Executive director of large animal shelter network tried to gag workers and now faces multiple criminal charges

AHS animal shelter - dirt and carcasses
Photo: NJDOH
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

In October, Roseann Trezza, 70, the executive director of Associated Humane Societies (AHS) ordered volunteers to sign a gagging agreement to prevent them from discussing the Newark shelter on social media. If they refused they’d lose their job. Clearly she had something to hide.

According to the report on patch.com, it appears that what she was hiding was a catalogue of misdeeds and negligence at the Newark facility some of which are listed below. She has been charged with eight criminal counts of animal cruelty and eight civil counts of animal cruelty in civil law. I think this might relate to contract or negligence issues. It also appears that there have been troubles regarding standards at AHS over a number of years.

Trezza was in charge for 40 years. AHS provides shelters in Newark, Forked River and Tinton Falls and animal control officer and holding/ impounding services in a dozen other locations.

There have been years of allegations and complaints from local animal rights activists and shelter volunteers. Subsequently there were many inspections.

City inspectors found many violations including (this is not a complete list):

  • Animals euthanised within the obligatory 7 day period.
  • Dirty and badly maintained facility
  • Bags containing carcasses outside the building (this violation may have been corrected)
  • Incomplete animal intake records and incomplete euthanasia records
  • Several cats and kittens with contagious diseases in the overflow room
  • Cats in carriers that were filthy and containing debris and bodily wastes
  • Many animals left without water
  • Excessive medical waste stored at the facility

Basic veterinary care was allegedly not delivered to some cats (there are other alleged violations):

  • ‘A brown tabby cat in the feral cat room was unable to open its right eye fully and the nictitating membrane was covering the eye.’
  • ‘Cats and kittens that were said to have ringworm where being housed in the medical exam room and were not housed in a separate isolation room to prevent the dissemination of disease.’

There was a petition in September requesting her resignation, signed by 3000.

Comment: it happens regrettably but perhaps one factor as to why this dire state of affairs might have come about was because the woman in question is 70-years-of-age and had been in charge for 40 years. Perhaps she lost the energy and drive to keep up standards. I am not defending her.

An AHS spokesperson speaking to patch.com (the source of this post) said they were working to improve and bring the standards at the shelter up to scratch.




3 thoughts on “Executive director of large animal shelter network tried to gag workers and now faces multiple criminal charges”

  1. No confidentially clause can prevent you from reporting a crime or release you from the moral obligation to do so.
    Employees who work at any level in high kill shelters probably fare no better physiologically that those that work in commercial factory slaughterhouses.
    Gag orders are usually requested by either party in litigation and issued by a judge to keep employees from talking and contaminating an investigation and to protect evidence. You would also be prohibited from talking to anyone including reporters while the gag order was in force.

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  2. Long ago I cut my teeth on rescue by reading the flyer AHS published — does anyone remember it? It contained many b&w photos of shelter animals with little rhyming descriptions underneath. So sad so see this happen — ghastly for the animals of course but also tragic for Ms. Trezza after a lifetime devoted to what was a monumental task. Not defending her either — I have no firsthand knowledge — but someone really needs to do a study of the life cycle of shelterers and rescuers. So many suicides, etc. Is it a sense of failure, the feeling that one has lost the fight? In this case was there a loss of capacity as suggested above? Attempt to “muzzle” volunteers may have been a desperate effort to reassert an inner sense of control she felt was slipping away. Tragic in every sense of the word — & the fierce personal attacks posted on the link don’t get beneath the surface (though I can understand the anger too). BTW, several important lawsuits regarding shelter volunteers & control over them have recently been wending their way through US courts.

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