People worried more about stray animals than minorities, NJ writer argues
TRENTON — An opinion column published in The Trentonian applauding the city's decision to cut ties with Trenton Animals Rock says pets are treated better than minorities in New Jersey's capital city.
The column from LA Parker published Monday calls back to the killing of 9-year-old SeQuoya Bacon-Jones last month. And it mocks Mayor Reed Gusciora's calls to keep the Trenton Animal Shelter's status as a no-kill shelter.
"Gusciora and his pet shop boys should push for a ‘no kill’ initiative for Trenton residents with hopes that we avoid another horrid March night like when SeQuoya Bacon-Jones allegedly looked up at a Trenton police officer attempting to save her life and made her disturbing inquiry — Am I going to die?"
Parker's piece dismisses concerns that the shelter could revert back to putting down 47% of its animals as "dishonest."
"And, with TAR out, it’s unlikely that city leaders will offer a contract to a new animal organization that kills off pets without real cause," wrote Parker.
But under city management, the shelter was cited in 2017 for illegally euthanizing dogs.
“Records showed that 18 animals were euthanized between March, 2017 and
May 5, 2017 without being held the required 7 days,” a state Department of Health report said.
Parker's argument, which is not unique in Trenton, is that the city should focus on its residents before its animals. Residents made similar points at the April 7 City Council meeting.
"We sitting here talking about an animal shelter, that the animals ain't got nowhere to live," one woman said. "The people ain't got nowhere to live, you understand?"
At the same meeting, Trenton City Council voted 4-3 to not extend a $375,000 contract TAR.
However, TAR Executive Director Danielle Gletow told New Jersey 101.5 that it's possible to help both.
"Why are people making this an either-or?" she asked.
The column by Parker called out Gletow by name. It claims she currently has "oversight' over the few dogs left at the shelter.
Gletow told New Jersey 101.5 that Parker's piece is "poorly researched" and "misinformed." As she noted, TAR was locked out of the building and has no access to the remaining animals.
Gletow pointed out that she has been helping both Trenton's residents and animals for years.
Almost 14 years ago, Gletow founded One Simple Wish. Now a national non-profit, it helps children impacted by trauma in foster care.
And OSW has been serving Trenton for the last decade. In February 2021, OSW worked with other nonprofits to get warm clothing to hundreds of families in Trenton.
At the same time, Gletow and TAR's volunteers were helping the Trenton Animal Shelter.
As for Parker, Gletow said she will reach out to the columnist for a live, public conversation to clear up the facts.
"Why doesn't he give me a call and let's have a sit down instead of just using my name," Gletow said. "I would happily sit down with LA Parker."
Parker told New Jersey 101.5 that the conversation would likely not lead to a productive outcome.
"Unless Danielle can clear up how animals and pets generate more concern than Trenton children — not much to talk about," Parker said.
Gletow also commented on reporting from The Trentonian that members of the City Council were discussing backroom deals. Councilman Muschal and other insiders reportedly told the tabloid that other members would approve TAR's contract if the body voted to fire Police Director Steve Wilson.
"That's disgusting," Gletow told New Jersey 101.5. "If that happens I don't want the contract."
Muschal told The Trentonian he planned to report the matter to the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office. MCPO spokesperson Casey DeBlasio told New Jersey 101.5 she was not aware of any attempts from Muschal to reach the prosecutor's office. Muschal did not respond to a request for comment from New Jersey 101.5.
In the meantime, Gletow is refocusing TAR's mission. Without a facility to use, the group is fundraising to get a van for community outreach and education.
The new resident program would bring services to peoples' homes. Behavioral assessments, food and supplies deliveries, safe crating techniques, and microchipping dogs on the go are all part of Gletow's plan.
TAR's fundraiser has raised more than $10,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.
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