This past Monday, 20 animals in various states of decomposition were found in an empty lot along Paterson Plank Road in North Bergen.
The discovery came a week after local health officials revealed that someone has been dumping domestic and wild animals throughout the township, as many as 20 per week.
Officials have speculated that the source is a person who has a contract to pick up animals from another town. Rather than delivering them to a shelter or incinerating the carcasses, they may be saving money by dumping them in North Bergen.
On Monday, the animals discovered in the lot included sheep, chicken, opossums, and perhaps more disturbing, dogs and cats.
According to Denton Infield, the general manager for Newark’s Associated Humane Society, a television news station was in an empty lot in Paterson Plank Road on Monday shooting a segment on the recent trend when they happened to stumble upon the dead animals.
Infield said that his shelter has been phoned several times since February by North Bergen officials to pick up dumped animal carcasses at the empty lot around 2100 Paterson Plank Road.
North Bergen, as well as other Hudson County municipalities, holds a contract with the Newark AHS to pick up stray and dead animals. For a few years, the township contracted with the Hudson County Society for the Protection of Cruelty of Animals in Jersey City, but that shelter was shut down last year due to health violations.
Several of the towns using that shelter have had to find an alternate means of animal control since then. Newark is one of the few shelters in the area.
Infield said that in his seven years as a manager of his shelter, he has never seen so many animals being dumped on quiet streets and lots in North Bergen.
While the vast majority of the animals have been found already in the rigor mortis state, his agency has also been called to respond to abandoned dogs tied to fences.
Infield said that the animals found along Paterson Plank Road last week were “very decomposed.”
He said that the chicken and sheep were in a state of advanced decomposition, while the dogs and the cats had no markings but were “swollen” from being in the sun.
Due to their state, Infield said he was unsure of what their health was before their death.
“I don’t know why North Bergen is getting so many animals.” – Denton Infield
“I can’t put my finger on it,” said Infield. “I don’t know why North Bergen is getting so many animals. It must be coming from somewhere.”
Infield has filed complaints with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.
In addition, North Bergen Health Director Richard Censullo (who is also the health director for Union City) confirmed two weeks ago that the township is also investigating the recent trend. However, Censullo also said two weeks ago that his office could not comment on the matter because of the ongoing investigation. This past week, he did not return phone calls to the Reporter.
Residents voice concerns
Infield said that residents have called in the past week promising that they would keep their eyes out for the culprit. He said that since the media have publicized the issue, fewer animals have been dumped.
“Some one has definitely seen [the media coverage] and has been very precautious,” said Infield.
Before last week, the Newark AHS was responding to about 20 animal carcasses per week in North Bergen, he said.
Tricia Tirella may be reached at TriciaT@hudsonreporter.com.