Editor’s note, 7/8, 5:30 p.m.: This article has been updated with a comment from South Orange Village President Sheena Collum.
Maplewood will enter into a contract with St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, based in Madison, NJ, to provide animal control services for the town beginning August 1.
The announcement came during the public health meeting of the Township Committee meeting on Tuesday. Health Officer Robert Roe said the town had been negotiating with St. Hubert’s, a highly-respected animal shelter and training facility, and the township committee would likely vote on a resolution to approve the contract at the next meeting.
Calling St. Hubert’s “probably the best animal control site in New Jersey” with a “sterling” reputation, Roe said he and other officials were very impressed with what they saw during visits to the center. He singled out the work the facility does with animal training, particularly with abused dogs. “It was amazing to see.”
He continued, “Every type of animal control, rehabilitation, sheltering item — they had it covered,” said Roe, who was “amazed at the professionalism and thoughtfulness in how they ran their shelter.”
The town has been under contract with Associate Humane Services in Newark since January 2015, after the closing of the Jersey Animal Coalition in South Orange. The contract with AHS had provoked a great deal of negative feedback from residents concerned that AHS is not a “no-kill” shelter.
St. Hubert’s website notes that it employs euthanasia as a “last resort” and that “…only animals whose level of aggression makes them too dangerous to offer for placement or those so badly injured or ill that management affording a comfortable quality of life cannot be achieved are humanely euthanized.”
Township committeewoman India Larrier said the contract would run through 2017 but the town would have a 30-day “out clause.” St. Hubert’s will provide its own Animal Control Officer; in addition, they will seek to work with Furry Hearts on the township’s Trap/Neuter/Release program.
Maplewood official have been in discussions with South Orange on working out a shared services regarding animal control. South Orange is still in the process of crafting an RFP to find a new animal control solution, as well as to decide the future of the former JAC building.
“We are still seeking to work out some agreement with South Orange to figure out whether we can work with them on animal control issues,” said Larrier, who added that she didn’t “feel very confident” waiting for that town in the meantime.
“That’ll help with the negotiations,” said Mayor Vic DeLuca, to laughter from the audience.
In response to a question from The Village Green, South Orange Village President Sheena Collum emailed the following statement Wednesday morning: “I met with Mayor DeLuca yesterday morning to discuss several items relating to shared services and better coordination between the two towns moving forward. The future use of [the former JAC building] was one of many items discussed. I certainly support Maplewood’s decision to contract with St. Hubert’s for the immediate time being as South Orange continues its discussions regarding facilities, staffing, shared service agreements, etc. There are a lot of moving pieces and many stakeholders to consider and we will likely have a plan of action by mid-August.”
Township Committeeman Jerry Ryan, who was the only member to vote against the contract with AHS, said the move with St. Hubert’s was a “great thing,” adding that “for every bad thing” said about the Newark shelter “you hear ten things good about St. Hubert’s.”
Roe added that the township will work very closely with St. Hubert’s to “make sure they provide the services we want.”
“Thanks for working so diligently to get a better solution,” said resident Elizabeth Demkin.