At Tuesday afternoon’s trial continuation for three Monmouth County animal control officers (ACOs) and one health officer accused of illegal cat killing, Dr. Lawrence Weiner, owner of Town and Country Veterinarian Services, Manalapan, was questioned by Prosecutor James Nelson Butler for the entire period.
The trial, in Manalapan Municipal Court, resumed shortly after 1 pm and ended close to 4 pm. Three dates in July and August were reserved for it to continue, as/if needed.
As before, the defendants – Julie Kramer, Freehold health officer; and ACOs Cherlann Ambrose, John Domic and Sharon Gaboff – sat with their lawyers facing Judge George Cieri. Plaintiff Stuart Goldman sat nearby with Prosecutor Butler.
Drawing on complaints Goldman had filed against the ACOs and health officer, the prosecutor questioned Weiner closely about 2012 records on cats brought to his practice, often by an ACO, and what happened to each – in most cases, death by euthanization. Many of those cats were then decapitated in preparation for state testing for rabies.
Since Weiner had not finished testifying by the 4 pm recess, he will continue on July 23, the next date scheduled. In the course of
his testimony on Tuesday, Weiner frequently referred to:
- Cats he or his colleagues had deemed “debilitated,” or unable to survive seven days in the (Helmetta) shelter because of existing health problems (either perceived or reported)
- Cats who had reportedly had “human exposure” (bit or scratched a person) and therefore should be tested for rabies.
(For those who don’t know, the only way to test for rabies is through a biological test of brain tissue. The rabies test therefore requires the animal in question to be euthanized then decapitated so a sample of brain tissue can be sent to Trenton for testing.)
In the course of testifying, Weiner also said:
- “If an ACO tells me an animal’s brought in for ‘rabies de-cap,’ it’s not my prerogative to find out who he bit or scratched.” If a cat’s brought to him by another government agency, it’s up to that agency to check.
- Asked if he would hold a cat for 10 days (rabies observation period), he said the person bitten would make that decision. A later record involved one of the ACOs being scratched by a cat she brought in; she decided against the 10-day hold.
- “I am not mandated to treat animals brought to me (by an ACO in the case of a cat reportedly “seizuring”) in ill health at my expense. . . . I’m not there to save all these animals. The poor animal’s sick and there’s no one to take care of him. . . and we pick our battles.”
- If a person relinquishes a cat, Weiner’s hospital considers whether it can be “recycled” (that is, re-adopted). If not, euthanization may follow.
- He described many of the cats and kittens euthanized by Town and Country as “too sick to send (to the Helmetta shelter), too wild to treat.”
The dates set aside for continuation of the trial are Tuesday, July 23, 1-4 pm; Monday, July 29, 10 am-4:30 pm; and Monday, Aug. 12, 1-4:30 pm.
Freelance writer Pat Summers also blogs at nj.com/pets.