Woodbridge is a large township in Middlesex county with many sections that you may or may not know are part of the same township! As their website says, it is "10 Small Towns, One Great Community." The 2020 census clocked Woodbridge in with a population of 103,212. Although Woodbridge is not a city, it's the largest municipality we've looked at population-wise in our "Feeding cats in" series so far!
Note: All public records requests and responses referenced in this post are available for public viewing on OPRAMachine.com.
1. Woodbridge township stated that it does not have a TNR Program.
Like all of the towns we study, we started with an OPRA request to the town's custodian of records, who responded in a timely fashion to the following request:
Here is the response received 4/18/23 from the records custodian (also an Animal Control Officer at Woodbridge's animal shelter):
The number listed is (732)-855-0600 ext. 2034, as well as the shelter address of 195 Woodbridge Ave., Sewaren, NJ 07077.
Contact information for Woodbridge Animal Shelter is also on their website here.
2. Woodbridge Township has an explicit feeding ban in place for tenants.
Woodbridge's municipal code Chapter 17 includes a section 17-3 called "Notice to Tenants of Quality of Life Responsibilities. If you read it, item #3 states: "Dogs and cats are both required to be licensed and leashed at all times and cleaned up after. Feeding feral cats is not allowed. Free rabies shots are given at the Health Department during the year. Stray animals can be picked up by calling Animal Control through the Health Department at 732-855-0600."
3. Woodbridge Township prohibits feeding of any unfixed cat.
This section of code letter (c) states, "No person shall feed an outside cat unless the cat is spayed or neutered."
4. Woodbridge's shelter records tell a very different story than their ordinances and OPRA request responses.
Most towns in New Jersey put a large separation between the impound facility or shelter and animal control. However, Woodbridge's animal control officers are custodians of records for both shelter records and animal control records.
Thanks to OPRAMachine.com, the public can view previous completed OPRA requests made by others. Right after receiving the clear statement from Woodbridge's records custodian, I found some completed requests from Woodbridge's shelter made in March 2023 that included a complete list of all calls made to animal control related to cats. While we are still in the process of redacting names and addresses on this enormous document, here are the highlights we read:
Residents put on waiting lists for owner surrenders, even individuals with cats in dangerous situations or deceased owners; others offered surrender "appointments." Others were told to find rescues. In many cases, there was no follow-up after being put "on the list" or a call was made to offer an appointment months later.
Refusal to pick up stray cats. One of our friends residing in Woodbridge was not offered a surrender appointment of a clearly friendly dumped cat in her yard and told to simply "leave it alone, its mother will come back" despite the cat being 5 months old and not having left her property. This is also despite Woodbridge's code section here that requires - not allows - the town's police or "any agency authorized or employed for the purpose by the Township" to impound stray or at-large animals.
Residents repeatedly told to find rescues to take their cats
Individuals requesting TNR (including those with pregnant or injured cats) put on wait lists and not called for over four months
Inconsistent responses to calls for TNR help
One resident was told to release the cat from a trap because they "did not trap during allowed trapping hours"
Another resident called during after hours and was given a pick-up of a cat trapped
Same-day trap and undescribed relocation of feral cats by neighbors of feeders and assisted by ACOs
Many letters issued by animal control demanding people feeding unfixed cats to "cease feeding" following complaints by neighbors of feeders who refused to or did not fix cats.
Nope, we can't let this go. It's not making sense.
Something is not adding up here. If the town does not have a dedicated TNR program, where does the town's shelter get the money to provide TNR services, which have clearly been provided to some residents for the past year?
Regardless of anyone's idea of the perfect TNR program, it's pretty clear that a lot of inconsistency exists in Woodbridge and that not every resident is treated the same.
We will publish the list of 2022 cat-related calls shortly, after names and addresses are redacted, as the town also responded by including full names and addresses of complainants and residents who called.
It appears that Woodbridge is avoiding publicizing standard operating protocol or procedures for residents' TNR services. By stating that they do not have a dedicated TNR program, everything is at the discretion of the shelter. Rest assured, township employees are performing some portion of TNR, but there is no way to know exactly what they are doing or if it is even safe or humane (i.e. leaving traps unattended, etc).
What we can guarantee is that if you have unfixed pregnant cats outside, that township trap or pick-up is not coming in time to avoid kittens and more cats suffering outside.
Our suggestion is always to control TNR yourself--if you can afford the very low rates at People for Animals, by all means, get trapping and use walk-in surgery days! It's much cheaper and easier to fix one or two cats than 25. We can help you with equipment lending and the procedures are all on this site. For low-income residents, we have the 50 Feral Fix Program and vouchers available.