AN OPEN LETTER TO NEWARK MAYOR COREY BOOKER ...
Dear Mayor Booker,
I have just read, with much excitement, your post on Facebook about Patrick, the starved Pit Bull. Needless to say, I am thrilled with your interest and involvement in his cause.
Allow me to introduce myself: my name is Lisa Bongiovanni and I am one of the veterinarians of the Associated Humane Society (AHS) in your city, Newark NJ. But my connection to Newark lies much deeper. I was raised and grew up my entire life in the city of Newark, and although years have passed since my family has left, I hold a special place in my heart for the city of my childhood. In fact I continue to follow the city’s politics and I was ecstatic that a man of your caliber had been elected to take over the care of my beloved city. Working at AHS has given me a true sense of coming home.
In reading your post regarding Patrick I need to make one small correction to the facts you have relayed therein. Please be advised that there was NO immediate medical attention given by the City of Newark's Animal Control. Patrick's initial treatment for his severe state of dehydration, hypothermia and starvation came from the Medical Department of the AHS. In fact, our center and staff worked for hours tirelessly to bring Patrick back to life. Once he became responsive to our treatment and his condition was stable, we made the decision to transfer Patrick to a 24 hour intensive care facility to give him the optimum chance at survival. Our decision, in fact, paid off as the wonderful veterinarians and staff at Garden State Veterinary Specialists (GSVS ) in Tinton Falls have continued to care for Patrick and have done a stellar job with Patrick's treatment. I send my deepest thanks to all at GSVS.
But my real reason for writing today is not to take credit away from any other veterinary facility. It is because I read with surprise your intention to establish a new animal shelter in Newark. Although not “state of the art” a shelter does exist in Newark. It is the Associated Humane Society and that shelter does in fact serve the municipalities of Essex and Hudson as well as other counties, and has been doing so for many years. In the few years that I have been at the AHS I have seen many groups initiate and hopelessly fail in their efforts to form associations to help abused and neglected animals. And all the while the administration and staff of AHS have worked tirelessly and thanklessly in their efforts to serve this community. Our efforts have been recently recognized by the Wiederhold Foundation who singled out AHS amongst many applicants by awarding us a substantial grant. With the monies endowed we will buy a mobile veterinary unit to assist us in a program that will go out in the community to offer spays and neuters at low cost (and if possible, even free of charge) with the hopes of decreasing the number of abandoned and abused animals in our City.
Although Patrick's is one of the worst and certainly the most widely publicized case of abuse and neglect, it is most definitely not the first case I have seen come through our doors. This facility has seen numerous cases of neglect, some similar to Patrick’s and some different, but abuse nevertheless. And AHS has successfully treated these animals with no publicity - but with nonetheless the same amount of love and care and medical support. So I ask you Mayor, what is the need for a new shelter? I understand that there is a lot of politics surrounding this topic and I don't pretend to understand it. But I do know that a group of truly dedicated individuals already exists in Newark for the good of the animals. And that this group needs to be supported as they support their community. And that support needs to come from the top.
This is not the forum to discuss such a complicated issue but it may be the perfect forum to initiate contacts between your office and AHS. So with that I ask that you, Mayor Booker, or your staff, reach out to the good people of the Associated Humane Society for the benefit of all involved. I do not intend to address this issue again on Facebook. It is only my intention to open our doors and to invite you in so that our facility and the City of Newark can work together on our mutual cause: to bring awareness and affordable and quality healthcare to all our beloved companions.
Thank you for your attention.
Lisa Bongiovanni DVM
These pictures are proprietary to the Associated Humane Societies/Popcorn Park. No one has the right to use or reproduce these pictures.