NJ Pound Kills Owned Dogs Upon Impound

Daphne and Rocko cuddling, as pictured on the News 12 website.
Daphne and Rocko cuddling, as pictured on the News 12 website.

When NJ pet owner Jennifer Arteta went on a trip out of the country this month, she left her beloved young dogs Daphne and Rocko in the care of her father.  For reasons unknown, Ms. Arteta’s father left Daphne and Rocko at the Elizabeth Animal Shelter on June 5.

When Ms. Arteta returned from her trip on June 7 and learned what had happened, she immediately went to the pound to reclaim her pets.  Workers denied that the dogs had ever been there.  Ms. Arteta noticed Rocko’s leash and collar at the pound and pressed staff on the issue but they continued to deny any knowledge of the dogs.  Finally, someone admitted the dogs had been killed immediately upon impound on June 5.

NJ state law is clear on the 7 day mandatory holding period required for animals surrendered to pounds:

d. A shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound receiving an animal from a certified animal control officer pursuant to subsection a. of this section, or from any other individual, group, or organization, shall hold the animal for at least seven days before offering it for adoption, or euthanizing, relocating, or sterilizing the animal, except if:

(1)the animal is surrendered voluntarily by its owner to the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound, in which case the provisions of subsection e. of this section shall apply; or

(2)the animal is suspected of being rabid, in which case the provisions of subsection j. of this section shall apply.

e.If a shelter, pound or kennel operating as a shelter or pound is not required to hold an animal for at least seven days pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection d. of this section, the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound:

(1)shall offer the animal for adoption for at least seven days before euthanizing it; or

(2)may transfer the animal to an animal rescue organization facility or a foster home prior to offering it for adoption if such a transfer is determined to be in the best interest of the animal by the shelter, pound, or kennel operating as a shelter or pound.

The Elizabeth Animal Shelter appears to be in clear violation of the law regarding the immediate killings of Daphne and Rocko. The staff presumably knows this and thus the reason for the repeated lies to the owner. And it’s probably why they are hiding from the local media:

Neither the Elizabeth Animal Shelter, the city health department nor the mayor have returned requests for comment.

Ms. Arteta is heartbroken and describes Daphne and Rocko as a bonded pair who were likely scared and confused during their last hours alive.  She has set up a Facebook page seeking justice for her pets and is planning to address the city council regarding the matter tonight.

Let’s all say it together:  Nobody wants to kill animals.  If we haven’t worked in a shelter, we have no right to criticize.  It’s the irresponsible public’s fault that shelters “have to” kill pets.

Now that the bullshit is out of the way, maybe we can have a real conversation about monsters and the evil that is done in the name of the word “shelter” in this country.

(Thanks Arlene and another reader for sending me this story.)

26 thoughts on “NJ Pound Kills Owned Dogs Upon Impound

  1. What the hell?!!! No reason, none, could possibly be good enough for such a blatant act of cruelty and lying to someone about what you did. I hope every single person at that ‘shelter’ (the word just sticks like dirt in my mouth and brain) has nightmares visited upon them forever for the horror they caused to three innocent beings!

    And her father…. that is just beyond awful. I have to assume he has dementia to give him half of a half of a chance to maybe mitigate what he did. If not, well, I wouldn’t be able to speak to him again, ever.

    1. I too was trying to imagine what prompted him to bring the dogs to the pound if (and I have no information one way or the other) it was NOT intended to be an evil act. The only thing I could imagine was that he mistook the place for a boarding facility. I would think the workers would make it crystal clear that they were a pound and the dogs would be killed, not boarded, but who knows?

      1. She said they were her first dogs and that her dad didn’t understand what it meant to take them to the shelter. But she’s also not speaking to him and said she may never speak to him again.

        This shelter not only killed her dogs, it killed her relationship with her father. But hey, nobody wants to kill, right?

      2. It very well could have been a DESPERATE act, not an evil act. Her father is 76 years old, and these were two large, young dogs. Not everyone is equipped to handle that situation, and I think that this is a leading reason that dogs get rehomed – I didn’t understand at the time, but this is just too much dog for me.
        You can start throwing tomatoes now, but I think it would be easy to be overwhelmed in this situation:
        Check- Large – More destructive, harder to handle or restrain.
        Check- Young – More energetic, athletic, and reactive.
        Check- Two – More than twice the work of one large, young dog.
        Worse, I believe that pitbulls require even more dedicated owners *ducks*, because they are bred for certain traits *cough* and need owners who understand them, establish firm boundaries, and are dedicated to providing the outlets and training they need.

      3. Seabrooksr, I get that two large, young, and likely high prey drive dogs are going to be a lot for anyone to deal with, and most likely too much for the average 76-year-old man, but why didn’t he contact his daughter and let her know he was having trouble with the dogs? Maybe there was a friend or another relative or somebody else they could’ve called to help out. Maybe they could’ve scraped together some money to board the dogs. I just don’t get why he would go directly to the pound.

      4. “Worse, I believe that pitbulls require even more dedicated owners *ducks*, because they are bred for certain traits *cough* and need owners who understand them, establish firm boundaries, and are dedicated to providing the outlets and training they need.”

        That is true, but can easily be said of any large terrier. If these were Black Russians, they would need just what you describe. The difference is that the shelter probably wouldn’t have killed Black Russians so readily (despite the large terrier/requires competent handling thing).

        Yes, her dad was probably overwhelmed (it sounds like her family has never had dogs, before) and didn’t know what else to do. Safe to say, he surely did NOT know that the shelter was going to kill his daughter’s dogs.

      5. I dunno mikken, I don’t think the russian terriers would have had a chance at the shelter either.

  2. I read about this case earlier on Animal Cruelty Exposed and visited her webpage. It is evident that the dogs that were killed were beloved companions. This situation goes beyond tragic and I would gladly donate to her legal fund. What governmental agencies ad their least common denominator employees do to animals is reprehensible.

  3. Excruciating to read. Unbearable. The more I read this blog, the more I begin to see that the cruelest of “humans” seem to be working in (and operating) animal shelters. It’s not what we always (blindly) believed. There certainly is a place in hell for these people, and the rest of us can spend eternity making up the violence and murder by tenderly loving the little 4-legged victims in Heaven. But, in the meanwhile…Oh! The grief and pain that lasts a lifetime for the poor humans who lost their babies.

    1. Well, the next time you have to make an emergency trip to the side of a sick relative, I hope you “really” think on how much you “trust” your emergency pet sitter. I hope every moment that you are taking care of someone you love who is very ill, you hold a spark of doubt about what your pet sitter might get up to in your absence, and whether you will return home to living pets at all.

    2. She left them with her FATHER. Who apparently didn’t understand what a shelter really is and what they do.

      And this is a biggie. Because I think it’s safe to say that most of America still thinks of animal shelters are places that take in pet and try to rehome them. They think that animal shelters only kill when they absolutely have to, when there is no other choice. They have no idea that killing is the standard, that adoption comes second. That killing is easy, convenient, and done as casually as pouring a cup of coffee.

      THAT needs to change. Not just the perception, but the reality.

    3. And so-called shelters shouldn’t kill so many healthy/treatable/potentially adoptable animals, especially when doing so is against the law.

  4. Thank you for the warning, Seabrooksr. I just adopted a sweet, gentle, calm, quiet young pitbull who is easy to handle and not destructive at all when he is left at home all day while I’m at work. I worry constantly about him because I read about so many things happening to dogs. I had been looking for dog sitters near my new home in case any situation arose in which I couldn’t get home from work on time and I needed someone to care for him, but after reading what you wrote, I’m now afraid to do that. I have recently read about a few instances of pet sitters harming digs, and you are implying that the risk is even greater than I thought. Do you think my dog would be safe if I hired a licensed, bonded dog sitter, or would I still be risking his life?

    1. If you have the money to hire a licensed, bonded dog sitter and you don’t anticipate any unexpected financially draining emergencies, like, I don’t know, emergency airfare to get to a sick relative, you are probably safe.

    2. Just remember that the most important thing about a REAL pet sitter – someone who makes their living by taking care of other people’s pets – is that they are INSURED! The license thing is often something that a sole proprietor wouldn’t get, either because the cities/towns she might work in don’t require a special license for this kind of work, or the state doesn’t have a licensing standard either (such is the case in Ohio). If the pet sitter is a sole proprietor – it’s just her with no other employees, except maybe an emergency backup who might get called upon only a couple times a year or so – then bonding is also not required, because her INSURANCE would cover her actions within your home and with your pet. Bonding is to cover things if an employee of a business does something wrong – generally stealing is the thing it gets used for – so the employer is covered for the employee’s bad act. If the sole proprietor is accused of something by the pet owner, that’s when the INSURANCE kicks in. Always ask to see a current copy of the pet sitters policy, and feel free to contact the company to make sure it’s up-to-date. And, of course, a professional pet sitter has a real contract, that needs to be filled out with the expectations of how often service will be given, what is involved, and other details about key/code handling, and will get a veterinary release form that states what will be done in a medical emergency – and who pays for treatment (the owner, unless the need was caused by the sitter’s actions). Lastly, get names and contact references of other clients – and ask them a couple good questions, such as “What has X done that impressed you, in caring for your pet, and why?” and “If you had to rely on X for an extended time, would you feel comfortable doing so?”

      I am very proud of the standard of care I provide to my clients and I am always saddened to hear horror stories like this one (friends, family, and neighbors are so much more often the ones I hear about doing a bad job taking care of someone’s pet). While many people think they can trust someone who’s going to ‘watch the dog’ as a favor – i.e. they won’t charge much – the level of care is often not too high on that ‘watcher’s’ list of priorities. I’m not going to fault this poor woman, who trusted the wrong person (who may have also trusted the wrong person) but I hope anyone who reads this can get the information that should go a long way to prevent something bad happening to their pets in the future.

  5. According to the owner (posting she made on the FB page) the “father” called AC before taking them in. He was told they only took in animals on Thursdays. That just so happens to be the day they kill on. They set those dogs up to be killed right away. And apparently, this far from the norm for them. Others are saying it is hard to get anyone to answer the phone, and the doors are locked during posted “open” times. They also refuse to let anyone look at the animals if they have lost one, they will just say “is isn’t there” and consult some sort of notebook.

    I don’t think the dogs being too much to handle is the reason he took them in. The owner was gone at least several weeks from what I have read. He took them in within hours of her coming back to get them. He refuses to talk about it anymore, so only he knows what he was thinking.

    1. He took them to the shelter a couple of days before she came home. He told her the dogs ran away. She posted flyers everywhere and contacted all shelters.

  6. Kate H. – Thank you for the information.
    Seabrooksr – I hope your relative is feeling better now.

  7. I don’t care how many dogs a shelter has, if you are a “shelter” and not a “kill center or animal disposal site” act like one. And if you ARE a kill center or animal disposal operation Say so…….so people can avoid you like the plague!

  8. The point here is, regardless of why the dogs were turned in, the dogs were brought to the shelter on the 5th, and euthanized on the 7th, clearly in violation of the 7 day required hold period.

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