Liberty Humane Society has taken over complete animal control services for Jersey City, relieving city employees of the task, as of May 1. The society had already been providing many animal control services after hours.
Paul Bellan Boyer, who serves as the manager for the Division of Animal Control, said the city will retain licensing functions and will oversee the overall operations, but that Liberty Humane will provide hands on services day and night.
The division provides a variety of services related to the well-being of animals and residents who come in contact with them, such as picking up stray or abandoned animals, issuing dog licenses, picking up and disposing of dead animals, and responding to animal nuisance/cruelty complaints.
The Humane Society is a 501 (3) organization created in 1998 to work in partnership with the city to build and manage a state-of-the-art animal shelter. They had operated the Liberty Animal Shelter on Jersey City Boulevard near the Liberty Science Center from November 2004, when management of the shelter was transferred to them by the city, until 2010.
That year the shelter came under scrutiny after inspectors from the state’s Department of Health and Senior Services, along with employees from the city’s Health Department, did an inspection and found violations. Those have long been rectified, according to city officials and the Humane Society, but it led to a shakeup in staffing in 2011.
Better equipped to handle animals than the city is
Liberty Humane Society (LHS) is the only non-profit animal shelter in Hudson County, providing animal sheltering services and animal control/rescue to Jersey City and Hoboken.
According to its website, LHS served 3,186 animals in 2016 and provides extensive adopting and neutering services for homeless pets. Its Wellness Clinic provides low-cost health care to help keep local pets in their homes.
Boyer said the shelter is much better equipped to handle the animal chores than the city, and that it provided a favorable bid when proposals were taken to contract the hands-on operations.
“Now Liberty will provide coverage 24 hours seven days a week.” – Paul Bellan Boyer
Currently, the city pays LHS $48,000 to cover night time duties.
This will not result in layoffs, Boyer said. City workers currently assigned to those duties will be reassigned to other departments, and their vehicles will be refurbished to serve other purposes. The vehicles would be transferred to the city’s Department of Public Works, Boyer said.
Why is this a good deal for the city?
Councilman Michael Yun questioned the move, saying that the city has performed these duties in house in the past, and asked why it would be a benefit to outsource this service now.
“Liberty Humane has the facility and the equipment to do this,” Boyer said. “And they already provide the services at night when our workers cannot.”
Up until the change, the city would respond to calls during working hours, and then calls would be diverted to Liberty Humane at other times.
“Now Liberty will provide coverage 24 hours seven days a week,” he said. “The city health department will oversee vaccinations.”
Issues such as someone being bitten by a dog or other specific health related issues would still fall under the purview of the city’s Health Department
City officials believe the contract would actually reduce the cost to the city overall since employees currently working animal control would be transferred to other duties, filling in vacant positions that the city would otherwise be required to hire people to fill.
The city also had other hidden costs, such as maintenance of vehicles, that make the new contract even more attractive, officials said. LHS would maintain its own vehicles and deal with all of the issues concerning picking up strays or dead animals, as well as housing animals once they have been collected.
“If the city is not happy with the service, there is a provision to allow it to cancel the contract at any time,” Boyer said.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.