April 8, 2022
Story by: Michael Ranallo, and is also a TAR Board member
Photos and video by: Brian McCarthy
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–On Thursday April 7, 2022, Trenton City Council voted 4-3 to cut $375,000 in funding for Trenton Animals Rock, the organization that has been managing day to day operations at the Trenton Animal shelter since September, 2021. The contract was up for a renewal through next April.
Councilpersons Kathy McBride, Sonya Wilkins, Santiago Rodriguez, and Robin Vaughn voting against.
According to the City of Trenton, the Department of Public Works will assume responsibility.
Trenton Animals Rock was locked out of the building (the city changed the locks) today via an email from Council President Kathy McBride and Edward Kologi, the email stated:
“The Council President has directed me to contact you and Mr. Cruz regarding Trenton Animals Rock. In light of Council’s action last evening not to renew their contract, they should be compelled to vacate the premises forthwith. Additionally, any supplies, equipment, fixtures or anything else provided by the City during their tenure should remain on the premises and be accounted for. Please ensure Dr. Cruz and any other appropriate individuals take necessary action to effectuate the foregoing. Thank you.”
Trenton Animals Rock was then forced to vacate the premises at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 8. There was no advance notice provided for the locks being changed.
This vote puts the shelters recently acquired no-kill status in jeopardy Before the involvement of Trenton Animals Rock the kill rate of the Trenton Municipal Shelter was 47%. Trenton Animals Rock was responsible for the shelter being designated a no-kill facility.
The no-kill status of the shelter is a reason many Trenton residents felt safe relinquishing ownership of their pets to Trenton Animals Rock. Knowing the animal would be placed into a safe, caring environment while awaiting a new, loving home lent a feeling of security and lessened the already stressful decision to give up their dog.
This decision effectively removed Trenton Animals Rock from their position of not only the day-to-day operational responsibility but the value-added community outreach that was also provided.
No charge medical support, foster and adoption services and training services to injured, abused, and abandoned dogs in Trenton were only part of the services provided free to residents. The cost of these services is well upwards of $300,000 a year.
Trenton Animals Rock was a resource for underprivileged residents to rely on for low cost to free medical services, vaccinations, food, toys, and advice that was all provided under the umbrella of managing the shelter.
Through massive fundraising efforts Trenton Animals Rock was able to fund medical care and surgery for injured or abused dogs that amounts to thousands and thousands of dollars for each instance at no cost to Trenton residents.
Because of this decision Trenton is losing the services of a veterinarian, vet technicians, dog cage cleaners, and professionals who provide important services for residents.
Trenton residents and Trenton Animals Rock associates gathered at the Trenton Animal Shelter and expressed support and offered to foster dogs and get them out of the shelter. Many of the dogs were fostered out today but some remain, and their status is unknown.
Councilman Joe Harrison (who voted to continue the funding) was the only Trenton Councilperson to appear at the shelter today to support Trenton Animals Rock.
A possible option is that Mayor Reed Gusciora make an Executive Order to keep the relationship intact. This would need a supermajority of Council to defeat which would be 5 of 7 votes and that is not likely to happen but that is up to the Mayor.
Trenton Animals Rock maintains a positive attitude and believes more pragmatic heads will prevail and realize the cost benefit of maintaining this relationship will be obvious to the Administration.