No, it’s not our usual issue campaign on NutleyWatch.com, but I jumped in this week to try to help raise awareness of a terrible situation going on with the Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter, which services 20 municipalities (now thankfully down to 19).
This is a page I’m setting up in a rather big hurry, to provide a place for people to view the ongoing News 12 coverage of the complaints surrounding the Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter, investigated by Walt Kane of “Kane In Your Corner”.
Those of you who follow our primary issue campaign exposing corruption and mismanagement in the Belleville school district should be quite familiar with Mr. Kane and his work. He was kind enough to jump in and provide several investigative reports on Clarity Technologies, the firm that is now in the process of being ousted from the school district.
Depending on your cable provider, many people such as FIOS subscribers do not have access to News 12 New Jersey, nor their website. Here you’ll be able to view the videos we’re able to record from the live broadcasts (assuming we can catch them).
Here is the two-part KIYC investigation, plus the breaking news broadcasts that have followed so far.
All credit for the coverage of course goes to News 12 NJ.
Recent News Updates
It’s 1 AM on Friday Nov 14, and the vet and vet techs have been treating the animals for a few hours now, after they were only allowed back into the facility around 10 PM.
The building had been cleared out earlier in the day, presumably on either the director or the township’s orders, leaving something like 230 malnourished and sickly animals completely unattended. Some of the animals are in such bad shape, that two cats died yesterday while in transit for urgent medical attention. It was simply too late. Then after the NJSPCA and the media left, the shelter was shut down and vacated. It wasn’t until mounting public pressure from hundreds of people late into the evening finally forced the municipal government to take action.
Needless to say, with such deplorable conditions and the lack of food that was present onsite, the motivations and indeed the actual compassion of the current directors toward these animals are certainly in question.
As the workers who were allowed inside the facility spent the night feeding and caring for the starving animals, apparently there wasn’t enough available cat food to go around. They relied on very generous donations to get all of the 167 cats fed for the night. But there isn’t enough food for tomorrow, or beyond.
PLEASE donate both dog and cat food (mostly cat food, dry and canned) to the Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter ASAP. You can drop it off right at the front door. There are hundreds of animals here, and the shelter is in dire need. Please help out in any way you can. If you have any questions, please check out the “Reform Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter Group” on Facebook for the latest updates on this heartbreaking and very desperate situation.
Update (11:30 AM, Nov 14):
The following quote comes from Mr. Walt Kane:
EXCLUSIVE: Massive change in the works at the #Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter. Councilman Christopher Slavicek has been named director of the shelter. Current management remains on staff for now but reports to him. On his orders, vets and political leaders are allowed in to treat animals. Building still closed to general public under quarantine. Helmetta Council met in emergency session to name Slavicek last night. Considering permanent changes. It has jurisdiction and can fix easiest. If it doesn’t, I’m hearing NJSPCA is prepared to act. But state’s only option, “receivership mode”, is essentially a state takeover, a complex process that requires a court ruling and takes time, so town action is greatly preferred. I’ll be live later on News 12 New Jersey
Update (12:30 PM, Nov 14):
Statement from the NJSPCA:
Helmetta Shelter update : Following the Joint NJSPCA / Middlesex County Health Department Operation / Inspection yesterday. MCHD Director returned to the shelter last night after the Helmetta Council held an Emergency Meeting and took control of the shelter. One of the Council Members has been named Interim Executive Director of the shelter and the Veterinarian (twice fired !! for NO reason) was allowed to return to the shelter with Vet Tech and start treating the sick animals there. Several more animals were removed and sent to Veterinary Clinic for treatment. As we move forward both the NJSPCA and the Middlesex County Health Department will continue to work with the Town of Helmetta to ensure compliance. We are far from the end of this story and there are many things being worked on behind the scenes legally. Please right now continue to focus on the animals involved and allow the NJSPCA and the County Health Department continue their work on the complex legal issues involved. The shelter remains under quarentine so no new animals can arrive and no animals (except those being taken for Vet care) can leave this facility. The cats that passed away yesterday were taken to Trenton for Necropsy and after we have those results we will release information. Also today representative from NJ Attorney General’s Office and State Department of Health are at the shelter. I will release more information as things move forward. Capt Yocum
Update (7:10 PM, Nov 15):
Statement from the NJSPCA:
Helmetta Shelter Update 11/15 1910 Hours : Saturday NJSPCA and Middlesex County Health Department onsite today at shelter. New Vet of Record for shelter is Dr. Chiosi DVM a respected Sayreville Veterinarian. Vet Tech’s from Sayreville Veterinary Hospital onsite at shelter this afternoon and evening. Building security issues being addressed and hopeful that very soon animals can be released to qualified rescues after they are certified disease free. Obviously plan needs to include any animal released to be scanned for microchip and photographed so identity can be verified. Donations from the local community far exceeded the needs of the shelter and the excess donated items have been moved to the Helmetta DPW garages. The Helmetta Shelter is still under Quarantine at this time. Two phone call updates today were held with the Middlesex County Health Department. NJSPCA and the Middlesex County Health Department will be back at the shelter tomorrow. Thank you to the dedicated staff and Director of the Middlesex County Health Department. Discussions will continue with the town of Helmetta on the future management of this facility……….The animals right now remain the priority and moving forward the human issues will be addressed…………….Should be an interesting week next week. There will also be some BREAKING NEWS very soon about ANOTHER RAID that JUST occurred that is related to the Helmetta Shelter case, can not disclose those details here but will be released in the very near future. Capt Yocum
Update (7:30 PM, Nov 16):
Statement from the NJSPCA:
Helmetta Shelter Update : Sunday 11/16 1930 Hours
NJSPCA (Capt + 4 Officers) and Middlesex County Health Department (Director and two Inspectors) were again at the shelter this afternoon. Discussed the plan being developed to start releasing animals to 501C3 groups this coming week, there will be a form available soon at the shelter and on the HRAS Facebook page that these groups will need to fill out and return. Once the information (including Vet info) is verified (48 Hours) the group will be able to make an appointment to pick up the animals after they have been Vet checked, certified by HRAS Vet and scanned for Microchip. Local community has been awesome with donations of supplies and support for the animals. My observations today……Disease Control Protocols now in place, kennels clean and fresh water (one pup ready any day to give birth), cat areas cages clean, litter boxes clean and fresh water available. There is much work needed at this facility to make this building a safe haven for animals. Six additional cats had been transported to Vet Hospital for medical treatment (none emergency) Today Councilwoman Bruno was the “Acting Shelter Director” Thank you to the Council for the past several days of cooperation and obviously the joint goal is to continue to make improvements, reduce the animal population through adoptions, fosters and rescue groups and to make this shelter a Regional Shelter once again that cares for and nurtures animals as a temporary haven until animals can be adopted / re-homed NOT leave through the BACKDOOR. NJSPCA Veterinarian submitted all findings from Thursday visit to NJSPCA Command Staff early this afternoon. HRAS Vet of Record returns tomorrow to the shelter to continue assessments of every single animal currently at the shelter, hoping to have 100% of the animals checked by mid week. Legal and Criminal Investigation updates will follow……….Capt Yocum
Update (4:30 PM, Nov 18):
So far 8 townships have pulled out of their contracts with the Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter, leaving 12 townships left.
Unfortunately, management of the facility is in question. No decisive action has been taken by the Mayor or the Council against the directors of the shelter. While the animals are still under quarantine, some continue to die, or require euthanasia.
We’ll continue to stay on top of this horrific and heartbreaking story.
Latest Update (8 PM, Nov 18):
Statement from the NJSPCA:
Helmetta Shelter Update : Tuesday Nov 18th 1950 Hours : Forms for 501c3 to start pulling Vet certified animals from the shelter not yet posted, will follow up on that tomorrow. Two cats who were not responding to the medical care being provided by the shelter Veterinarian and his staff passed in the last 24 hours. There are now 21 dogs at the shelter that have been medically cleared to be pulled and hopefully that can take place Thursday or Friday at the latest. The Acting Shelter Director today was quoted in a newspaper saying NJSPCA told the shelter to post pictures of sick cats and I want to make this perfectly clear, THAT IS NOT TRUE. Please do not let the local political scene distract you from the priority here, the animals. Approx count of dogs and cats at the shelter currently are 167 cats and 45 dogs. We are awaiting the Necropsy results from Trenton on the two cats who passed last Thursday to see if there are any contagious diseases at the shelter within the cat population. I know everyone is anxious to start pulling animals to reduce the shelter population (the RIGHT way) but we need to respect the quarantine and make sure sick animals are not sent out into other rescues or shelters. There continues to be TWO working microchip scanners at the shelter and I believe they are actually being turned on and used !!! As a reminder to everyone here, please be respectful with your posts and disagreeing is NOT being disrespectful. All of the boring legal crap is progressing nicely behind the scenes…………. Capt Yocum
Media Coverage of the Story
These videos below should provide you with the background of the ongoing struggle with the shelter, the nature of the complaints made against it, and why this campaign is so important to virtually anyone who cares about animals.
“Kane In Your Corner” Investigation Part One – Nov 11, 2014
“Kane In Your Corner” Investigation Part Two – Nov 12, 2014
Breaking News of Shelter Raid – Nov 13, 2014
“Kane In Your Corner”: Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter Under Quarantine – Nov 13, 2014
5 PM Evening News Update – Nov 13, 2014
Late Evening News Update – Nov 13, 2014
The Aftermath of the Shelter Raid and Quarantine
“Kane In Your Corner”: NJ Attorney General Investigating the Helmetta Animal Shelter
“Kane In Your Corner”: Interview with Senator Linda Greenstein on Helmetta Shelter Probe
From myCentralJersey.com (Nov 16):
If there is any other important information we should include here, please let us know via the Contact page. I will try to keep the page updated as information comes in.