This kitten needs someone willing to take a risk

Aside from having my own pets, I have also enjoyed the rewards and the fun of fostering many, many puppies and kittens during my years with the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter. Along with the good times, there have been moments when those tiny beings have been capable of causing mayhem, destruction and the occasional heartbreak; such are the best things in life.

When it’s time to part with them, to send them off into the world with their new families, I fret over every placement. I find the kittens most difficult to part with because they can be so easily left to their own devices when there are changes in the lives of their human companions, or when it is no longer convenient to care for them. The most recent study I could find was from four years ago, and it found that 1 out of 10 pets adopted from shelters are relinquished within the first year, although I’m sure that doesn’t reflect the cats that are simply put out the door.

If having a pet is not working for the owner, the animal will surely suffer by not receiving adequate care, socialization or training, which may lower his or her chances of being successfully re-homed. The right start for a young pet can be a key to their success in being adopted into a secure home where they can live out their life; that is what our foster program is all about.

My current foster kitten is an absolute keeper! The problem is that I can’t keep him. He originally was brought into the shelter as a 3-month-old stray back in June. He was an adorable, outgoing orange tabby, and we had high hopes of finding him a home quickly. Unfortunately, within a few days of his arrival, he began exhibiting odd movement, little jerky motions and twitching that continued even when he was asleep. Although the staff had named him “Julius” in reference to his classic orange color, I had nicknamed him “Herky Jerky” because of his erratic movements. As upsetting as it was to see him like that, he seemed totally oblivious and was still acting like his normal, playful, loving self. Our veterinarian put him on a steroid and wanted him held for observation; she suspected that it was a reaction to the flea and tick preventative he had been given. He was a staff favorite and the shelter was very full at the time, so I decided to take him home in order to watch him more closely and give him time to recover.

Vaslav

All went well for a couple of weeks. His movements had smoothed out, his steroid was reduced and it seemed the crisis had passed. Then one morning he had a seizure; it took him a couple of hours to return completely back to normal, in that he was lethargic after the incident. The veterinarian put him back on the meds for a couple of weeks and basically said that if he was going to have a problem, it would probably occur within two weeks or so. A month has passed and, thank goodness, he has had no further issues. In spite of his scary start, he has the perfect cat personality. He has just the right amount of kitten orneriness; he is very affectionate but not needy; he is nibby but not annoying; and he shows great social skills with strangers, dogs and other cats.

The problem is, the shelter has 400 other cats and kittens looking for a home as well; what chance does this little guy have? There’s no way to guarantee that an animal will live a long and healthy life even if they’re perfect when they leave the shelter, but “Julius” has a history that may scare away adopters. Chances are he may never have another problem; it’s just a matter of finding someone to take a chance on him.

Source: This kitten needs someone willing to take a risk

How South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in Vineland learned to really know its dogs

The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter has reached out many, many times this summer in need of help with our adoptable dogs. Our shelter has been consistently full, with more dogs arriving in need of our help than we have been able to find homes and rescues for. This has been extremely challenging, and we have wound up with several dogs staying at the shelter for months while we exhaust all of our options to find them homes. Our saving grace during this difficult time has been two things: our amazing volunteers, and dog playgroups!

Dog playgroups are when multiple dogs are brought together into a playgroup for socialization and exercise. It is not a new concept for us, but it has always been a challenge to incorporate it into our regular routines. Last summer, at the Best Friends National Conference, we attended a workshop by Dogs Playing for Life, an organization that teaches shelters how to incorporate playgroups safely and demonstrates the benefits of such a program. This summer, our friends at Camden County Animal Shelter invited us to a workshop led by Dogs Playing for Life expert staff, who walked us through all the ins and outs of playgroups. We held our first official playgroup two days later.

To explain the benefits of playgroups, I will share the words of Aimee Sadler, the founder of Dogs Playing for Life: “Our programs stress the consideration of the whole animal, physically, emotionally, and behaviorally. We treat all animals as individuals. None of our behavior programs discriminate due to breed or category. … There is no doubt that offering a more natural environmental and comprehensive approach helps shelters to better assess behavior, maintain healthy behavior and support better adoption matches.”

Playgroups have now been implemented at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter multiple times a week. It is still a challenge to find time to have staff available for playgroups, while making sure the many, many responsibilities inside the shelter continue to be addressed. But we believe in the validity of the program, so we are working on balancing all of our responsibilities to the animals. We are learning so much more about the dogs we care for. Not only do we get a better idea of how they will respond to other dogs, we are learning about their personalities and seeing different sides of them than we see inside the shelter. We have seen terrified dogs who huddle in the backs of their kennels transform into happy, running, playing dogs – like they are supposed to be. We have seen dogs surprise us with their joy and tolerance for other dogs, while we have learned that some dogs are more particular in their playmates. All of this information helps us make better adoptive matches.

In addition, our volunteers have been spending lots of time with our dogs, ensuring that their time at the shelter is filled not only with play, but structured walks and regular social interactions with people. Volunteers have given us valuable insight into the dogs’ personalities and energy levels, making sure the dogs know how much they are loved while they are with us. Our staff loves the animals, and there are things we do throughout each day to ensure they are comfortable, but we rely on volunteers to get them out to events where they can show off and to give them all those extra moments of love and care that mean so much.

In addition, we have volunteers have taken new and fantastic photos of our adoptable dogs (and cats) that truly capture their personalities and what make them so special. You can find great information about our dogs and cats, as well as beautiful professional photos, on their Petfinder profile and also on our Facebook pages (the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter page and the Second Chances – South Jersey Animals in Need page).

While we are working hard to make the shelter as positive as possible for our animals, the best way to improve their quality of life is to find them homes – and for that we need you! Come to our shelter anytime during business hours to meet our hundreds of pets looking for homes. You also can view most adoptable animals on our website. Tell us about your family and your home, and see which animal will fit in best. Give a chance to the ones who don’t look like you thought they would, who have special needs, who are older than you thought. You may be surprised to find out who steals your heart!

Source: How South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in Vineland learned to really know its dogs

Five ways you can help 520 shelter pets find homes

Bev Greco speaks about animal adoption at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter on Tuesday, September 18. (Photo: Adam Monacelli/Staff Photographer)

VINELAND – Lines of those coming and going seem never-ending at the filled-to-capacity South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter, inundated with pits and kits.

“The overcrowding has been all summer,” Bev Greco, the shelter’s executive director told The Daily Journal on Tuesday. “Every time we turn around, we have kittens coming in the door.”

On Monday, the shelter took in 28 kittens pushing its occupancy up to 427 cats and 93 dogs, many of them pit bulls.

The shelter relies on a network of foster homes and rescue partners from Massachusetts to Delaware to help settle pets into homes. This poses the challenge of longer stays while pets wait for space to become available in other shelters where demand is higher and odds of adoption increase, she said.

Petco awarded the shelter a $40,000 grant to ready pets for transfers. Kittens, for example, must be healthy, weigh at least two pounds and had two rounds of vaccines before they are eligible, Greco said.

Hurricane Florence will likely impact adoptions as area shelters take in animals displaced from hard-hit areas.

“Our transfer partners will be filled up and unable to help us for a while until those animals move through,” Greco said.

Hudson poses for a picture at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter on Tuesday, September 18. He is currently up for adoption.

Hudson poses for a picture at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter on Tuesday, September 18. He is currently up for adoption. (Photo: Adam Monacelli/Staff Photograph)

How you can help:

Adopt: If you can make a long-term commitment, give a pet a home. There’s a special appeal for a bull dog aptly named Picasso due to his unique facial features. The 2-year-old’s been a guest of the shelter for 104 days.

Spay-neuter:  “This makes all the difference in the world,” Greco said. “It’s the one thing our community needs to embrace more.” The shelter offers low-cost clinics and supports trap, neuter and release as way to cut down on litters and ensure cats are vaccinated. The shelter is also encouraging a crackdown on illegal pit bull breeding.

Foster: Providing a temporary home for an animal frees space for the shelter to take in another. As of Tuesday, 38 dogs and 173 cats were in foster care.

Volunteer:  The shelter takes cats and dogs to PetSmart and other adoption events where they might catch the attention of potential adopters and needs help to do so. Saturdays are a prime time when extra help is needed.

Donate: Due to demand, the shelter needs dry cat and kitten food. Donations are also needed to cover  medical expenses for rescue pets. Send checks made out to the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter, 1244 N. Delsea Drive, Vineland, 08360. You may also donate online at www.southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

Deborah M. Marko; 856-563-5256; dmarko@gannettnj.com; Twitter: @dmarko_dj

 

(Photo: Adam Monacelli/Staff Photograph)

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Source: Five ways you can help 520 shelter pets find homes

What will happen to your pets when you die?

On top of the normal onslaught of incoming stray animals during the summer months, South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter also had to provide care for pets whose owners had passed away or become incapacitated. Most of us find it difficult to think of ourselves laid up by injury or illness, or heaven forbid, pushing up daisies; but these things happen, and having a plan for your animals is extremely important. Think of the trauma that pets go through when they lose their human companion, only to have that anguish compounded by finding themselves in a shelter environment because they have no place else to go.

Last week, an elderly gentleman from our area was found deceased in his home; his only relative lives in Vermont. We also learned that his wife had passed away earlier this year. Animal control had been called out to remove the animals from the property when the death was discovered. The couple had one dog and seven cats, although one cat was not immediately found. The animals had been in the house for a few days without care, as the fate of the owner had not been discovered immediately. The owners had no will; no plan was in place for the pets, and the relative was not in a position to take any of them.

This particular case is just the most recent of several that have occurred these past few months. It is particularly vexing because of the number of animals and because of the challenge that their age presents. We also have no history, medical or behavioral, and no names other than that of the dog.

I hate to bring up morbid thoughts, but I hope you will take this story to heart and make a plan for your pets should anything happen to you. At minimum, you should have the name of a local emergency contact in a readily accessible spot along with a folder containing your pet’s veterinary records. At best, have a person designated who is willing to take on temporary or permanent care of your fur babies. Plan for the unexpected, plan for the welfare of your beloved pets and plan for your own peace of mind.

 

Source: What will happen to your pets when you die?

What to know about rabies and pets

One of the big headlines last week was the tragic death of a woman in Delaware who had contracted rabies. This is very rare occurrence in the United States; records from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show just 23 cases in the past decade. At least eight of the people who succumbed to the virus were infected outside of the U.S.

The fatal cases listed in the CDC records were caused by exposures to rabid bats, dogs, one fox and one unknown source. Only eight of the 23 cases were from confirmed bites, and the rest are listed as “contact” or “unknown.” I bring up this particular point because it is extremely important to know that rabies can be spread by the saliva of a rabid animal entering through a scratch or open wound; it does not have to be an actual bite.

The point of exposure for the Delaware woman has yet to be determined. Reports in the media state she had a cat that was current on its rabies vaccine that will be kept under observation for a time. Chances are slim to none that it would have been her pet, as the animal that infected her would certainly have perished by now. The reports indicated there also were feral cats around her property; at this point however, the investigation continues and there is no conclusion as to what type of animal may have transmitted the virus.

Just last month, you may also remember reading about a woman from Salem County who was attacked by a rabid fox. This is an extremely rare occurrence, as there is normally very little contact between humans and foxes. Bats would typically be the more common wild animals to which humans might be exposed.

The bottom line: Rabies is preventable. All dogs and cats should receive regular vaccines for their protection and yours. Free-roaming cats are especially susceptible because they have more opportunities to come in contact with wildlife, so it is very important to have them vaccinated. From January through March, you can get free shots for your animals through municipal clinics. The rest of the year, you can find affordable vaccines at monthly vaccine clinics held here at South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter and at retailers such as Tractor Supply Co. and Petco.

70 birthday candles for an elephant who has defied all expectations, beaten all the odds, and survived more than one elephant should. Animalkind, USA TODAY

It’s rarely necessary, but humans can be treated successfully for the virus. It is simply a matter of receiving care immediately after the exposure. Horror stories used to circulate about the archaic treatment of inserting needles into the abdomen; this is no longer the practice. Most commonly, bites or bad scratches require a thorough cleaning, a tetanus shot if needed, and stitches when indicated.

Wounds from animals should always be taken seriously and handled by medical professionals. Also, remember also that any close encounters with wildlife should be reported to your local animal control officer or police department.

 

Source: What to know about rabies and pets

Scary rescue: Dog gets head caught in plastic container, can’t breathe

Every year, thousands of animals come through our doors at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter. They arrive on leashes, in carriers, laundry baskets, vegetable crates, cardboard boxes and many other more imaginative forms of conveyance. Some of the incoming animals weigh a few ounces, others as much as a couple hundred pounds. We have even had a shopping bag of goldfish left on our counter. The circumstances under which pets have been brought to us are also quite varied, and last week we had a couple of very interesting deliveries.

Early in the week when the days were sickeningly hot and humid, one of the animal control officers (ACOs) came in with a big, charcoal gray mutt who was wobbling along on a leash. The dog was unsteady on his feet and his eyes were sort of bouncing around. Quite frankly, the ACO looked a little worse for the wear, too, but when he started relaying the dog’s story, I understood why.

She ran in to call for help, and fortunately the ACO was able to respond quickly. By the time he got there, the dog was flat out and the homeowner was trying to free him of the container while hosing him down to try to keep him from suffering a heatstroke. Thankfully, the rescuers had come in the nick of time and were able to get his head free and his body temperature down.

“Pretzel,” as he came to be known by our staff, was incredibly lucky that he wandered into the yard of someone who happened to be home and quick to respond to his predicament. I should also mention that these kind homeowners came to the shelter and checked on him later that day and the next afternoon. Fortunately, by their second visit, he was already back home. It turns out that Pretzel’s real name is Dallas, and he was found about a half-mile from where he wandered off.

Another lucky guy, a little poodle mix, also suffered a brush with death but managed to escape with just some bad bruising. The dog was

Gandolf

discovered near our front door, tied up to a tent post that had been erected for the Clear the recent Shelters event. One of our staff members was arriving very early that morning and saw a woman walk away from the dog, get into her car and drive off. It happened so quickly that our staff member was unable to intercede before she realized what was happening. It seemed like just another case of someone abandoning an animal, as we often find pets tied up or left in a box outside our doors. Once we got him inside, although his fuzzy coat had hidden it, we realized he was pretty banged up. The veterinarian that does daily rounds for us took a look at him and it was determined that he had most probably been “rolled” by a car and that X-rays would be needed to rule out any broken bones. As we were making plans to get him out to a veterinary hospital, in walked Alvin’s owners; he had run off from home that Friday night. It’s probable that the lady who tied him up had been the one to find him and simply didn’t know what to do with him in the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully she got him off the street and to a safe place.

Animals will be animals, and it is impossible to keep them out of mischief sometimes. If you happen to be sitting next to your pet while you’re reading this, perhaps you can have a conversation with him or her about the morals of these stories. First, NEVER leave the yard. And second, keep your head out of the treat jar!

Don’t forget, if you should lose your pet, call the shelter immediately. You also can file a lost report online at southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

Source: Scary rescue: Dog gets head caught in plastic container, can’t breathe

Clearing the shelter with an open mind

2018 is the first year that the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter participated in NBC10/Telemundo’s national Clear the Shelters event. Across the nation, hundreds of shelters participate in hopes of finding homes for the many pets that fill our shelters. The event is scheduled for the time of year when intake is especially high, providing the home many sheltered animals have been waiting for and opening up more space for incoming animals that need care. Since 2015, over 200,000 animals have been adopted through Clear the Shelters days. 

Shelters are able to participate in a variety of ways. For our shelter, we determined that discounting adoption fees was the best way. We believe a modest adoption fee encourages some thought about not only the adoption itself, but the future care that the animal will require. In addition, adoption applications were still processed as usual – we just had all hands on deck to speed up the process to enable animals to go home the same day. While we wanted to clear our shelter, we also wanted to make sure animals were going to great homes! 

For South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter, the event was a nice success. Fifteen dogs were adopted, as well as 22 cats and kittens. There was an air of excitement around the shelter before and during the event; volunteers and staff were energized and excited to be part of something that could potentially benefit so many of our animals. And it felt really great to know that, at the end of the day, 37 animals were sleeping in homes rather than cages. And we now have a lot of interest of in other animals remaining in the shelter, who will hopefully be going home soon!

The event, however, is not without controversy. Many animal advocates are rightfully concerned about free adoptions. They worry that it devalues animals and they will end up the victims of cruelty. Recently, this fire was fueled by a story about a dog that was adopted at a “free adoptions” event and tragically died shortly thereafter. Initially, stories were reported that the dog had been terribly abused and killed; new reports have emerged that debunk that story. What really happened has yet to be determined. This story was used as an example as why free adoptions are bad. While this is a horrific example of something that went wrong, we have to be careful not to use a single story to represent an entire effort. In a world where there are millions of homeless animals who need homes, we have to keep our minds open and try to move forward with positive attitudes. If we choose to focus on the negative, we risk more than just this one particular event; we run the risk of turning down good adoptions based on fear.

Working in shelters for over 10 years, I have seen adoptions that I surely thought would fail wind up wildly successful. I have also seen adoptions that, on the surface, seemed perfect – lovely families, plenty of resources, great photo material – that wind up as miserable failures, in which the animal comes back in terrible condition. 

For years now, the animal sheltering community has changed its stance on many formerly taboo topics (free adoptions, adoptions at Christmas, black cat adoptions at Halloween), and most of these reversals are based on research. If you have been a supporter of our shelter, you have seen our processes change to make our shelter more community-oriented. We believe that removing restrictions for adoptions makes the shelter more community friendly – and we need our community! 

Clear the Shelters is over for this year, but we still hope that our community will rise and help make the rest of the year a success. Dozens of animals remain at the shelter in need of adoptive homes, our foster and volunteer programs are always seeking new participants, we continue to work with rescue partners near and far, and we have even more exciting developments coming up. We welcome you to be part of the solution to the homeless animal problem in our community.

 

Source: Clearing the shelter with an open mind

 

Take your dog on a date to the Jersey Shore

Summer is slipping away and September will be upon us before you know it. Hopefully that should bring more moderate temperatures and the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the late summer and early fall evenings. It’s a great time to get out with the dogs and take a nice walk; maybe get back into the routine that may have gotten spoiled by the heat and humidity we’ve been suffering.

I have a suggestion that might give you a little incentive to get out of the house: How about a doggy date night?

We are very lucky to live in an area that has easy access to the beach, and Cape May offers a lot in terms of dog-friendly activities. As the crowds diminish and the thermometer and dew points get a little lower, the shore is a great place to spend an evening. Although pets are not permitted on the boardwalk (which is not actually boards in Cape May) or on the mall, there are still nice places to walk dogs.

If you prefer not to get sand in your shoes, the streets of downtown Cape May make for a great walking tour, especially if you appreciate the beauty of well-preserved Victorian homes. I have walked my dogs there since they were puppies, using the experience as a training tool in both walking and social skills. The setup is perfect for teaching them to heel, sit and stay at intersections, and handle dog interactions as other pets go by. As is true in any vacation spot, tourists tend to make a fuss over dogs, which is a useful tool in that you can walk 50 feet and meet 10 different people who want to say hello to your furry companion. Flooded with a rapid succession new people to meet, dogs tend to settle into the routine and become more comfortable and able to control their excitement. Repeating the process of having them sit and stay to greet each new person is the perfect training routine.

If you are going to do all that walking, you also may need something to eat. There are several restaurants right in the heart of town with outdoor patios that allow your dogs to dine with you. You can have anything from a fine dining experience, like the Blue Pig Tavern or Tisha’s, to pizza at Mario’s and then ice cream at Kohr Brothers. Google “Bring Fido” for a more complete list of dog-friendly eateries, hotels, parks and other activities open to your pets.

Dogs need both physical exercise and mental stimulation; these are essential to having a healthy, well-balanced pet. Getting them out to new places is very beneficial in allowing them to utilize all of their senses while honing their social skills. Cape May is a really nice place to have an enjoyable evening with your best buddy and great place for him or her (or them) to get out and have some fun!

 

Source: Take your dog on a date to the Jersey Shore

What you should do if you suspect animal cruelty

Now that our organization is no longer investigating reports of animal cruelty, there has been some confusion on whom to call when people have concerns about an animal’s welfare. If you suspect cruelty or neglect of a pet, your first call should be to your local police department. At that point, the initial response will probably be handled by the municipality’s animal control officer (ACO), and either corrected or turned over to a police officer if prosecution is required. The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office along with our state and local police departments are working hard to meet the demands of this new caseload. It will require an adjustment period as these agencies must receive training in regards to the statutes and acquire knowledge and assistance with pet health issues.

The ACOs in Cumberland and Salem counties are experienced professionals in companion animal welfare and laws. Although they do not have, and have not had, the authority to enforce animal cruelty laws, they have the knowledge to handle the preliminary stages of an investigation and call in the necessary powers. They are also responsible for laws and ordinances pertaining to licensing, animals running at large, bite cases, and lost and found pets.

To sum this all up, please keep these few things in mind:

  • Call your local police department to report suspected cases of animal cruelty or neglect. Do not take matters into your own hands.
  • Pets are considered property. You can be charged with theft if you keep a stray without going through the proper channels.
  • The current enforcement system for animal cruelty laws is new in the state of New Jersey. It will take time for things to be ironed out and handled smoothly.
  • The animals still need you to be their advocate and their voice. Don’t hesitate to call the shelter if you need advice or assistance in helping an animal in need.

Source: What you should do if you suspect animal cruelty

Now’s the best time to adopt a kitten in Cumberland County, NJ

Guess what? It’s cat and kitten adoption time! The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter is kicking off our Cat-pacity Promotion. Throughout the promotion, you can adopt a kitten for only $50, or you can double you pleasure and take home two kittens for $80! You also can adopt any cat over 6 months old for only $25!

If you have been thinking about adding a feline friend to your home, now is the time. If you haven’t been thinking about it, get thinking! The shelter is currently caring for over 365 cats and kittens. With this amount from which to choose, there is certainly a feline for you.

Why kittens are good pets

You may be seeking the excitement that kittens bring. Nothing will make you smile like the antics of a kitten. Your entire house will be their playground, and periods of circus-like antics will be punctuated with periods of deep sleeping, often in adorable positions, snuggled up with other pets or family members. Adopting two kittens is a great option, because they really will help to keep each other occupied. Every moment a kitten spends rolling around with another kitten is a moment that they are not shredding your toilet paper roll or climbing your curtains. Kittens really do find the companionship of another mate beneficial.

Adult cats better for some homes

However, for some families, an adult cat may be a better choice. Since all adult cats, 6 months to seniors, are included in our promotion, your choices are unlimited.  A 6-month-old cat provides lots of kitten fun, just toned down slightly. An adult cat is likely to be a little bit calmer, yet have plenty of energy and fun and companionship to share with you for years to come.

However, for those looking for quiet companionship and wanting to truly save a life, consider adopting a senior cat. We currently have five senior cats looking for homes:

  • Reese: Beautiful and sweet 9-year-old calico short-hair.
  • Doc Brown: Ruggedly handsome 10-year-old gray and white long-hair.
  • Gandolf:  Sweet and sassy 7-year-old calico tabby short-hair.
  • Oscar:  Easygoing 8-year-old black short-hair.
  • Princess: Beautiful 10-year-old tabby and white short-hair.

Whatever you are looking for, we almost certainly have the cat or kitten for you.  From beautiful Lynx-Point Siamese “Joy” to kittens of all shapes and sizes and colors, to seniors, to every personality you can imagine, there is a feline friend who is waiting in a cage for you to take them home. Please come to the shelter anytime during business hours or visit our adoptable cats and kittens at PetSmart in Millville to meet your new feline friend.

(Also, for the “dog people” out there, our long-term resident promotion is still in effect. Diamond, Juelz, Picasso and Rusty are still looking for homes.)

Source: Now’s the best time to adopt a kitten in Cumberland County, NJ