(Update) Montclair Animal Shelter Manager Resigns, Effective Immediately

Montclair-Animal-ShelterUpdated with comments from township officials:

Melissa Neiss, the much-criticized director manager of the Montclair Township Animal Shelter, resigned this morning, effective immediately, multiple Montclair Township municipal officials have told Baristanet.

Baristanet reported that Neiss was on leave on October 4, however officials would not confirm complete details.

When asked for the reason behind Neiss’s resignation, Montclair Mayor Robert Jackson tells Baristanet: “I can’t comment on it other to say I thank her for her service to the township and i wish her well with the next part of her life.”

Jackson also spoke about positive and encouraging changes for its future.

“We are moving aggressively to make our animal shelter a state of the art facility,” he says, “both its structure and its operations.”

Veterinarian Nancy Katz, vice-chair of the Montclair Animal Welfare Advisory committee, is hopeful for positive change and she urges the Township Council to adopt the committee’s recommendations regarding a new shelter director.

“It’s very easy to look at a shelter like Montclair and see the chaotic state it is in right now and point out what’s wrong with it,” Katz tells Baristanet. “It is a completely different thing to be able to envision a detailed and comprehensive plan not just to fix it but to turn it into something great and we need someone who could do the latter.

“There is no person within the shelter or health department who fits what the animal welfare committee has envisioned as shelter director,” she continues.  “I think it’s great news because it gives us opportunity and opportunity is a great thing.”

‎Kay  Sherwood, chair of the animal advisory committee, says Neiss’s resignation is a first step toward making permanent improvements in Montclair’s animal control and sheltering services.

“We look forward to a different and better future for our town’s animals,” she says.


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  1. If you take the big picture…Manager Marc Dashield also resigned after months of defending Neiss. Dashield has been pushed by residents to remediate the conditions at the Shelter for years – but just sat on it. Last spring, he was pushed again by the Friends volunteers group and still did nothing. Even last night he still couldn’t come up with a solution to solve the situation. It was the Council members that forced him to do emergency repairs now – which the Manager should have just handled calmly a long time ago.

  2. The buck goes up, not down. Melissa might not have been the right person to manage the shelter but whoever she reported to should have realized it and done something about it, like hiring someone who is. I don’t get it…everything in the public sector is complicated and good people end up losing their jobs while those who should be held responsible skate on. I don’t know Melissa personally though I met her a couple of times while at the shelter. She is/was an ACO. Whoever decided to make her the shelter manager and then walk away should be made to resign, not an ACO.

    I wish her the best of luck in her next shelter.

  3. Blaming Melissa for any of the issues at the shelter is akin to blaming a teacher because the school roof leaks, the toilets don’t work, and the boiler works only on occasion.

    At least the witch hunt is over.

  4. “everything in the public sector is complicated and good people end up losing their jobs while those who should be held responsible skate on.”

    —yeah, cause that never happens in the private sector…

  5. Dear Jon (Jon Katz)
    Looking back on your book about a dozen or so dog owning families in Montclair (New Work of Dogs) calling Montclair a Dog Town.
    I think you’d be as upset as I am about the current condition of The Animal Shelter. The other night at a Council meeting, slides were shown of the infamous missing wall and windows covered w/ chicken wire rather then glass in the Shelter. Leaving the Shelter open to very cold outdoor tempertures and the possible infestation of rodents or even a burglar. Of course any heat would escape in the winter as well as air conditioning. I could go on and on like the short hours the shelter is open to the public, etc.
    The other night The Town Council did promise that they would be open to getting some quotes for work in fixing this & it would be on a fast track.
    If I were on the Council, I couldn’t sleep at night knowing these problems existed.
    I could go on.
    JT, Montclair Feed

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