NJ County Threatens Caretaker and Her Colony of Cats

Image from the header of the Gloucester Co AC webpage.  The header.
Image from the header of the Gloucester Co AC webpage. The header.

A compassionate person in Gloucester Co, NJ has been feeding community cats on her own property for years.  Sandra Leady has caught many of the cats and had them vaccinated and neutered at her own expense, since the Gloucester Co pound doesn’t do anything for free living cats except kill them.  There are an estimated 18 cats in the colony she’s feeding today.  But a cat hating neighbor recently called animal control to report her and the AC director used Ms. Leady’s kind acts against her:

The medical care she provided made her legally responsible for the animals, according to Gloucester County Animal Shelter Director Bill Lombardi.

After a warning notice from the animal control office, Leady has few options: Build a pen for the feral felines or let the county set cat traps in her yard.

I am not an attorney but does the county have the right to trespass on private property to set traps when the property owner doesn’t consent?  This seems wildly illegal to me.

The reason Ms. Leady is so distraught over the notice is because the Gloucester pound traps community cats, tosses them into cages for a week then kills them.  The director likes to emphasize how humane the whole thing is but it sounds more like torture to me:

Euthanasia is a “humane death” compared to what a feral cat faces in the elements, Lombardi said[.]


The wire cages are set on Sundays and retrieved on Fridays.

This week’s traps were empty, but the shelter’s “feral room,” a death row for wild felines, was full from previous collections.

So a cat trapped on a Sunday would be stuck in the trap, presumably without food, water or shelter from the elements until Friday.  Then left on death row for another seven days at the cat killing facility.  Then, for any lucky survivors, death.  My humane is tingling.

In 2013, the Gloucester Co pound killed roughly 80% of the more than 3500 cats taken in.  And the director wants the legal authority to steal more cats:

Fifteen of the county’s 24 towns have ordinances concerning cat licensing and felines at large. […]

“I’m for cat ordinances,” Lombardi explained. “It gives us a better grip on handling the problem in a lot of towns that have cat problems.”

Punitive legislation does not work.  Making criminals out of compassionate citizens is the opposite of what animal control ought to be doing, especially if they want to reduce the community cat population humanely and protect public health via neuter and vaccination.  But everything is justified because rabies:

“Rabies is the biggest concern and the reason why we trap,” Lombardi said Friday morning.

Rabies.  Because 20 cats have tested positive for rabies in Gloucester Co in the past 26 years.  So it’s an uncontrolled plague basically.  And cats must die.

I guess rabies vaccines for cats must not work in Gloucester Co.  Because if they did, surely the pound wouldn’t be killing cats by the thousands, using rabies as a weak sauce excuse:

“People think we get a kick out of doing this,” Lombardi noted. “It’s very emotional on our employees.”

Cat killer has a sad.  I wonder how “emotional” it is on free living cats forced to suffer in a trap for a week, tossed on death row for another, then injected with poison before they get sent to the landfill.  All of which is needless cruelty, inflicted by those paid to protect animals from harm, when proven alternatives such as TNR are available.  Not that anybody WANTS to kill animals, natch.

In the meantime Ms. Leady, who can not afford to build a pen such as the county is requiring, is worried for the lives of her colony cats:

Animal control officers need her decision soon, or she faces penalties, according to Leady, who claims she has not been informed of the exact penalties she faces.

“I’m an animal lover,” she insisted. “I won’t turn my back on them.

“I don’t care if they put me in jail. I won’t turn my back on an animal.”

Attention Gloucester Co:  This is what the person you pay to “shelter” animals should be saying.

There. I’ve identified your problem Gloucester Co. Fix it.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

30 thoughts on “NJ County Threatens Caretaker and Her Colony of Cats

  1. Shameful, sad, cruel, and ignorant. Hoping she can contact Alley Cat Allies and also Vox Felina for help and for publicity.

  2. Holy shit. I’m pretty sure it would be illegal here to leave an animal in a trap with no food or water or shelter for days on end. Yes, actually, it would. Because cats in my state are classified as “companion animals” and no distinction is made for level of socialization.

    Someone needs to look very closely at this “shelter’s” practices. It sounds as if they are quite illegal. One has to wonder if they bother to give food and water to those held in their “care” as well.

    The whole thing reeks of ignorance and cruelty.

    1. Just when I think I have heard it all, somebody surprises me with new horrors. Trap on Sunday, pick them up on Friday? Unbelievable.
      I hope that the dear woman caring for these cats can find another way to save them. If the cat killers trap them, they will die horrible deaths – nothing humane about it. How can there be so many evil people working with animals?

  3. The image from the “shelter” web site speaks volumes. Leaving cats in traps with no protection and no food/water has got to be illegal! How can we support Ms. Leady and help stop this senseless cruelty & killing?

    1. Just wrote my thoughts on this on the contact page of the aforementioned “shelter”. Maybe if they hear enough, they will reconsider what they are doing.

  4. This is my home area and my local shelter. This is pretty much the shelter that convinced me that the whole ‘shelters don’t WANT to kill’ thing is absolute bullshit. The shelter doesn’t do a single thing right, really. With a better than 80% kill rate for cats, you’d think they’d be doing everything possible to adopt them out. But nope…if you want to declaw, no cat for you. If you’re poor, no cat for you. If you’ve ever had any animal not vaccinated, for any reason (even health related), no cat for you. If you’re going to let the cat outside, no cat for you. But, you know, they totally don’t *want* to kill all the cats they’re refusing owners for.

    They have a policy that requires a full application to be filled out before you can even LOOK at any animal. The website flat out says that the application process is tedious and difficult…but it’s all for the animals!

      1. Here’s the petfinder page: https://www.petfinder.com/pet-search?shelterid=NJ167

        notice this from the application page: We don’t ever mean to be frustrating to or evasive with you. We want you to understand that it’s stressful and upsetting – in fact, downright devastating – for the animals, for our staff, and most importantly, for you when adoptions don’t work out and pets have to come back to us. And a bad adoption experience can sour some people on dogs or cats – or on shelter animals – for life. So try to bear with us and be patient. And understand that going through the process the way we do really is the best policy – for all of us.

        If you have to post something like that, very clearly you are doing something badly wrong. I actually volunteered with this shelter for a short time many years ago, and the woman in charge (not sure if she’s still there) thought any animals were better off dead than in a home. I’m serious…she would deny applications for any reason she could find. I saw a woman in Petsmart looking at supplies for an orphan litter. She didn’t know what she was doing and didn’t really want to be doing it, so another woman who had experience in rescue and fostering offered to take them and hand rear them. The shelter worker, Judy, *insisted* that the first women *had* to turn them into the shelter (where of course they would be killed.) There was zero reason to do that. I also believe they kill any wildlife that comes in.

      2. I’m going to try and contact Sandra Leady and offer any assistance that I can…YesBiscuit, if they contact you, could you pass on my email? (trianglekitty@gmail.com) This is within spitting distance of my home, basically…not sure what I can do, but I’m willing to help with trapping/relocating/building, or whatever would be useful.

      3. The better off dead is a peta mantra – that would be a disaster to have in charge of a “shelter”.

  5. Here is Mr. Lombardi’s response…note the last sentence… looks like the “irresponsible public” is to blame for all the killing, not the people DOING all the killing.

    I appreciate your concerns regarding the cat article. First, I like to say that the traps are checked on daily by my Animal Control Officers sometimes 2-3 times a day due to the extreme heat or cold and they are re-baited and the traps are covered from the weather. The newspaper reporter did not report that in the article. Second, the cats are in a town (Mantua Twp.) that we are contracted with that has ordinances on cats running at large and licenses. They also have a 3 cat limit that a resident can own. County Animal Control has nothing to do with creating or adopting ordinances in the Municipalities. That is up to the elected officials in each town. Gloucester County Animal Control is contracted in all 24 municipalities to uphold their local ordinances. We cannot ignore a complaint regarding cats running at large and unlicensed in a town that has ordinances on cats. I appreciate your concern and do applaud the people that donate and care about animals. But so do my staff and I. We are not the bad people we are the people that cleans up after the irresponsible pet owners that do not spay and neuter their pets.

    1. we are the people that cleans up after the irresponsible pet owners that do not spay and neuter their pets.

      There must be a training manual somewhere, considering how many pound workers across the country use that exact same rhetoric, with only minor variations.

      1. I thought the exact same thing. These are the people who are doing the killing and alienating the very people who can help and want to help. When will animal welfare move into the light?

  6. So if there is a three-cat limit, then how would building a pen for 18 solve the problem? Then they are no longer “free-roaming.” Even if they have a 15-day limit on feeding cats before they become your property, how can they prove it? If you have a pen, they definately can prove it.

    1. They have really backed this poor woman into a corner – she is doing a wonderful job caring for the cats and they are going to get those cats (and her) one way or another. As far as the complaining neighbor, there are things you can do to discourage cats from using your flower beds for litter boxes. And I’m sure it’s not just the community cats doing that. Will she complain about neighbor’s indoor/outdoor cats, too? How many cats will be trapped and killed because of ONE complainer? The whole situation just stinks.

      1. Yes, just one complainer can bring the whole thing down, unless the neighbors somehow talk them out of it. Here, it is legal for cats to roam free, but if it happens to step foot on a disliker’s property, it is legal for that person to trap them and take them to the pound.

  7. Where is the Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey (i.e. the HSUS of NJ)? They should be fighting to get Lombardi fired, but all we hear are crickets. Once again not fulfilling their mission except protecting their shelter director friends.

    “Incorporated in 1995, the AWFNJ acts as a unifying voice for the animal protection community. The AWFNJ advocates on animal welfare legislation; encourages the enforcement of animal cruelty laws; conducts programs to elevate the quality of care for animals; and acts as a resource to help members solve common problems.”


  8. I have seen some great cat enclosures, is there is a gofund me or fund raiser of some sort that might get her one? Or go to the top and try to get Jackson Galaxy interested? I hate that one rotten person can use a rotten organization to persecute a kind woman and her charges. Just not right.

  9. Does anyone know if there is a facebook page/group that is trying to help and obtain support for Sandra with this issue? If you do please provide link.

  10. I am contacting the Lawyers in Defense of Animals here in NJ to see if this is something they may be able to take on. And you are right, the Animal Welfare Federation of NJ is useless. It only continues to support shelter directors who say we have no choice but to kill.

  11. if anyone is in the gloucester county NJ area and is interested in being a part of a facebook advocation for feral cats group, please let me know.

    I am also interested in assembling a group of serious individuals who to work on reforming our county shelter into a no kill facility. http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/shelter-reform/toolkit/

    i heard that help for fencing was offered but the outreach was not responded to, my source of information tells me that the womans husband may not have been supportive with her continuing to feed these cats and take heat for it

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