An Essex County Superior Court hearing for the case involving the Jersey Animal Coalition’s lawsuit against South Orange Village has been postponed at the request of the township.
Meanwhile, South Orange will likely ask the judge to reinstate the quarantine it had placed on the shelter back in March, said Township Administrator Barry Lewis.
South Orange requested that the hearing originally scheduled for Monday be delayed as the town’s attorney will be out of town, said Lewis. William Strazza, the JAC’s attorney, said he had been notified the hearing is now set to take place August 20.
(The township is represented in the case by attorney Steven Tombalakian. Township attorney Steve Rother has recused himself due to a conflict of interest, said Lewis, who said Rother once represented the JAC.)
A Superior Court Judge ruled Monday to temporarily lift a quarantine on the animal shelter and halt eviction proceedings ordered by South Orange in response to the civil suit filed by Strazza on behalf of JAC President Ruth Perlmutter.
Lewis said Wednesday evening he was “extremely disappointed” in the judge’s ruling and that the documents in the suit contained “inaccuracies” and “glaring omissions.” He continued, “Whether [the errors] are negligent or willful, I have no idea.” For example, he said contrary to its court filing, the JAC never asked the town for an inspection despite repeated letters from him. “That will be shown in court,” he said.
Responding to the JAC’s charge that ringworm was brought into the shelter when the town’s animal control officer dropped off a feral cat, Lewis disputed that but said it was irrelevant as the JAC was aware of the ringworm and did nothing to treat it.
He said during an inspection, a cage where several cats were being kept had a sign warning the animals had ringworm.
“It is unfortunate [the JAC] chose to go this route” by filing the suit, he said.
Meanwhile, the shelter has posted a plea for funds on its Facebook page signed by a trustee that reads, in part:
I am writing because JAC is facing a crisis and needs your help! JAC was closed to the public since March, when one cat with ringworm was dropped off at the shelter by local Animal Control and the ringworm quickly spread to two other cats. This illness has long been cured, and the shelter has received certification from its veterinarian testifying to the health of EVERY animal housed there. Yet, JAC has waited months until just two days ago for approval to reopen our shelter and resume adopting out our pets.
As a result of this long delay, JAC has not been able to offer animals for adoption, even though there is a long list of people waiting eagerly to adopt. During this time of crisis JAC continues to give medical care, food and shelter to its animals that would otherwise be in homes with loving families. Today, JAC’s very existence is threatened due to outstanding veterinary bills and other costs of running the facility.