When our AHS Newark facility received the call to go out to a residence in Newark where roosters were being kept illegally, our Animal Control Officers went out to the residence expecting to find some birds, but found much worse than they could have imagined.
In the backyard of this residence lived several roosters, along with many, many pigeons, and three sickly, emaciated dogs. The conditions were absolutely deplorable ...…. garbage was strewn about the yard, feces from the many birds were piled up everywhere, and there was no proper shelter in sight for the three scared and uncared for dogs. There were a couple of dented, dirty food bowls lying around in the mud. There were two dilapidated dog houses that had no insulation or any means of providing warmth, and a broken dog crate. All of the dogs were kept on heavy, six foot chains. One was chained to a tree while the others were chained tightly to railroad ties. The existence that all of these creatures were living in were not only inhumane, but downright cruel and disgusting.
Our officers approached the scared, mixed breed dogs and while they all seemed very head-shy, they were friendly once they realized that they would not be hurt. All of the dogs were extremely underweight, dirty, and hungry, but the oldest, a 6 year old black female, was quite sick and needed immediate medical attention.
After a lengthy dispute with the owner of these animals, our officers were finally able to bring them to the safety of our AHS Newark facility. Medical examination revealed that the oldest female was suffering with dehydration, dermatitis brought on by malnutrition, an upper respiratory infection, and also had a fever of 104. The younger male and female were also suffering malnutrition.
All of the roosters were sent immediately off to Antler Ridge Sanctuary, and the plan was for all three dogs to stay at our facility while they received medical treatment, and then new homes would be sought out for them. Unfortunately, we were unable to carry out this plan.
When the NJ SPCA was contacted about this incident, our officers were informed that they were already aware of the conditions at the residence. In fact, they had one of their officers out to the property just two days prior, and while they did issue a couple of summonses to the owner, they found the conditions to be in accordance with the law. They instructed the owner to provide adequate dog houses for the dogs. The NJ SPCA Officers also instructed our officers to return the two younger dogs to the owner and after we were done treating the older female, to return her to the owner as well.
Sadly, our officers in AHS Newark are no stranger to incidents such as this. Although we know that these animals are suffering, we know they will live a life of cruelty and neglect, we know that they will be chained back up in the cold without food, water, or even a warm doghouse to retreat to, our hands are tied. It is up to the state law enforcement agency to demand better conditions for these helpless animals and until they do, so many animals will continue to suffer. Until then, animals such as these dogs, will continue to be scared, dirty, sick, starved, and living a life of hell.
In a conversation with this dog owner, he advised us that an agent of the state law enforcement agency stated that we at AHS had no right to take his dogs, and that we are just dog catchers. Although AHS operates under the same anti-cruelty statutes as the state agency, we operate under local ordinances as well. We are not as forgiving of violations of proper shelter as the state agency and our interpretation of what is `proper shelter' is obviously very different than theirs. Now these pathetic dogs will continue to live in isolated loneliness in blustery, cold weather and wait for the kindness of human contact. Since AHS already had them in the warmth and care at our facility, their lives could have taken a different turn. We owe it to these helpless animals to protect them ….. change is needed in order to do that.
UPDATE: Although the NJ SPCA denies ever requesting that AHS return the dogs to the owner, it was the AHS who took them from our very first initial visit. The SPCA had been there before …. and never requested that we remove the dogs. We did this on our own because the situation was below our standards. The AHS has received a call from a spokesperson from the NJ SPCA who now wants to cooperate with us to get the dogs into warm, safe quarters at the Society. The Society's ACOs will go get these dogs who should have been with us when we originally brought them to our shelter. Unfortunately, this is only a TEMPORARY fix to a sad situation. We will meet with the SPCA officers who are unhappy that this matter drew such wide spread negative attention and more specifically to the publicity as to where the blame lies.
We need more than a band-aid to help these dogs. The AHS is a group of professionals who are animal lovers and we resent the term `dog catchers' . We also think it unwise that a professional group as the NJ SPCA who holds themselves up to high standards would tarnish their image by giving unprofessional advice to a person that they are citing for animal cruelty to cast aspersions on AHS.
These professional law enforcement people judged the quality of keeping a dog with a measuring stick … and not by the heart.
We urge the SPCA to ask the court to ban the owner from having dogs.
LATEST: The Society went to the site and was given ONLY ONE DOG. The owner said he gave one dog to a `friend'. So the AHS and/or anyone else has no way to check on the health and care of the dog.