They would have serious problems,” said Infield. “I don't know where the state would put all these dogs that are running around loose in the streets."