Last month, residents of the Jersey City luxury building The Beacon were getting concerned about a dog.
A husky had been seen lying on an outside balcony for several days, with no apparent food or water. Photos show the dog lying on a balcony strewn with feces.
“The dog was living in filth,” one resident of the building said. Residents were so concerned that they lowered a dish of water onto the balcony and slid food under a divider for the animal. After the dog was outside for two days, the neighbor called Liberty Humane Society.
But instead of removing the dog, animal control officers from LHS allowed the owner to keep it.
Liberty Humane Society Executive Director Irene Borngraeber said the organization acted appropriately, but a coalition of animal welfare groups throughout Hudson County say the incident illustrates what they describe as the longstanding inadequacy of LHS.
The incident at the Beacon is “just one story of, like, hundreds of stories just like this,” said Anne Mosca, a board member of the cat rescue organization, JerseyCats.
In a series of interviews, the leaders of six Hudson County animal welfare groups said LHS often declines to help injured or sick animals. The organization often requires residents to pay a “surrender fee,” even when they are simply seeking help for abandoned strays and not trying to surrender their own pet, the animal advocates said.
And LHS sometimes leaves traps for animals unattended for long periods at a time, the leaders said, meaning an animal could spend days inside a cage outdoors before being picked up.
LHS has been providing animal control and shelter services to Jersey City since 2017, when the nonprofit was awarded a two-year, $1.2 million contract. The City Council has renewed that contract twice, most recently in May. Jaclyn Fulop, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop’s wife, sits on the organization’s board. Bayonne and Hoboken also have contracts with the nonprofit.
But in interviews and written accounts, more than a half dozen people said the organization was unresponsive to calls and appeared reluctant to help animals in danger or in poor health.
“People give up on calling animal control because they’re not going to be responsive,” said Denise Labowski, a director with rescue group PAD PAWS Rescue. “So they figure, why bother?”
In one account, a person wrote that an animal control officer from LHS declined to help remove a kitten from a sewer, saying that its mother would return to take care of it. Another said that when a kitten was stuck under the hood of a car, an LHS officer suggested leaving a note on the vehicle. Others said that officers appeared hours later than they said they would.
Borngraeber said she was unaware of those specific complaints.
“I would encourage the individuals quoted to contact LHS directly to discuss their concerns and provide additional information needed to document and assess next steps,” she said in an email. “We must work together.”
And she pushed back on