The Jersey Animal Coalition Shelter is refusing to hand over keys to the shelter on Walton Road, according to South Orange Deputy Administrator Adam Loehner.
The shelter had agreed to close its doors permanently on November 11, as confirmed in a release from Ruth Perlmutter, president of the JAC, in October. That agreed-upon date was confirmed at that time by Loehner as well.
In response to a question from The Village Green, Loehner first wrote this morning at 8:15 a.m., “I am expecting the JAC lawyer to bring the keys to the Village today.” At 10:56 a.m., Loehner wrote, “The JAC is refusing to turn the keys over. We are again working with our lawyers to sort this out.”
The shelter had been closed since March after the township issued a quarantine for more than 50 health code violations. After a Superior Court judge ruled to temporarily lift the quarantine in early July, the town and the JAC reached a settlement in principle on August 20 in which the JAC agreed to vacate the premises and South Orange agreed to drop all complaints against the JAC.
When asked for comment about the refusal to hand over the keys, William Strazza, attorney for the JAC, emailed, “The dispute between South Orange and the JAC has been ongoing since March of this year. JAC filed suit against South Orange in July. The case remains active and ongoing. The JAC has been attempting to resolve all claims with South Orange amicably. Therefore, any public comment on the status of the case, the status of ongoing discussions related to amicable resolution, or the like, strike me as inappropriate.”
In October, Perlmutter reported that all animals were “out of the shelter and safe.” Today Beth Platner, a volunteer with Mattie’s Friends, which has been helping place the remaining animals, told The Village Green, “We volunteers are still fostering and boarding the last four dogs and it has been very difficult on all of us, including the poor dogs.”
She continued, “…the dogs are really struggling since losing the only home they have known for years. They have been bounced around from foster home to foster home and are all suffering from anxiety. One Clyde, now has developed serious separation anxiety and is living in the Elizabeth Ann Kennel in Stirling. Mattie’s Friends is paying for boarding, training, and medical care for all of the dogs. We hope we do not run out of funds prior to their finding homes.”
Since the JAC was quarantined in March, the Village has contracted with Associated Humane Societies for “sheltering needs during these proceedings,” Loehner told The Village Green in October. “The Board of Trustees is looking into a variety of option for the future.”