Cancel the Contract!

To the Editor:

At the last council meeting a former provider was awarded an animal-control contract with the city of Bayonne. This contract was put out for bid in response to residential complaints of wildlife. According to the state, the removal of nuisance wildlife from public property is not a municipal animal-control function, and was not included in Liberty Humane Society’s original contract.
By switching providers, pet owners may experience significant changes in service. The care of the animals has drawn many concerns from animal-welfare professionals, leaving the rest of us to question what are we really saving.
As a result of our council’s decision to switch providers, there will be significant changes that may affect pet owners. If your pet is lost, you will have to travel outside the county to retrieve him or her, presumably in Lodi. There has been no information provided as to public hours in which residents can view the animals or retrieve their lost pet. If there’s an injured animal, the response time for animal control will more than double.
Many in the animal-welfare profession have concerns about ability to house and care for these animals. LHS is a state-licensed, nonprofit animal shelter. Open six days a week, the facility is subject to random inspections and adheres to strict guidelines outlined by the state. With 16 employees and more than 100 active volunteers, they are adequately staffed to meet the needs of our community. LHS also has an effective adoption process. As confirmed by council’s own testimony, not one member of the administration has inspected the new facility. For all we know, these animals could be housed in the basement of a veterinarian’s office. The public was not provided with employee/volunteer information either. As they serve twice the workload of LHS we can only pray that they have adequate staff to ensure the health and welfare of these animals. The state mandated, seven-day stray hold protects your pets for one week. After the state requirement is met, what will happen to these unclaimed pets?
Our Business Administrator projected a financial savings of $5,500. However, the loss of additional services provided outside the municipal contract specifications exceeds that savings figure. Last year LHS accepted a number of owner surrenders from Bayonne residents. LHS offered additional programs and services to Bayonne such as a grant to fund spay/neuter assistance with feral and owned cats in Bayonne. They held low-cost public pet wellness clinics every week out of their facility. They also removed numerous animals from three different hoarding situations in Bayonne, provided medical care, and adopted them out into new homes.
In addition to these concerns there are problems both morally and ethically in the philosophy of this decision by our elected officials. The council has indicated that they believe that trapping and euthanizing healthy indigenous wildlife on private property is an acceptable practice. Also the council’s unanimous decision ultimately suggests taxpayers should subsidize the cost of discretionary private services. I believe their intent was to solve a problem, but I want them to understand that they are creating an even bigger one. Assuming that the contract was properly bid and drafted, there should be a cancellation clause. I am calling on the council to review my letter, seek the advice of the experts and professionals, and work with the public to come up with a better strategy. With proper notice, this contract could be voided and re-procured.

Army Veteran

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