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Jersey Animal Coalition Pressures South Orange to Allow Shelter to Reopen

Amy Kiste Nyberg

Thursday, July 3, 2014 • 10:03am

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – The Jersey Animal Coalition is pressing South Orange officials to allow the shelter to re-open as the village moves to terminate the JAC’s lease agreement with the village.

The attorney for the JAC, William Strazza, produced an affidavit signed by Dr. Michael Santiago, the JAC’s veterinarian of record, stating that all of the animals at the facility are healthy and disease-free.

“South Orange issued its quarantine order due to the presence of ringworm in several animals at the shelter,” Strazza said.  “ … After the discovery of the ringworm, the JAC has vigorously and aggressively treated the issue. That fact is well known to South Orange, yet South Orange has refused to lift the quarantine. In fact, South Orange is in possession of health certificates for all shelter animals, and an affidavit from the shelter vet indicating that the entire facility is disease free.”

Deputy Village Administrator Adam Loehner, however, said that he received no such affidavit until after the eviction notice was served. He also said that there are still more issues that would need to be addressed in order for the shelter to reopen under its current management.

As reported previously, a letter informing Ruth Perlmutter, president of the JAC’s executive board, and Strazza of the eviction was sent June 27 in response to the shelter’s failure to produce financial and personnel records. The JAC has until July 9 to vacate the facility on Walton Avenue.

“In the absence of such curing of the stated defaults, you are hereby notified … that the Township of South Orange Village hereby terminates the Lease and demands that the JAC quit and vacate the premises on or before 4 p.m., Wednesday, July 9, 2014,” the letter reads.

“We’re still very interested in helping the animals at the shelter and getting them adopted,” Loehner said. “It’s the JAC that’s still holding them back. It’s a shame that all these animals that are ready to go are stuck in the shelter.”

Animals remaining once shelter operations are suspended will still be under the ownership of the JAC management, who should work to find proper homes for the animals, according to Loehner.

Strazza said that it is actually the village administration that is hurting the animals in the facility.

“This inexplicable (failure) to act, combined now with South Orange moving to evict the JAC for alleged lease violations, which the JAC flatly denies, amounts to animal cruelty,” he stated.

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