After years of complaints and an increasingly fraught relationship with the city, Liberty Humane Society announced on Wednesday that it will close permanently.
“The abrupt ending to our animal control agreement left LHS unable to appropriately fund or manage Jersey City’s animal sheltering program and facility” said LHS in an email. The city, it said, will take over their work at its Jersey City Boulevard facility on January 1.
In recent years, LHS, founded in 2004, fell out of favor with some residents and officials. A group of volunteers who worked to spay and neuter feral cats claimed the shelter had banned them from using services for purported violations of unwritten “guidelines” and that LHS often failed to adequately respond when asked to assist them with their work.
When the City Council took up the renewal of LHS’s $1.3 million two-year contract last year, councilmembers Richard Boggiano and Frank Gilmore questioned the quality of the group’s service. The Jersey Journal reported this week that an August letter from City Health Officer Paul Bellan-Boyer to LHS Executive Director Irene Borngraeber listed issues where LHS was falling short including reporting to the city and a failure to respond to resident complaints.
In a strongly worded statement yesterday, the city confirmed the termination. “We are making the change in response to Liberty Humane Society’s continued deficiencies in meeting contractual obligations to provide adequate animal control services, coupled with the increasing amount of public complaints about LHS service. Anyone who has interacted with LHS in the last several years would attest to LHS’s unresponsiveness and disregard for the City’s and the public’s concerns.”
With more than 150 animals in need of permanent homes, rescue transfer, or barn placement, LHS said it would waive fees on all large dogs and adult cats from October 21 through October 28th. It asked those interested in adopting to visit its website to see the animals and arrange for an appointment.
Apparently, the termination of the contract does not mean the end of LHS. The group said it would transition to “an animal welfare organization focused on preventative veterinary care.” It would, the statement said, become “an affordable low-cost animal health services facility in Jersey City” and offer spay/neuter and wellness services for pet owners beginning in 2024.