The animal shelter in Trenton is not currently staffed, leaving more than a dozen animals without access to a veterinarian, after the City Council voted against renewing its vendor’s contract.
City council members voted 4-3 against renewing Trenton Animals Rock’s contract on Thursday. The nonprofit had been operating the shelter under an emergency extension since January, when a previous budget dispute came up. The extension expired March 31.
A locksmith came to the shelter on Friday and changed the locks, preventing staff from accessing the remaining 13 dogs and six cats in the shelter, Trenton Animals Rock’s executive director, Danielle Gletow, said.
She said the majority of the animals were removed from the shelter yesterday, before locks were officially changed. “We’ve pulled out every dog that needed medication or just special handling because we just didn’t trust they would be cared for,” she said.
She also said the mayor’s office told shelter workers someone would come to feed the remaining animals twice on Saturday. Other animal welfare professionals were contracted by Trenton Animals Rock, she said, leading to a loss in some service.
Tim Carroll, a city spokesman, said the city is providing staff to continue services.
“Because of Council’s decision to vote against funding the shelter, the City is losing the expertise of a veterinarian, vet techs, dog cage cleaners, and professionals who provide important services for residents,” he said in a statement provided to NJ Advance Media. “Another example of Council’s inaction having real consequences.”
City Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson, who voted to renew the contract, said she was upset about the outcome of the council’s vote.
“This is not a good situation and all because (four) of my colleagues decided that animals are disposable (and) they chose not to approve the contract,” she said in a statement.
The other six council members did not respond to a request for comment.
Gletow said she’s frustrated with the current situation, since the shelter’s funding had previously been budgeted and the change comes after the council’s vote against renewal. She said she’s also concerned with the urgency to change locks and the lack of a transition plan.
“I don’t understand it and we weren’t given a reason,” said Gletow. “I can’t imagine anybody in the city of Trenton feeling confident in a group that votes no to something and doesn’t have a transition plan.”
Before Trenton Animals Rock entered into its private-public partnership with the city in 2018, the shelter had a 47% kill rate for dogs, there was minimal care for animals, and the space was unclean, Gletow said.
“Our main concern right now is not going backwards,” she said. “We’ve made so much forward progress.”
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Brianna Kudisch may be reached at [email protected].