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New Brunswick Cuts Ties with Quarantined Animal Shelter

City Government Terminating Contract With Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter
Thomas Loughlin
New Brunswick Business Administrator Thomas Loughlin was at the shelter ten days before an SPCA raid resulted in a quarantine. Charlie Kratovil

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—On November 19, the City of New Brunswick terminated its contract with the Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter.

New Brunswick is following the lead of Spotswood, Monroe, and Sayreville, which have already cut ties with the shelter.

Jennifer Bradshaw, the New Brunswick Public Information Officer provided a statement indicating, “The amount remaining on the contract totals $2,091.25. To date we’ve paid $15,908.75 of the $18,000 contract. We’ve not yet billed for the month of October and the first half of November.”

New Brunswick will be serviced by Blumig Kennels in East Bruswick for the remainder of the year.  A bidding process is already underway for next year's contract.

"Any outstanding balance owed on the contract for services rendered over past months will be paid, but payment for December will not be furnished," reads the statemtn. 

Last week, the Helmetta Shelter was raided by the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NJSPCA).

Following the raid the shelter was put under quarantine, no animals may enter or leave the building.  Two New Brunswick animals, whose owners have been identified, remain in the shelter.

NJSPCA police Chief Frank Rizzo announced in a letter to Helmetta Mayor Nancy Martin that the NJSPCA wants to assume temporary management of the shelter.

In the letter it is stated, “As it relates to the management and operation of the Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter, the community has lost complete confidence in the current Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter management as well as the municipal leaders in the Borough of Helmetta, again, as it pertains to the shelter,"

Also included in the letter is an ultimatum from the NJSPCA to Helmetta officials, the NJSPCA told Helmetta officials that they have 48 hours as of 12:30PM on November 19 to comply with their request, or they will take legal action.

Helmetta has temporarily appointed Matt Crane of Edison as the administrator of the shelter for 30 days, but the NJSPCA stated that his appointment could, “lead to another misstep.”

In the letter it was also stated, “Based on our most recent inspection there is the real potential for numerous animal cruelty charges forthcoming and some of the charges may be against people still involved with the shelter.”

An online petition calling for neglect charges against Helmetta shelter staff has gotten over 1,000 signatures.

On November 17, NJSPCA spokesperson Matt Stanton stated, “We will definitely be filing animal cruelty charges.”

The NJSPCA has the authority to file animal cruelty charges under New Jersey’s Title IV laws, which govern the treatment of livestock, domestic animals, and animals in shelters.

Stanton also stated that the charges would include criminal and civil offenses, and would be filed on the behalf of each animal involved.

Each criminal count could carry a penalty of up to 6 months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or 30 days of community service.

City Administrator Thomas A. Loughlin made an unannounced visit to the shelter on November 3, the third such unannounced visit by city officials, but he reported to City Council that nothing was wrong two days later.

When confronted about this at the November 20 Council meeting, Loughlin replied: “There's thousands of animals at that shelter.  The fact that I did not pick up on the fact that a couple of them were diseased is kind of silly.”

Loughlin also stated, “I am not trained to recognize sick animals.”