Updated July 26, 2015 to include a comment from Maplewood Township Committeewoman and Board of Health President India Larrier regarding the AHS contract termination.
Correction: Per Becky Burton, St. Hubert’s Vice President of Direct Animal Care & Lifesaving Partnerships, the $50 spay/neuter will only be offered to feral cats in the community.
On Tuesday, July 21, the Maplewood Township Committee officially approved 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 contract will run through 2017 — with a 30-day cancellation clause — at a cost of $71,601 per year. The town will pay St. Hubert’s $29,834 for the balance of 2015.
The contract was approved by a vote of 5-0.
Township Committeewoman India Larrier asked that the contract be pulled out of the consent agenda for a separate vote in order to address some questions that had arisen at the Board of Health meeting on July 7.
“We did have some significant questions that we asked [Health Officer Robert Roe] to find answers to,” said Larrier.
Larrier explained that, according to Roe’s research, there would not be charges to homeowners for the removal of nuisance wildlife — such as bats — unless homeowners have repeated nuisances because they have not taken steps to deal with the problem. Larrier also reported that St. Hubert’s would supply low cost spaying and neutering for feral cats for $50. St. Hubert’s will investigate dog bite situations, quarantine dogs when necessary, and work to schedule court dates. The shelter would also help residents adopt out pets. St. Hubert’s will remove wild life from streets on the weekends.
Manning explained that the town has a separate service for the removal of dead deer that costs about $60 per deer.
St. Hubert’s will also work with Maplewood’s Furry Hearts Rescue organization on the township’s Trap/Neuter/Release program.
Township Administrator Joseph Manning also explained that he spoke with South Orange Administrator Barry Lewis on Tuesday and that the two towns are working on a plan for Maplewood to contract with South Orange to have wildlife removed by South Orange’s animal control officer. Manning explained that the two towns were working to determine if the service would be provided for a flat fee or a cost per incident.
Maplewood officials have been in discussions with South Orange on working out a shared services agreement 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 Jersey Animal Coalition building.
Maplewood’s contract with St. Hubert’s will replace a contract with Associate Humane Services in Newark that the town entered into in January 2015, after the closing of the JAC 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.
Earlier this month, The Village Green learned that it was AHS that cancelled the contract with Maplewood because the organization could only work “with municipalities that support our operation.” AHS Assistant Director Scott Crawford alleged that Maplewood officials made negative statements about AHS in public “to cover and save their own faces,” while in private attempting to convince the shelter to continue serving the town.
Maplewood Township Committeewoman and Board of Health President India Larrier told Village Green that while AHS’s decision was “disappointing,” there were no “ill feelings.” Larrier added, “However, things happen for a reason, and I believe St. Hubert’s will be a great for for us.”
St. Hubert’s will also provide its own Animal Control Officer. At the July 21 Township Committee meeting, Kathy Hernandez, union representative for Communication Workers of America Local 1031, asked that the town ask St. Hubert’s to hire former Maplewood ACO Debbie Hadu.
Maplewood resident Linda Eckhardt also asked that Hadu be hired by St. Hubert’s, saying, “She’s a national treasure. Let’s get Debbie back on the payroll.”