Community members gathered at the Jan. 14 council meeting arguing the move to allow the Bergen County Animal Shelter to handle stray cats, dogs, adoptions and euthanizations contending the latter number of such cases is high. The borough has been working with Protect and Rescue Foundation since 2011.
Compared to the Bergen County Animal Shelter, in 2013 the Protect and Rescue Founda-tion impounded 270 dogs and 133 cats. The Protect and Rescue Foundation did euthanize one dog while 134 dogs and 84 cats were adopted, according to the foundation.
In 2013 the Bergen County Animal Shelter impounded 784 dogs and 1,753 cats. The shelter put down 148 dogs and 638 cats while 320 dogs and 851 cats were adopted, according to the county.
"Upwards of 40 percent of the animals that were taken to that shelter were euthanized," Vince Ascolese, supervising animal control officer at the Protect and Rescue Foundation, said.
Resident Cynthia Bellucci accused the county's shelter of being unprofessional when it came to trapping an animal on her property several years ago.
"I had a skunk at my house and it smelled so bad that me and the officer thought it was a gas leak, it was so bad," Bellucci said. "[The County] took 72 hours to pick up that skunk and that was unacceptable."
Others expressed their support for seeing animals adopted instead of euthanized.
"I have a rescue dog and every time I look at that dog I realize and thank god I got him from a no-kill shelter," said former borough councilwoman Carrol McMorrow.
Board of Health President Diane Clarke defended designating the Bergen County Animal Shelter as the borough's animal control.
"We had two public sessions to discuss this and there were no members of the public there," Clarke said. "This is nothing personal. This is about what is best for the animals. Yes there are some euthanizations but these animals get examined first before that decision."
She said the Bergen County Animal Shelter has a dedicated place to play and exercise with the animals versus keeping them in crates while they wait to be adopted at the Protect and Rescue Foundation.
"They have a track on premises," Clarke said. "We discussed it, we voted and we chose what we feel is right."
The Bergen County Animal Shelter could not be reached for comment by press time.
Despite public outcry, Mayor Joseph Parisi said the council can only recommend the Board of Health revisit the issue because the group is an autonomous body and doesn't have to consider what the council asks.
"We do not control the 'purse strings,' we appropriate certain monies to them," said Borough Attorney E. Carter Corriston. "They are an autonomous body. We do not control them."
Councilwoman Lauren Eastwood recommended Parisi advise the Board of Health to revisit the issue.
"I'm disgusted with the Board of Health's decision," Eastwood said. "I would like to ask them to have another vote at a new meeting that is well publicized so residents can come and make their voice heard."