LETTER: Bayonne has shown a lack of concern for animal welfare, resident says


In a letter to the editor, a Bayonne resident expresses her discontent with what she believes to be a lack of concern for animal welfare from the city, judging by the recent circus visit as well as the city’s animal control provider of choice. Bayonne animal protest

Dear Editor,

Due to public outcry over animal welfare concerns, companies such as Ringling Brothers and Sea World have agreed to gradually phase out the usage of elephants and orcas, respectively, in their shows.

They seem to recognize the public’s changing attitude towards animals featured as entertainment. Whether their willingness to change comes from a loss of profits or scientific enlightenment, the animals still benefit, and this is progress.

If only progress addressing animal welfare concerns could be made in Bayonne as well. The Bayonne City Council welcomed the Garden Brothers Circus to town this weekend. Many cities around the country no longer welcome circuses with performing animals, especially elephants, but Bayonne takes no such stance.

This comes on the heels of the Council’s decision in Fall 2015 to cancel the animal sheltering and control contract with Liberty Humane Society of Jersey City, which was building a solid relationship with the community of Bayonne.

Despite the pleadings of concerned citizens, Bayonne moved forward to grant the contract to Geoffrey Santini, who does not operate a licensed animal shelter.

Mr. Santini sub-contracts with a facility run by his brother-in-law, Vincent Ascolese, who currently has animal cruelty charges pending against him for alleged mistreatment of animals at the facility he used to manage.

Mr. Santini has often pointed to the fact that the shelter he uses, Bergen County Protection and Rescue, is a no-kill facility. This is questionable when one considers the fact that Bergen County Protection and Rescue only has the capacity for roughly 40-45 cats and 40 dogs.

While Liberty Humane Society had the Bayonne contract, they took in roughly 440 animals from the city of Bayonne. How would Mr. Santini be able to accommodate a no-kill philosophy when he services more than one community? This sounds like a recipe for an overcrowded shelter.

Imagine the poor welfare issues that could arise if staffing and capacity are insufficient for the no-kill goal. Liberty Humane Society provided numerous services to Bayonne residents during their contract.

Through their Pet Owner Assistance Program, they helped low-income families hold on to their animals, provided low cost vet care through their weekly wellness clinic, held adoption events for cats and dogs at Bayonne Barks down 16th street park, and gave school presentations on humane education, which fulfills goals of New Jersey humane education laws.

Hopefully, the Bayonne City Council will heed the public’s concern and return the contract to Liberty Humane Society so that they can properly remedy local animal welfare issues.


Denise A. Scholz

Bayonne Resident


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  1. The circus is and was monitored by animal control with surprise visits to make sure the animals were safe and as far as the animal contract Mr Santini has been doing an exceptional job it seems the only one complaining is you

  2. There have been numerous complaints about the animal control group that is now under contract in Bayonne. They are exceptional for their absence in matters that concern residents. Their reputation precedes them, and it’s not a good one. They slithered in on the Bayonne contract under very questionable circumstances and obvious political connections. Their published statements about their physical properties, capabilities, capacity and ability to respond in a timely manner are all manufactured b.s.. Suprise visits to the circus to check on the animals welfare several times? Can that be backed up with evidence of a report for the public? …I doubt it. The Bayonne City Council has wasted the taxpayer’s money with Santini & Crew.

  3. Mr. Santini is a joke. As a Bayonne resident I know for a fact his response time is 12 hr on calls of injured and dead animals. He has picked up several feral cats and everyone knows they are not taken into shelters and are killed. He keeps poor records per my OPRA request on animal intake and from what location. He and his staff are rude to residents. He refused to speak to residents when he was given the contract. His contract was nothing more than a political favor. What happened to the possum thst was injured and crying in pain and took him 12 hrs to show up?? He is a piece of crap and needs to go!

  4. It seems quite clear that the younger generation has gotten the message that it is high time to leave circuses that use animals in the history books. Libbie Kirkpatrick, a teenager from Union Township, succinctly describes the suffering experienced by elephants and other wild animals in circuses. Here is a link to her amazing article. http://www.nj.com/hunterdon-county-democrat/index.ssf/2015/06/public_pressure_needed_to_stop_circus_animal_abuse.html

  5. Wow Kathleen Calling Someone A Piece of crap very lady like!!!! Geoff has kids and that’s how you to refer to their father!! I’m sure you have no manners but let’s keep comments like that to yourself!!!!!

    • Geoff? You sound like bffs, hence your reply as the only supportive one of this person. You are, obviously, a friend of his and, therefore, really do not have an objective or worthwhile opinion in this matter.

  6. Quite honestly, many people are complaining. If the letter writer identified as Penny had attended the Animal Shelter contract hearing in Bayonne, she would have seen over 80 residents in attendance, all voicing protests. They were ignored by the city council.

    One is judged by the company they keep, and Mr. Santini has made a career in tandem with his brother-in-law, Vince Ascolese. Mr. Ascolese, after months of legal delays, plead guilty to animal cruelty charges on March 29th, 2016.

    Mr. Ascolese claims to run a no-kill shelter, but any animal deemed unadoptable is immediately disposed of by his veterinarian, never making it to the facility. Compare that with LHS, which goes out of their way to rehabilitate animals. Volunteers transport cats and dogs to veterinarians who go out of their way to make sure that these animals have a fighting chance.

    Animal control in Bayonne increased dramatically when LHS received the contract. Lost animals were reunited with their families, outreach events saw great adoption efforts, and there was a lot of community education. Compare that with Mr. Santini, who claims that a car is on-site during business hours. This has proven not to be true by the many people who have called and posted on facebook’s Bayonne groups about the lack of responsiveness.

    So what is this “exceptional job” that Mr. Santini has been doing? He doesn’t keep accurate records, he doesn’t answer questions of the community, he & his brother-in-law have lost their contracts in a lot of non-Hudson municipalities, he has been brought up on charges for defrauding someone out of their life’s savings and then declaring bankruptcy (See Santini vs. Giunta Case No. 05-16282 (RG), Ad. Pro. No. 05-1907), he changed his name from Jeffrey Gazillo to Geoffrey Santini, he was on the board of the disgraced and shut down Jersey City Animal Shelter (whose conditions led people to form LHS), and his spokesperson said that he would take animals to Bergen County Protect and Rescue Center in Cliffside Park. – a facility run by Vince Ascolese! The Summit Animal Clinic in Union was a disaster. When I personally called about a lost cat in Hudson County Park, it took over two hours for someone to show up. During that time the injured cat bit me. The worker (not a licensed ACO) never made a bite report and the cat was euthanized immediately. Everyone working with animals knows that NJ requires a 10 day bite hold! A Hudson Reporter article from Oct 30, 2011 outlines the violations found at the clinic, including their “instant euthanasia” policy. Up until Bloomfield fired Ascolese, Santini was bringing animals from Fort Lee and Cliffside Park to the Bloomfield Shelter.

    Not for nothing but he runs a for-profit business, not a non-profit. He also lists himself as currently holding the positions of Diplomatic Security for Emirates and Hudson County Constable and Freeholder Aide on his Linked In profile. How does one have the time for that while personally overseeing his animal control business? Why was he bringing animals from Hudson County to an Essex County shelter which received multiple violations? Why were Santini and Ascolese bringing dogs up from the south to adopt out in NJ when we have overcrowded shelters? I’ll tell you why: they brought up the cute ones and sold them for 350 – 500 a clip, as opposed to animals adopted from the non-profit shelters that adopt out for a nominal 150 or less, fully vetted. He is in this to make money and NOT because of a desire to save all the animals.

    We all know Bayonne went with this supposedly money-saving contract which costs more in the long-run because of political ties. Reading through the RFP you can see that vet costs are additional (they weren’t at LHS), picking up wildlife like raccoons and opossums would incur charges for the homeowners who called (and picking them up if they aren’t injured or rabid is not part of the state’s best practices) and there’s no guarantee that any animal picked up would be returned. How many little old ladies are going to be able to get to Cliffside Park to pick up Fluffy?

  7. Penny, you are obviously a friend of Santini and not a Bayonne resident. My sympathies to his children. I hope they don’t follow in their father’s footsteps or uncle Vincent for that matter. Both animal abusers. So maybe you should keep your comments to yourself.

  8. Most people in Bayonne agree that it’s only common sense that Liberty Humane Society is closer, larger, properly run, and has the resources to help Bayonne’s animals. Anyone who thinks the current joke of animal control is doing right by our animals must also think Elephants and Tigers love to be taken away from their habitat, families, and all that is natural to them and perform tricks for us. People better wake up because it’s a disgrace that we are an affluent town that is trying to bring in people to huge expensive condos yet we can’t do right by our animals. It’s a disgrace and a huge blight on our name. We the people have spoken and the ones in power will not listen. So we will just have to be louder, and more organized. BAN THE CIRCUS AND BRING BACK LIBERTY HUMANE.

  9. The powers in Bayonne cancelled a valid contract with Liberty Humane Society that provided services over and above it’s contract terms and Bayonne then signed a contract with a company that is run by individuals with dubious and onerous reputations. To say that the contract was awarded to Bergen County Protect and Rescue on merit and because of their service to their contracted communities has not done their due diligence in investigating the people who run the shelter. This entire matter smells to high heaven of political nepotism by the counsel and the mayor of Bayonne. Excuses have been made by the city of Bayonne that citizens were complaining about wildlife invading their property but when I called to ask how many people complained they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) give me a number. Animal control for wildlife has “ALWAYS” been the responsibility of the home owner not the city so when the powers that be in Bayonne say that the contract with LHS was cancelled because they wouldn’t respond to calls to pick up wildlife that is nothing but an outright lie and one that everyone could see through immediately.

  10. I’m not sure what Santini and his personnel were looking at during their “surprise visits”, but they might want to get their eyes checked. I saw first hand the tired, worn, sad elephant being forced to give rides. Also, how can anyone working in animal welfare say that any animal in a circus is well cared for and in good condition!

  11. The saddest part about this entire post is you take the time to sit and bash whoever on here and call your self a rescue person. How dare you mention someone’s children, family members ect…You just showed everyone that you are classless. Who are you to judge anyone and there family and make these types of comments when there are kids viewing these things. You should be ashamed of your self. It’s one thing to bash someone but it’s another to bring there entire family into it. I highly doubt you were there for any rescue work..donations..offering help…offering your home …doesn’t look like you have done anything to help at all. Seems like you hide behind a phone/computer. At a young age it’s taught if you have nothing nice to say than don’t say anything at all. If you don’t have the solutions to make everything (perfect) than you should be the last one talking. Everyone has there day and when that day comes u will stand alone so don’t be quick to judge the next instead make a change in life and worry about yourself and concentrate on being a better person or saving lives. All your about is negative energy. Your no better than anyone if you can’t make the change. If you can do better than why don’t you stand up and go for it if not sit down and shut the hell up.

    • Casey, it’s obvious you don’t live in Bayonne and don’t work with the rescue groups if you don’t know the names of the people who have posted on this article. The original author, and all of the anti-Santini comments on here, are from people who are involved quite heavily. The only ones who aren’t are you and Penny, the people who are shilling for Santini. We all rescue, foster, transport, donate and do whatever we can for different local groups.

      I mentioned Vince Ascolese, his brother-in-law, because they are business partners in many shelters. If you’re unaware of that you haven’t been reading any of the news accounts from the last 6 months.

      I suggest that before you post again you rethink your position sine you were the one who came in with a great deal of negativity towards the earlier posters, telling them to shut the hell up. It might also help if you learn the difference between your and you’re, their and there.

  12. I know a woman posted on the Bayonne page that there was a crying, hungry cold kitten by her house, she called animal control& when she followed up next day, they couldn’t give her any info, it was as if the kitten made it to the holding area!!

  13. Penny get over yourself. Your latest comment is so childish. Nobody cares about Santini. We care about the animals here in Bayonne and his brand of care is not wanted here. Maybe he broke your heart ,..you should move on