The mayor confirmed the incident was in Trenton, but said he was at a loss as to why the state's Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals publicly blasted the response. He said the SPCA's version of events, "did not happen."
The state SPCA - without naming the town or animal control officer involved - on Sunday criticized the response, saying an officer initially refused to respond and take the dogs Saturday night because it was a holiday weekend, and the town did not want to pick up the medical costs for emergency care.
The animal control officer only responded when threatened with criminal charges, eventually taking the emaciated puppy to a medical facility, the SPCA alleged.
"It's not the case," Jackson said, specifically responding to the SPCA's allegations.
The mayor said animal control officers were called to a house on New Rose Street in North Trenton to assist the SPCA officers, who first found the dogs. Food and water were present, and two of the dogs were healthy.
One dog was unhealthy, but from a medical problem - not apparent starvation from a lack of food, the mayor said. (The SPCA said the one dog was emaciated, and all three were left to die.)
Nevertheless, the city agreed to accept responsibility for emergency care for the dog and to pay for it - on Sunday, Jackson said.
Jackson said he spoke with his health department director, James Brownlee, about the incident and spent considerable time reviewing the matter Tuesday due to the publicity it garnered. (The city's shelter and animal control officers fall under the health department.)
"The entire way this was presented by the SPCA did not happen and we are still trying to determine why," Jackson said.
The incident turned into somewhat of a back-and-forth on Tuesday as well between Trenton and the SPCA regarding the timeline of events.
SPCA spokesman Matt Stanton said the agency sticks by it's allegations that they received no initial assistance from Trenton animal control officers.
He said Tuesday that SPCA officers were on scene for about four hours Saturday, from 4:15 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. Saturday and two Trenton animal control officers arrived during the investigation.
Jackson, though, had no information about the city being involved in the incident Saturday evening and the city accepted care and payment for the one dog's care on Sunday.
The SCPA had said in a statement on Sunday it responded to the apartment at 4 p.m. on Saturday evening and received no initial help from local animal control or the police. The dog was eventually taken to a medical facility only after the animal control officer was threatened with criminal charges, the statement said.
On Sunday, according to the statement, the animal control officer and the medical facility demanded the puppy be removed. An SPCA sergeant who responded to the scene the day before arranged for an animal rescue group to find the puppy a home, according to the statement.
Jackson said if the SPCA has specifics about alleged inaction from city officials, he'd like to hear from them personally. He said his staffers could not get through to the agency Tuesday in a quest to figure things out.
Meanwhile, Trenton Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson said she talked to to mayor as well and will press for more answers.
A known animal lover who regularly fundraises for the city shelter, the councilwoman said she was under the impression that the incident contained "a lot of misinformation" that was making the city look bad. She said shelter staffers do a great job with what they have. "And these types of things don't help."
"We need to find out exactly what went down there," she said.
(NJ.com - Jan 3, 2017)
- New Jersey: Outrage at animal control officer who 'REFUSED to rescue abandoned emaciated puppy because it was a holiday weekend'