They say no good deed goes unpunished. A local woman who helped animals impacted by Hurricane Sandy is learning that the hard way.
Laura Pople provided shelter for about 150 cats and dogs separated from their families during Sandy, taking them into her Jackson Township home.
“I’m committed to the families,” she said. “I’m committed to the animals.”
The pets come to Pople’s home through Seer Farms, a non-profit organization that she runs, which cares for animals of families in crisis until they can get back on their feet.
Just last month however, Jackson Township cited Pople for “running an illegal kennel in a residential area.”
“This is not a kennel,” said Pople. “This is my home and we provide foster care.”
According to the township’s business administrator, the local zoning officer has informed Pople of laws on animal facilities for the past three years. The administrator says the violations were issued after Pople failed to apply for a land use variance as well as complaints from her neighbors. One of those neighbors is Richard Cusumano.
“It’s not about the animals,” he said. “It’s about what they’re doing. It has obviously reduced the value of my home.”
Pople says she’s “not sure” if she’s in compliance with the township ordinances. She is scheduled for a court appearance next week. She also says she hopes to have a conversation with the Jackson Township mayor before then.
In the meantime, Pople has gained plenty of support. An online petition drive is urging the township to allow the animals to stay.