Due to unheeded calls by concerned citizens to the local police in Hamilton Township, New Jersey, one dog froze to death and another was returned to a neglectful owner.
Calls came in on 02/16/19, 02/18/19, 02/20/19, 03/01/19 and 03/07/19 for five dogs left outside in pens behind a dilapidated, abandoned home at 1261 Scranton Avenue.
The owner of the five dogs, Kimberlynn Jurkowski, left the property and moved to another town. She had automatic feeders for the dogs, but the dog houses were not even close to meeting the standards required by law as adequate shelter.
According to the body cam video of the police officers who responded on 02/18/19, the entire property was completely run down; dilapidated buildings, garbage, and dogs in pens with sheets of plywood leaning against a fence to act as shelter.
Watch the body cam footage here https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=640674269709946
A second officer went out on 02/20/19 and witnessed the same. This time there was snow on the ground. The dogs were still in their same deplorable environment, yet no action was taken to remove the dogs.
Watch the second officer’s body cam video footage here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=414599562426000
Temperatures were in the teens on many days, with wind chills below zero. Several photos of the dog houses and their pens have been shared on social media. In looking at the photos, it is obvious the standards for food, proper shelter and water were not met.
According to people who knew of the dogs, a senior Rottweiler was one of the five dogs on the property. Not only was he an older dog, but he was also injured and could barely walk. On 03/07/19, he was found dead inside his supposed doghouse. He was found frozen to the ground. The dog’s body has been sent for a necropsy. It was only then that the remaining dogs were seized and taken to the shelter in Pleasantville. One of the dogs was missing. Here is where the story takes an even stranger twist.
On February 12th, 2019, a Good Samaritan who prefers to be called “Jackie” to protect her identity, was driving through Buena Vista Township and came across a wet, disheveled border collie standing in the snow on the road. She had no collar and was emaciated. She picked up the dog and put her into a crate. She gave the dog some treats and continued driving to her destination. In the interim, she talked to various friends and posted some pictures on social media to try and find the owner.
Jackie went directly to her vet where the dog was scanned for a microchip. None was found. The dog’s hair was so matted on her rear end that she could not even urinate directly onto the ground. The urine flowed into the matted hair. As soon as Jackie got home with the dog, she gave her a bath. Since the matting on the coat was so extensive and could not be combed out, the mats had to be cut with scissors When she was done trimming, she had a yellow plastic grocery bag halfway full of mats and sticker bush twigs. This dog had been neglected for a long time.
The border collie lived with the Jackie for six days. The dog was not housebroken and would soil the blankets, but she was a sweet little dog who craved attention and loved to snuggle in laps.
On February 16th, 2019, a call came in from Atlantic County Animal Shelter advising that the dog’s owner had contacted them. Since the dog was unlicensed and had been found in bad condition, (emaciated and with matted hair) it would be in everyone’s best interest to bring the dog to the county shelter to return to the owner so the dog’s condition could be documented.
Before Jackie could arrange to take the dog to Atlantic County Animal Shelter, another call came in. This one was from Shore Animal Control. They gave a short history on the living environment that the dog escaped from which was ironically, 1261 Scranton Avenue, same address where the Rottweiler had frozen to death.
It was agreed between Shore Animal Control and Jackie that it would be better to go to the Hamilton Township Police Department and return the dog to Kimberlynn Jurkowski in the presence of a humane law enforcement officer.
Then, it got even more convoluted. Northfield Police Department asked to have the dog brought to Northfield instead since the owner did not want to go to Hamilton Township Police Department. She was also threatening lawsuits and charges of theft against everyone if the dog was not brought to her.
Jackie was overwhelmed by so many different people telling her to bring the dog to all different places. What she wanted most was to return the dog in the presence of a humane law enforcement officer. She told Northfield Police that she was not going to drive to Northfield unless they had Shore Animal Control contact her directly and tell her to do so. According to her, they had been the only ones who were consistent and seemed to care about the well-being of the dog.
Hamilton Township Police Department told Shore they had inspected the property (as seen on the body cam footage) that day and there was no cause for worry; the dog should be returned to the owner.
On February 18th, 2019 Jackie took the dog into the lobby of the Northfield Police Department. She told the attending officer what horrible condition the dog was in when she found her. When Kimberlynn Jurkowski met with Jackie, the person who was kind enough to take her dog in, bathe, groom and care for her, she never looked at her, never showed her gratitude, and never even thanked her for taking the dog in off the streets. She never showed any joy or relief at being reunited with the dog. The dog did not look happy either; she just hung her head. When she was asked what the dog’s name was, she replied Gar Gar. So, apparently, Gar Gar was only trying to escape a bad situation.
This was a situation that was more horrific than Jackie was led to believe by the Hamilton Township Police who made it seem like the dog was going back to an acceptable environment. The six days she was allowed to live inside a house and be cared for must’ve been like heaven for her.
But when the Hamilton Township Police removed the three remaining dogs and the one dead one from Scranton Avenue on March 7th, 2019, Gar Gar was not one of them. She is most likely with the owner but unknown where or in what condition she is living.
Jackie was devastated that she returned Gar Gar back to a bad situation. She is hoping the dog may be located and brought to safety. If she hadn’t been a person who wanted to do the right thing by picking the dog up off the street and making efforts to return her to her owner, Gar Gar may have been better off.
Kimberlynn Jurkowski has her first court hearing in the Hamilton Township Court on April 17, 2019.This is not her first time in court. According to a news article, Jurkowski was convicted Oct. 23, 2013, of defrauding the Hamilton Township school district of nearly $24,000 in a tutoring scam.
Unfortunately, we cannot roll back the clock and bring back the dead Rottweiler or make a better decision for Gar Gar. The only good and just thing that can come from this situation will be Kimberlynn Jurkowski being charged on all counts of animal abuse and neglect, and having all remaining dogs including Gar Gar taken from her.
Also, better training is needed for the Hamilton Township Police officers to help them recognize animal neglect and animals in dangerous situations.
To express opinions on this case and how it was handled; calls can be made to the Atlantic County Prosecutor, 609-909-7800.
The Humane Law Enforcement Officer Denise Manino 609-909-7913.
The Hamilton Police Department Mays Landing 609-625-2700.
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