NEW HAVEN, Conn. — More than a dozen dogs were taken out of The New Haven Animal Shelter after it failed a state inspection. Now, those dogs are getting the care they need in other local shelters.
Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter in Branford took most of the animals, while The Animal Haven in North Haven took two dogs...Mr. Magoo and Snow White.
"When we were first there in November we saw her and we noticed that she was getting very skinny and we were like, you know, we would really love to help her. And then it kind of just had gotten worse until we had taken her in January," said Taylor Jacques, The Assistant Manager at The Animal Haven, about Snow White.
Jacques said since Snow White and Mr. Magoo have been under their care, they've both become happier and healthier dogs. They're now at a good weight, and after a few more appointments, they should be up for adoption soon.
"The dogs really have stepped into their personalities. You can tell that they're feeling better, they're feeling healthier. You can tell that they still have some exams to go through, but they are shining," Jacques said.
The New Haven Animal Shelter is a division of the police department. The city is taking action and making changes to its operations there.
"It was very heartbreaking for me to see some of those photos. And I was mad, I was mad at myself because I'm the person that's responsible. And we're going to fix it," said Chief Karl Jacobson with the New Haven Police Department.
Jacobson said the State Department of Agriculture conducted an inspection in late January at the shelter. They found many of the dogs were not eating enough. They also found the shelter was over capacity and some changes needed to be made in the infrastructure of the place. There was another flag raised about cleaning practices that may not be best for the animals.
"Of course, we always fed the dogs, of course, we always did what we could to feed and take care of the dogs. But I feel like the number of dogs and animals we had, dogs began to not eat due to anxiety," Jacobson said.
Jacobson said the shelter was filled to the brim because like many other cities, people have started to surrender their pets as the pandemic calms down and they head back to work. Combine that with a staffing shortage at the shelter, and he said that was the result of the problems.
"There's a lot of barking, it's a foreign environment and if we don't have enough staff to walk the animals to make sure that they're cared for well, they can get so stressed out that they don't eat properly," said New Haven Mayor, Justin Elicker.
Elicker and Jacobson are working with the state and other organizations to make some changes. Not only are they including money in next year's budget to bring two full-time civilians on staff at the shelter, but they're also moving people around and increasing staffing now. The officer in charge at the shelter has also been swapped out. Plus, they will be making infrastructure changes to the HVAC system and sound reduction measures for the pets, to help with anxiety.
Though all of that will take time, Jacobson said they will make it happen and pass their next inspection.
"Our number one thing is to keep the residents of the city safe, but it's also our responsibility to keep the animals safe, too," Jacobson said.
Jacobson said he also launched an internal affairs investigation, just to make sure there was no wrongdoing by any of the officers involved in the care of the animals at the shelter.
Much of the care at the shelter is also done by volunteers, many of who work with a group called, Friends of the New Haven Animal Shelter. That organization is not responsible for the day-to-day care of the animals.
However, they are responding to the incident with the following statement.
"...Over the past 30 years, we’ve done our best to provide supplementary care and comfort—specifically medical care—to our animals, which can seen in the number of animals who have been successfully adopted from the shelter.
The Friends of the New Haven Animal Shelter is committed to working with the New Haven Police Department and the Humane Commission to continue to aid the animals who are temporary residents at our shelter. We look forward to any changes which will help us with our mission."
-Friends of the New Haven Animal Shelter.
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