Authorities have finally taken decisive action to protect the animals suffering at the troubled Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter in NJ. Tragically, that action came too late for many animals.
Fifteen officers from the NJ SPCA along with a veterinarian and Middlesex County health officials arrived unannounced at the Helmetta pound yesterday to conduct follow up inspections and determine if the facility had been brought into compliance regarding previously issued warnings. Those issues included mixing sick animals in with healthy ones, animals living in filthy cages, and importing dogs from the south without health clearances. The pound director reportedly locked the doors upon their arrival, refusing to allow them inside, but ultimately relented.
Inside the facility, officials found 230 animals, mostly cats – the overwhelming majority of whom had no water in their cages. Some animals were dying:
Three cats and one dog were removed from the shelter because they were in critical condition, [NJ SPCA chief Frank] Rizzo said. One cat died on the way to the veterinarian office in nearby Jamesburg. One animal had to be euthanized at the vet’s office. The animals that died have been taken as evidence, he said.
The county health department placed the pound on quarantine with no animals being allowed in or out until further notice. The borough was given 24 hours to have a veterinarian assess all the animals, many of whom are sick:
“Disease control is basically nonexistent in this facility, and healthy animals are becoming unhealthy, and sickness just transfers just back and forth, so there’s just a lot of sick animals in that building,” said Rick Yocum, President of the NJ SPCA.
Gee, I wonder why the director initially locked the inspectors out.
In the wake of complaints from animal advocates who have documented neglect at the pound and made their concerns public, two communities have recently terminated their animal control agreements with Helmetta. Helmetta mayor Nancy Martin hid from the media yesterday but last month, she clearly had zero fucks to give about the animals suffering at the pound:
“We have a vet that comes in two hours a week,” she said. “I don’t understand why people are saying things that are not true, or totally blown out of proportion.”
The mayor will have to address the issue now since there are still many communities who contract with Helmetta for AC services and they will undoubtedly be seeking answers.
Continuing updates are being posted by animal advocates on the Reform Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter page on Facebook.
(Thank you Clarice for the link.)