Animal lovers, many affiliated with the Liberty Humane Society, wanted the Bayonne Council to understand that they are completely against the city using a new animal control provider.
Before the meeting started, a protest against Geoff’s Santini’s New Jersey Animal Control and Rescue was hosted in front of City Hall.
The movement was spearhead by Peter Franco, a longtime nemesis of the Mayor Jimmy Davis administration, and Irene Borngraeber, the executive director of the Liberty Humane Society – the former animal control provider.
The new $87,500 contract was approved at the council’s November 10th meeting, though Franco and Borngraeber both argued that the contract was deficient when addressing the board.
Several other residents also expressed their dissatisfaction with Bayonne leaving behind LHS, including Heather Sheppard.
Additionally, several speakers also had an issue with NJACR using Cliffside Park’s Bergen County Protect and Rescue, given that the founder of the facility, Vincent Ascolese – Santini’s brother-in-law – is facing animal cruelty charges for allegedly slicing a baby deer’s throat (h/t NJ Advance Media).
Vision Media’s Paul Swibinski, who represents NJACR, the Township of North Bergen and various other Hudson County agencies, took the podium to the chagrin of the crowd – who quickly began to berate him.
Swibinski continued on as protesters began to walk out of the meeting during his speech, citing that Santini’s 23-year track record is unblemished and it is unfair to condemn him using guilty by association arguments.
3rd Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa threw a curveball by asking the council to rescind the contract to NJACR, noting that they are already contracted by nine other municipalities and stating his issues with their affiliated animal shelters in Lodi and Cliffside Park.
La Pelusa also expressed an interest in working with LHS in the future, but at the end of the day, the rest of the council didn’t bite and no further action on the matter was taken at the meeting.