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N.J. pets in need: Sept. 24, 2018

Dogs and cats all over New Jersey await adoption.

Canines and their owners are invited to Roosevelt Park in Edison on Oct. 7 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the fourth annual DogFest New Jersey benefiting Canine Companions for Independence.

dogfest.jpgDogFest New Jersey takes place on Oct. 7 at Roosevelt Park in Edison. 

DogsFest will include speakers, dog demonstrations, music, food and more. The annual event raises funds for Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit provider of trained assistance dogs with six regional training centers across the country.

Established in 1975, Canine Companions provides "highly trained assistance dogs to children and adults with disabilities and is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people." There is no charge for the dog, its training and on-going follow-up services. For more information, visit cci.org or call 1-800-572-2275.

Individuals who raise at least $250 will receive a special DogFest gift. Information on DogFest New Jersey and fundraising for Canine Companions is available by going to support.cci.org/site/TR?fr_id=1610&pg=entry.

Roosevelt Park is located on Roosevelt Drive.

Greg Hatala may be reached at greghatalagalleries@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.



Mon, 24 Sep 2018 10:30:00 UTC


The 50 N.J. school districts where teachers make the most money

The median N.J. teacher salary in the top district is more than $100,000.



Sun, 23 Sep 2018 17:00:00 UTC


Amid scrutiny over dog deaths, PetSmart hosts tour of grooming salons at stores across the U.S.

The event comes days after NJ Advance Media's report of 47 dogs dying during or shortly after groomings at PetSmart, and families struggling to understand why.

The nation's leading pet retailer is allowing customers to tour its grooming salons Sunday as part of a package of changes it's making to reassure customers that its dog groomings are safe.

PetSmart announced the open houses in February amid an NJ Advance Media investigation that documented dozens of cases of dogs dying during or shortly after groomings.

The investigation, published Thursday, found the company has offered owners payments, sometimes for as little as few hundred dollars, in exchange for non-disclosure agreements. It also detailed allegations of inadequate groomer training and intense pressure to grow profits.

Read the full investigation, "Groomed, then Gone"

PetSmart -- which operates more than 1,600 stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico -- fiercely defends its safety record and has not admitted wrongdoing in any of the cases.

"As a company of pet lovers who are dedicated to the health and happiness of all pets, we empathize with these grieving families," it said in a statement Thursday. "Nevertheless, we are not aware of any evidence suggesting that PetSmart services caused the deaths of these pets."

During the course of the investigation, the company announced it would improve dog screenings before groomings, install cameras in grooming areas and review its training procedures.

PetSmart also announced the tours, which it said would allow "pet parents to meet their local groomers, discuss their pet's specific needs, tour their local salon and have all their questions answer." The tours will run from 10 a.m. to noon in all of its stores.  

"We maintain the highest standards in the industry, but by no means are we perfect," the company said in its statement. "That's why we're always exploring enhancements to those standards."

Prompted by the December death of Scruffles, an English bulldog groomed at a PetSmart in Flemington, tens of thousands of people have taken to social media, and customers have shared stories of injuries or deaths.

The movement provided the impetus for the NJ Advance Media investigation, which documented 47 cases across 14 states since 2008 in which families claim they took their dog for a grooming only to have it die during or shortly afterwards.

That number, however, is hardly a definitive accounting of deaths.

No state currently requires all individual groomers to be licensed, so there's no enforced standard training, a lack of transparency of safety records and little public accounting when things go wrong. As a result, there's no way to know how many dogs die after any grooming.

Read the full investigation, "Groomed, then Gone"

When deaths do occur, it's rarely clear what happened.

Some pets could have unknown medical conditions that put them at risk, or they could die of natural causes, old age or other reasons out of the groomer's control. Though PetSmart did not address specific cases in its statement, it said it considered those issues to be important factors in many of the deaths identified in NJ Advance Media's investigation.

Even when a necropsy -- the animal equivalent of a human autopsy -- is conducted, it is often inconclusive and speculative. Cases are hard to prove and, since pets are usually legally considered property, there's little financial incentive for owners or lawyers.

When cases do go to court, they often settle and result in confidentiality agreements. In several instances, the company has offered out-of-court payments to pet owners -- especially those who have been outspoken on social media -- in return for signing non-disclosure agreements.

According to a copy of a three-page PetSmart non-disclosure agreement obtained by NJ Advance Media, signatories are forbidden from revealing anything about an incident, the payment received or even the existence of the agreement.

In addition, the agreement also says those who sign are prohibited from discussing their experiences on social media.

Sophie Nieto-Munoz may be reached at snietomunoz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her at @snietomunoz. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

Alex Napoliello may be reached at anapoliello@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @alexnapoNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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Sun, 23 Sep 2018 12:45:01 UTC


HS football: New NJ record, Bergen wins plus more Week 3 hot takes & highlights

Nick Kargman of Woodrow Wilson sets a new state single-season record, Bergen Catholic gets the best of Don Bosco again and more from Week 3.



Sun, 23 Sep 2018 01:52:00 UTC


Home of Congressman's supporter vandalized with swastikas, anti-Semitic graffiti

U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, who is Jewish, condemned the incident

The home of a supporter of U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer was vandalized with a swastika and other graffiti Friday evening, the homeowner and the congressman's campaign reported.

The incident occurred in Hampton along Route 521. 

Vandalism 4.JPGHandout photo 

Gottheimer, a Democrat who represents New Jersey's 5th congressional district, is Jewish.

Signs in front of the home were vandalized also, along with two of a neighbor's signs. 

One sign, a large Josh Gottheimer for Congress banner, had "VOTE MAGA" and "GO TO CALI DEMS," and LIBS SUCK" spray painted on it.

A swastika was painted on a speed limit sign next to the family's house, said homeowner Adam Stolarsky. 

His garage's door handles were tampered with so it looked as if someone was trying to break in.

"Making America Great Again should not include painting swatistaks on peoples houses, going on people's property to deface their property," Adam Stolarsky, 48, said.

"We have three teenage children," he said. "We can't let the worst voices be heard the loudest. If they continue to attack our sign we'll continue to put it up."

He reported the incident to the New Jersey State Police.

"There's no place for white supremacists or anti-Semitism in our broader community, and this vile hate-motivated crime certainly does not reflect the values of the people of Sussex County," Gottheimer said in a statement.

"I'm grateful to law enforcement for their quick response," he said.

Gottheimer's GOP opponent, John McCann, responded to the incident via a statement on his Facebook page, calling the act "abhorrent." 

"There is no room for racism in our politics, in our state or in our country," the statement read. "I find this particularly offensive because I had the honor of serving as Shabbos goy in the neighborhood where I grew up."

On Thursday, Gottheimer joined other officials in condemning the racist remarks of Bergen County County Sheriff Michael Saudino, aimed at black residents and N.J. Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

Saudino resigned Friday.

The New Jersey State Police said they would have more information on the incident on Monday.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with the comments of John McCann.

Taylor Tiamoyo Harris may be reached at tharris@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @ladytiamoyo.

Find NJ.com on Facebook.

 


Sat, 22 Sep 2018 21:33:00 UTC