Helmetta Pound Raided and Locked Down by NJ Authorities

Photo posted on Facebook, described as living and dead kittens in the Helmetta pound's isolation room.
Photo posted on Facebook, described as living and dead kittens in the Helmetta pound’s isolation room.

Authorities have finally taken decisive action to protect the animals suffering at the troubled Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter in NJ.  Tragically, that action came too late for many animals.

Fifteen officers from the NJ SPCA along with a veterinarian and Middlesex County health officials arrived unannounced at the Helmetta pound yesterday to conduct follow up inspections and determine if the facility had been brought into compliance regarding previously issued warnings.  Those issues included mixing sick animals in with healthy ones, animals living in filthy cages, and importing dogs from the south without health clearances.  The pound director reportedly locked the doors upon their arrival, refusing to allow them inside, but ultimately relented.

Inside the facility, officials found 230 animals, mostly cats – the overwhelming majority of whom had no water in their cages.  Some animals were dying:

Three cats and one dog were removed from the shelter because they were in critical condition, [NJ SPCA chief Frank] Rizzo said. One cat died on the way to the veterinarian office in nearby Jamesburg. One animal had to be euthanized at the vet’s office. The animals that died have been taken as evidence, he said.

The county health department placed the pound on quarantine with no animals being allowed in or out until further notice.  The borough was given 24 hours to have a veterinarian assess all the animals, many of whom are sick:

“Disease control is basically nonexistent in this facility, and healthy animals are becoming unhealthy, and sickness just transfers just back and forth, so there’s just a lot of sick animals in that building,” said Rick Yocum, President of the NJ SPCA.

Gee, I wonder why the director initially locked the inspectors out.

In the wake of complaints from animal advocates who have documented neglect at the pound and made their concerns public, two communities have recently terminated their animal control agreements with Helmetta.  Helmetta mayor Nancy Martin hid from the media yesterday but last month, she clearly had zero fucks to give about the animals suffering at the pound:

“We have a vet that comes in two hours a week,” she said. “I don’t understand why people are saying things that are not true, or totally blown out of proportion.”

The mayor will have to address the issue now since there are still many communities who contract with Helmetta for AC services and they will undoubtedly be seeking answers.

Continuing updates are being posted by animal advocates on the Reform Helmetta Regional Animal Shelter page on Facebook.

(Thank you Clarice for the link.)

8 thoughts on “Helmetta Pound Raided and Locked Down by NJ Authorities

  1. Please note this raid occurred the day after News 12 New Jersey showed a two part investigation into the “shelter.” The investigation included the new shelter veterinarian coming forward about the shelter’s treatment of the animals. Interestingly, the Middlesex County Department of Health, which performed inspections, went from saying everything is great to joining the raid. Last August they said:

    Despite the failed inspection, however, the county now is downplaying the inspection findings as shelter and borough officials face increasing heat from concerned citizens.

    “In an Aug. 8 letter sent to Mayor Nancy Martin, a county official said the violations “were not of a serious nature and did not pose a hazard to the animals within the facility.”

    Amazing how media exposure can change someone’s tune.

    1. I hope charges are filed on all involved!


  2. The “shelter” staff do not even know the basics about cat care or more likely they just don’t care. Cats will not eat when their food is near the litter box. Many will not drink when the food and water are close together, but since most had no water, that’s a moot point. I can actually imagine the smell of that litter box and I know anyone in the vicinity would be overwhelmed by the odor. The shelter staff need to be fired and the mayor needs to be recalled. It seems to be a trend that most mayors do not care about animals.


  4. That photo says, “Quick, put some food in the cages, the cops are at the door!”

    I would like to think that every single person complicit in this horror show could be housed for a period of time under similar conditions, but alas, that will not be.

    Hopefully, criminal charges will at least happen. It’s never enough, though.

  5. I have been trying to rescue an african gray parrot that has been at that shelter for 6 months. Animal control took the bird and the cats I’m not home in the owner was taken to the hospital in june. The owner of the bird has not made any effort to contact the shelter com I get the shelter is charging him 25 dollars a night for the bird. I was told they do not have permission to board animal there, and I understand the do not have a permit for exotics.
    last week, I was told that I had permission to take the bird to our sanctuary. I was going to meet the veterinarian who was going to sign off on the bird, and then they’re called the veterinarian and fire jimmy for you to get to the shelter. Today, the new jersey spca declared me as the birds foster, and I was going to go there tonight to pick him up. I called them to let them know I would be picking the bird up, and the shelter director and a council woman told me that I did not have clearance from the Board of Health or the veterinarian. then in some bizarre twist of fate the Board of Health and the veterinarian decided to try to reach the owner and see if he would turn the bird over to our shelter. Incidentally, the owner has a history of mental illness, and when the bird was retrieved in June, the case was referred to aspca for living conditions. In my humble opinion, if the owner has not spoken to the shelter about his bird, and he has not paid his bill, and he has a history of mental illness, and the conditions the bird we’re living in at the time he was retrieved, this bird owner should not have any right to get this bird back. There should be no question about us being able to rescue this bird. He has suffered enough in his life before he got to the shelter, and he has been at the shelter for 6 months. I don’t understand the laws that are supposed to protect these animals. It seems that they protect the people that abused them. Do you have any recommendations for me? Presently I am waiting for spca to obtain a signature from the owner.

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