Kane In Your Corner: NJSPCA charges East Orange animal shelter

The New Jersey SPCA has charged the East Orange Animal Shelter with a variety of violations.

The New Jersey SPCA has charged the East Orange Animal Shelter with a variety of violations. (1/11/16)

EAST ORANGE - The NJSPCA has filed 44 criminal and civil violations in connection with the city’s troubled animal shelter, which was the subject of a Kane In Your Corner investigation last summer.

The NJSPCA filed the summonses with East Orange Health Director Rochelle Evans Monday afternoon. The violations involve failure to provide animals with food and water. Sources tell Kane In Your Corner that they stem from an unsatisfactory state inspection.

Last summer, Kane In Your Corner exposed poor conditions at the shelter, and also investigated what some call a potential conflict of interest. The East Orange Health Department not only operates the shelter, but also is the primary agency in charge of enforcing whether the facility obeys state laws and health codes.

Animal rescue groups have also long complained about lack of access. The shelter is only open to the public for two hours a day, but visitors say they are often denied access even during those times. Kathy Yates, a member of an East Orange animal rescue group, describes one encounter with a staff member who refused to let her in. “I said, ‘how can you adopt a dog out if you’re not letting anyone in?’” Yates says. “And he said ‘you people cause us trouble.’”

Some also question why the shelter’s veterinarian, Dr. Kimani Griffith, is still on the job. After Kane In Your Corner’s investigation last summer, Griffith announced he would resign, saying, “I probably got a little in over my head.” Five months later, he’s still there. Griffith says the city has yet to hire anyone to replace him and that he did not want to abandon the animals.

East Orange spokesperson Connie Jackson declined to comment on the violations, but says the city has been working with the state to comply with guidelines.

As for what should be done with the shelter in the future, Yates says she and other animal rescue groups are willing to take it over and operate it under the existing annual budget. She says she plans to make that proposal to the East Orange City Council in the near future.

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