The Township of Bloomfield received two bids from Bergen County Humane Enforcement in response to the two RFPs (requests for proposals) that had been issued by the Township for both the animal control and shelter management responsibilities at the Bloomfield Animal Shelter.
Responses to the RFPs were due by 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 30, 2014. The bids were opened publicly at that time in the Council Chambers by Municipal Clerk Louise Palagano.
Animal Control Officer Vincent Ascolese from BCHE attended the bid opening on behalf of his organization, which is located in Cliffside Park, NJ. In 2012, BCHE founded Bergen County Protect and Rescue Foundation and created a no-kill shelter in Cliffside Park under their auspices.
According to their proposals, Bergen County Humane Enforcement has been providing services to Cliffside Park and Palisades Park for 4+ years. Both municipalities provided letters of recommendation as part of the bid packet. In addition, BCHE provides animal control services to a number of other towns, including Woodland Park, which hired the organization in March of this year.
BCHE’s experience includes conducting animal censuses; establishing the no-kill shelter in Cliffside Park; initiating a Trap and Release program for feral cats; conducting animal awareness programs in local schools; and establishing an online complaint/volunteer/information/request service. BCHE also established the East Bergen OEM Shelter Volunteer Group to provide animal-related services during Hurricane Sandy.
The bid for animal control services came in at $120,000 annually, with a 2% increase to take effect from 2015-2016. The proposal requires Bloomfield Township to agree to bring the shelter facility up to building and shelter codes according to NJSA Title 8:23-A. Current ACO Mike Spinella would be retained, along with additional ACOs.
Bloomfield Township would retain responsibility for maintenance of the facility (including completion of the second floor of the shelter), animal licensing, and animal canvassing materials.
The shelter services bid was submitted under the auspices of Bergen County Humane Enforcement Corporation and North Jersey Humane Society Corporation. The bid is for $145,000 annually with no increase from years 2015-2017. This bid also requires Bloomfield to bring the shelter facility up to code.
Bergen County Humane Enforcement/North Jersey Humane Society propose to implement a no-kill policy at Bloomfield Animal Shelter and to “install a qualified, trained, community-based volunteer program” at the shelter within the first quarter of operations. Other responsibilities would include:
- Installing a new Shelter Director who is certified and qualified by BCHE’s Executive Director. Current employees “will be given the opportunity to meet with the Executive Director for a review process.”
- Performing daily shelter operations under NJSA Title 8:23-A, while implementing a no-kill policy.
- Continuing education for employees.
- Providing veterinarian and vet tech visitations and implementing a state-mandated disease control plan. BCHE/NJHS will also cover all vet/health care costs, including for feral cat colony.
- Technology upgrades, including office equipment, web design, and advertising. They will also implement a social media campaign and interactive website.
- Maintenance of proper records; provide monthly reports.
- Work closely with community organizations to promote educational outreach.
- Organize and maintain feral cat colony.
- Hold at least two rabies clinics annually, with a goal of holding them quarterly.
In addition, BCHE/NJHS pledges to “implement compassionate care shelter atmosphere programs to better socialize our animals and prepare them for their new adoptive journey into a safe environment.”
Other responsibilities would include working together with the township to finalize the construction/completion of the second floor of the animal shelter and promoting adoption of animals through special events.
BCHE/NJHS also proposes to partner with People for Animals to conduct a registered pickup and dropoff site for residents to bring their pets for low-cost spay and neuter services through the “Neuter Scooter” program.
They also would work with the animal control officers to transport injured animals and wildlife to animal hospitals and rescue centers.
Officer Ascolese said the Cliffside Park shelter is a true no-kill shelter and that they have adopted out every animal in their care. The longest time it took for an adoption, he said, was 14 months for a dog named Donny Boy. Because the dog, a pit bull that they believed was once used for fighting due to the scars he had, was able to make human connections, he said they were successful in training him and ultimately finding him an ideal home, where he lives with another dog. In addition to taking in local animals, he said they also rescue animals from high-kill shelters and participate in exchange programs with other shelters to provide the animals with more exposure and opportunities for adoption.
Township Administrator Ted Ehrenburg told Officer Ascolese they will review the proposal and get back to him with a response.
The Bloomfield Animal Shelter has been mired in controversy for the past two years since the Health Department, which ran the shelter at the time, dismissed the volunteers in March of 2012. The shelter operations had since been turned over to the Township in early 2013.
At the time the RFP went out, Township Administrator Ted Ehrenburg and Township Attorney Brian Aloia had been finalizing an ordinance to lay the groundwork to establish Bloomfield Animal Shelter as a no-kill shelter using model legislation based on the Companion Animal Protection Act, an ordinance that had been promoted by local animal advocates. The legislation had been passed by the mayor and council in conference but has not yet been voted on first reading at a regular council meeting.