As an lifelong animal owner and lover, the safety and comfort of the pets (be they canine, feline, bird, fish, reptile or something else) that bring a unique love and happiness to our lives, has always been of concern.
About three years ago, I discovered the dog park in Sewaren, NJ was not in compliance with State regulations, in regarding to ground cover, drainage, and sanitation conditions. After trying to get the Administration of the Mayor of Woodbridge Township, John McCormac, to correct the offending conditions, it became necessary to enlist the aid of the NJ DEP. As a result of the DEP intervention, it was learned the park was built on its current site in violation of state environmental regulation. The DEP also mandated corrective actions to protect this wetlands area.
After over two years of political stalling and maneuvering by the McCormac Administration, little has actually changed at the dog park. Yes, the township has spent lots of money for consultants to work with the township engineers and NJ DEP personnel. And, yes, the current administration continues to say they are getting ever closer to bringing the park into compliance with state regulation. But how close and just how soon the corrections will be made remains unknown.
Certainly, Hurricane Sandy has not helped the situation, or maybe it has. At least the State and Federal environmental agencies are in Sewaren to clean-up the fuel spill in the Arthur Kill waterway. It would be wonderful if the township could avail itself of the talents and monies that come from those agencies to fix the dog park, along with all the other work that must be done in the area.
Sadly, the story of animal care in Woodbridge Township only worsened with Hurricane Sandy!
The Woodbridge Animal Shelter & Pet Adoption Center, arguably a much needed, but poorly located facility (its site is an old pumping station in a flood prone zone), has suffered major damage from the flooding caused by Hurricane Sandy!
The damage is so bad that many, but apparently not all, the animals had to be moved to other facilities. Fortunately, the Woodbridge Veterinary Group, among others, was able to support the Woodbridge Animal Shelter in caring for many of the animals.
The Woodbridge Veterinary Group was original planned to handle the township's animal shelter needs, but owing to politics, it was eschewed in favor of its current operation and location.
While visiting the Woodbridge Animal Shelter & Pet Adoption Center on November 5, with donations, it was heartbreaking to see the loss of equipment and the degree of damage done at the shelter. However, it was even worse to see and video (video not provided with this blog)the conditions at the shelter.
While the staff was doing all they could to clean-up the flood damage with the limited chemicals and equipment at their disposal, that effort appeared to be beyond their capabilities. To make matters worse, there were dogs in caged areas on the first floor were debris was still present. There was no heat and the doors were all open because of the chemical fumes and the need for fresh area. The workers were not wearing HAZMAT clothing or equipment. The type of chemicals being used by these well intentioned, but most likely untrained personnel in HAZMAT remediation practices has to be called into consideration.
It is hoped that all who love and care about animals will lend their support to restoring the shelter. It is also hoped the residents of Woodbridge Township, together with the residents of the other communities that entrust the care of their animals to Woodbridge, under shared service agreements, will demand the Woodbridge shelter be relocated be a safer location. As a minimum, the public should call for the NJ DEP, and any other applicable State agencies, to certify the Woodbridge shelter is structurally sound, fit for purpose, and properly disinfected, before human or animal once again occupy the facility.