Thursday, April 24, 2014

Village Administrator: Jersey Animal Coalition Breached Lease

The Jersey Animal Coalition (JAC) is breaching their lease with the Townships of Maplewood and South Orange Village, according to a letter sent by Village Administrator Barry R. Lewis, Jr to Ruth Perlmutter, who is the founder and president of JAC.

"JAC is in breach of the Lease as the Township of South Orange Village is unable to bring its strays to the JAC facility", Lewis wrote. "The result is that the village is incurring expenses to bring strays to Associated Humane Society (in Newark) as an alternative". The letter continued to say that "the Village will look to the JAC for reimbursement for all additional costs and expenses that the Village is incurring during this closure".

In the letter, Lewis also requested that Perlmutter provide the Village with a current copy of JAC's fee schedule, proof that the shelter is "competent to care" for the animals, proof that the shelter is licensed by the state, proof that the shelter is in compliance with state and village licensing requirements, certificate with proof of workers' compensation insurance, proof of fire and extended coverage, proof of liability insurance, and certified financial statements from the last three years in order for JAC to be reissued a license to operate the shelter.

In addition, according to a notice issued on April 21 by South Orange Code Enforcement and Inspections director Anthony Grenci, JAC is in violation of the New Jersey State Uniform Construction Code Act. The notice said that JAC installed a shed without a building permit or zoning approval, and will not be issued a certificate of occupancy or approval until the violation is corrected. Plus, JAC must pay a fine of $2000.

Another letter was sent by South Orange Village health officer John Festa to Dr. Michael Santiago, the JAC Veterinarian of Record on the same day. Festa told Dr. Santiago that the shelter is under quarantine because of an order by the South Orange Department of Health, but is closed because of an unsatisfactory rating given to the shelter after an inspection by the village and state health departments. Festa explained this by saying that even if the quarantine was lifted, the shelter would remain closed until the shelter receives a conditional or satisfactory ranking during a re-inspection.

Festa said that in order for the quarantine to be lifted, JAC must have cats who were showing signs of ringworm tested to confirm whether or not any of the cats have the disease. In the tests show that any of the cats are infected with ringworm, proper written isolation and treatment protocols must be prescribed and supervised by the veterinarian of record. In addition, the veterinarian of record must "create and maintain documentation on daily treatment logs, of the medication that the animals are receiving, including the prescription and instructions for the use of the medication and duration of treatment as described by the veterinarian. Such records must be created for each of the animals determined to have ringworm".

The letter also said that at the time of the inspection, there were no written disease prevention protocols, disinfection procedures, or healthcare programs for each animal, "all of which are required to be created, maintained and supervised by the Vet of Record". Plus, Festa wrote that "it is noted that the entire facility shares a ventilation system, and that bedding for animals throughout the facility was supplied from the laundry room where the suspected ringworm infected cats were housed. Thus, every animal in the entire facility will require treatment as they have been exposed".

According to the letter, other requirements needed for the quarantine to be lifted include that the staff members must have received in service training and are following the orders of Dr. Santiago, carpeted cat furniture in the cat rooms must be disposed of and replaced with nonporous furniture, all bedding must be disinfected, the entire facility and all enclosures must be decontaminated, and an isolation room must be created solely for the purpose of holding animals with signs of communicable disease. In addition, staff members should wash their hands thoroughly after handling animals in the isolation rooms.

In the letter, Festa told Dr. Santiago that when the village does lift the quarantine, it will only be on a conditional basis, and he would be expected to provide monthly reports regarding the progress being made to implement the issues listed above. Festa concluded his letter by telling Dr. Santiago that "the Village expects you, as vet of record, to create, facilitate, supervise, and certify. Many of these requirements will require you to be onsite and hands on, and cannot be fulfilled remotely".    

The violations and letters were obtained after a public records request was filed by Nancy Schetelick, a former JAC volunteer coordinator.