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

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

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

If you love dogs, don’t let one be loneliest number

One of the biggest challenges in animal sheltering is finding placement for dogs who need to be the only dog in the household.

We really need to talk about dogs getting along with other dogs.

One of the biggest challenges in animal sheltering is finding placement for dogs who need to be the only dog in the household. It doesn’t mean they are unadoptable and it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them, but for some reason it makes it almost impossible to find them a home.

First, let’s talk about how we determine if a dog would do well in a home with other dogs. The first thing we do is look at the animal’s history, if we have access to it. Did they live or interact with other dogs? What sex and size were those dogs? How comfortable were they together?

There are a couple pieces of information we are looking for with the dog meet. First, we want to know how the dog reacts to seeing the other dog. If it’s immediately aggressive, that is concerning and we typically have to stop the meet for their safety. These dogs typically are not considered adoptable due to safety concerns.

But there are some dogs who just don’t do well with other dogs. It may be outright aggression, it may be defensiveness after surviving an attack, it may be resource guarding or it may be just a simple preference to not be messed with by another dog. Whatever the reason is, once they are labeled “only-dog,” their chances of finding a home decrease dramatically.

It doesn’t need to be that way. There are many, many homes out there that do not desire to have multiple dogs. It would be amazing if these families would consider some of our wonderful pups and see how much they have to offer. Having one dog allows you to really focus on the needs of that dog, and likely do more together. It’s also fewer vet bills to worry about.

Adopters should keep in mind that just because they need to live as an only-pet now, that doesn’t mean that once they relax out of the shelter and become more settled, that they won’t feel differently. Or that they can’t be around other dogs at social events. It all depends on your particular dog.

If you are looking for a special dog to be your one and only, consider Diamond, a beautiful pittie who lived with another dog for years and now prefers not to share the spotlight. She sure does have a lot of love to share. Take her out and she’ll give you her paw as a promise to be best friends. You also could check out Rusty, a little guy with a lot of potential. The shelter is stressful for Rusty, so it’s hard for him to be around other dogs at this time. But he’s otherwise a fun, young pup with a lot of love to share. Either of these dogs is sure to fill your heart.

Source: If you love dogs, don’t let one be loneliest number

Some heroes wear leashes instead of capes

The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in Vineland has dogs of all shapes and sizes — dogs who aren’t going to ever judge you.

It was a heroic week in the world of dogs! Two really cool stories about dogs rescuing their owners came through last week. It’s wonderful to see some positive press about dogs, especially because one of these dogs is a bully breed, which is typically featured in a negative light in the media. The other dog is a special-needs senior.

The special-needs senior, a cattle dog named Max, became a hero when his 3-year-old girl became lost in the Australian bush. Clearly, this is an extremely dangerous situation. The little girl was fortunate that Max followed her and stayed with her through the night. The next day, Max was able to find the girl’s grandmother and lead her back to the child to rescue her. Amazingly, Max is 17 years old, deaf and partially blind. None of his disabilities stopped him when his girl needed help. The local police department responded by making Max an honorary police officer.

Sasha is an 8-month-old pit bull who saved her entire family from a fire in California. Her family claims they don’t typically keep Sasha outside, but that night she happened to be outside and was the first one alerted to the presence of the quick-moving fire. Sasha created a fuss, banging on the door and barking until her owner woke up. As soon as the owner opened the door to see what was going on, Sasha bolted past her, up the stairs and into the room of the 7-month-old baby. Before the owner even realized what was happening, Sasha had grabbed the baby by the diaper and was removing him from the danger. Thanks to Sasha’s alertness, although their apartment was destroyed, the entire family remained safe.

Doing a quick internet search will reveal many, many instances in which dogs heroically rescued people. Police and military dogs take on rescue missions every single day; heroism is part of their job description. There are other dogs who are more quietly heroic – therapy dogs who improve people’s quality of life, service dogs who guide the blind and sense impending medical emergencies. There are dogs who comfort victims of trauma and dogs who help kids learn to read.

Even “regular” dogs can be heroes. Working at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter, I have the pleasure of being able to talk to many families about their experiences with pets. Many times, I have heard, “This dog saved my life.” It may not be a rescue from a fire, but sometimes a pet can provide the type of support that allows people at their lowest to keep going. A pet reminds them that they are needed and valuable; their pet needs them to take care of them. A pet provides comfort at any time during the day or night. There is just nothing quite like a pet.

Where do these hero dogs come from? Well, they can come from anywhere. But the best place to find your own personal hero is the shelter. The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in Vineland has dogs of all shapes and sizes; dogs who aren’t going to ever judge you, and just want to be your family and be there for you. If you find yourself feeling lost or in need of companionship, the animal shelter is the place you need to go.

Source: Some heroes wear leashes instead of capes

What to do when cats are difficult to adopt

We’re going to bounce around a little bit in this column so that we can give you a couple of reminders and updates. First, as the warm weather has FINALLY graced us with its presence, it has brought the ticks with it. The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter staff is seeing more and more of these pests on dogs coming into the shelter. With the uptick (no pun intended!) in tick-borne diseases, it is imperative for the health of your dog that you have him or her on a good external parasite preventative. Most external parasite treatments handle both fleas as well as ticks, and the fleas won’t be far behind. You can purchase the preventative treatments at the shelter, pet supply stores, vet offices and online. We always suggest that you consult with your veterinarian before starting treatment.

If you’ve been outdoors enjoying this nice weather, you also may have noticed all of the insects seem to have emerged overnight. I saw mosquitoes in my garden last week, which means your dog may be at risk of contracting heartworm disease if not on the preventative medication. Heartworm disease is fatal if not treated, but it’s easily preventable. You must take your dog to a veterinarian to get this medication, as it is not available over the counter.

Our foster homes are still filled with kittens who are not old enough to be placed in their permanent homes yet, and we are receiving more every day. We are always looking to recruit new foster homes and hope that you will consider learning about the impact you can have in saving the lives of pets in need by providing temporary care. Fostering can involve dogs or cats – whichever you are comfortable with – and may include an individual animal or a litter, according to your abilities. To learn about fostering, email our foster coordinator at fosters@southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

Finally, the shelter’s low-cost vaccine clinics begin on May 19 and will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on the third Saturday of every month from now through October. Dogs and cats are welcome at the clinics. Dogs must be on short leashes with secure collars or harnesses. Cats MUST be in secure carriers. Rabies, distemper and Bordetella vaccines are available. If you want a three-year rabies vaccine, you must bring proof of the prior vaccine. Flea and tick preventatives are available at the clinics. We carry Provecta for dogs, which contains four monthly doses for $30; and Catego for cats, which contains three monthly doses for $35. Cash or credit cards are accepted. Our low-cost spay/neuter clinic is available every week; appointments can be made at the shelter or online. You can find us online at southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

Source: What to do when cats are difficult to adopt

Tick, tick, tick … Protect your pet from these pests

We’re going to bounce around a little bit in this column so that we can give you a couple of reminders and updates. First, as the warm weather has FINALLY graced us with its presence, it has brought the ticks with it. The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter staff is seeing more and more of these pests on dogs coming into the shelter. With the uptick (no pun intended!) in tick-borne diseases, it is imperative for the health of your dog that you have him or her on a good external parasite preventative. Most external parasite treatments handle both fleas as well as ticks, and the fleas won’t be far behind. You can purchase the preventative treatments at the shelter, pet supply stores, vet offices and online. We always suggest that you consult with your veterinarian before starting treatment.

If you’ve been outdoors enjoying this nice weather, you also may have noticed all of the insects seem to have emerged overnight. I saw mosquitoes in my garden last week, which means your dog may be at risk of contracting heartworm disease if not on the preventative medication. Heartworm disease is fatal if not treated, but it’s easily preventable. You must take your dog to a veterinarian to get this medication, as it is not available over the counter.

Our foster homes are still filled with kittens who are not old enough to be placed in their permanent homes yet, and we are receiving more every day. We are always looking to recruit new foster homes and hope that you will consider learning about the impact you can have in saving the lives of pets in need by providing temporary care. Fostering can involve dogs or cats – whichever you are comfortable with – and may include an individual animal or a litter, according to your abilities. To learn about fostering, email our foster coordinator at fosters@southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

Finally, the shelter’s low-cost vaccine clinics begin on May 19 and will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on the third Saturday of every month from now through October. Dogs and cats are welcome at the clinics. Dogs must be on short leashes with secure collars or harnesses. Cats MUST be in secure carriers. Rabies, distemper and Bordetella vaccines are available. If you want a three-year rabies vaccine, you must bring proof of the prior vaccine. Flea and tick preventatives are available at the clinics. We carry Provecta for dogs, which contains four monthly doses for $30; and Catego for cats, which contains three monthly doses for $35. Cash or credit cards are accepted. Our low-cost spay/neuter clinic is available every week; appointments can be made at the shelter or online. You can find us online at southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

Source: Tick, tick, tick … Protect your pet from these pests

Difficult choice at shelter when pregnant cats arrive

While everybody else in the world was celebrating the beautiful burst of warm weather, at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter we were bracing ourselves. Warm weather means kittens – and all the stress and urgency that come along with them. For weeks, we have looked at our empty cages and enjoyed every moment, knowing that the end was close. The sunshine and high temperatures brought on exactly what we expected, and in the past week we were introduced to over 35 homeless kittens who entered our shelter or were born there.

I feel like I must have written about kitten season dozens of times, but today I’m going to broach a topic that is one of the most difficult and thought-provoking of all issues brought up by kitten season.  However, before you continue reading, you must understand what kitten season looks like in an open-intake shelter. You must picture every cage filled with cats and kittens, and animal control arriving with yet another cage filled that need a place to stay.

So one must understand that kitten season is about making the best of your situation, properly caring for your animals, and working hard to save as many lives as possible. And while we have increased our lifesaving rates by thousands, and euthanasia is at its lowest rate ever, we are still constantly faced with difficult situations.

Billy Madison

What is the correct thing to do when a cat arrives pregnant? While my sentimental side shouts that every life is precious, the logical side of me knows that allowing a pregnant cat to deliver only causes more problems. We struggle already to find placement for mom cats with infant kittens. And when we do find placement, that home will be tied up for at least eight weeks caring for mom and kittens while they grow and wean. This puts kittens who have already been born at risk. If mom is spayed, not only can we focus our resources and efforts toward kittens who are already alive, but mom will be ready to be adopted in just a few short days, rather than weeks. The bottom line is that the reason kitten season is so devastating is because of the sheer volume of cats and kittens. While spaying pregnant cats can be difficult to accept, we have to take the responsible path by exercising population control, which ultimately allows us to save more lives.

We encourage everyone at this time to be proactive and do your part by getting cats spayed and neutered.

Now.

Now is the time – just last week, four cats on stray holds (we can’t spay them during their legal stray hold) have given birth at the shelter. We couldn’t even tell that one was pregnant! There’s no reason for pet cats not to be spayed or neutered, and we encourage citizens to help by making sure neighborhood cats are also spayed and neutered. There are many resources for getting community cats fixed; prices are often discounted and traps can be loaned. Appointments can be made at our clinic by stopping at shelter or visit our website. Aside from our clinic, there are other excellent, low-cost options at the People for Animals clinic in Gloucester County, Camden County Animal Shelter or Animal Welfare Association in Camden County, or the Atlantic County SPCA. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

As one can imagine, with the sudden arrival of so many kittens, we are in urgent need of supplies. We desperately need KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) and also need Snuggle Safes (microwaveable heat pads). We also seek new families to help us save lives by fostering. Fill out our online foster application and contact Fosters@cumberlandcountyspca.org for more information.

Source: Difficult choice at shelter when pregnant cats arrive

What you need to know before getting a dog

Over the past several years, pet insurance has become more and more popular. There are now a dozen insurance companies in the U.S. that offer policies for cats, dogs and even some exotic pets. Like all insurances, I’d rather stick hot needles in my eyes than try to understand how and when they kick in, and how much should be invested in them. Unless you choose a purebred pet, such as an English Bulldog, that is almost guaranteed to need lifelong extensive veterinary care, it’s a gamble as to whether it will be worth it in the animal’s lifespan.

I mention English Bulldogs because they can be one of the most expensive breeds to own – a factor that should be seriously considered when choosing a pet. Bulldogs are bred to be brachycephalic, or extremely short-snouted, which can result in respiratory problems and skin issues in the folds around their mouth. Their common problems also include severe skin allergies, eczema, degenerative spine disease, cherry eye and hip dysplasia, just to name a few. People love their sad, pushed-in faces, their broad shoulders and short stubby legs, but these are the things that set them up for big problems.

His misfortune in being picked up by the dog catcher and ending up in the “pokey,” so to speak, turned out to be a stroke of luck for him. We’re working on finding the resources and advocates needed to get his medical issues addressed and to make sure that he’s monitored regularly. Whether that happens through his owner or through rescue has yet to be determined, but either way, he will receive the care that he needs.

English Bulldogs are one of the breeds whose medical challenges are extreme, but any time you are considering a specific breed it’s imperative that you understand as much as possible about the health issues that may be common to them. Being ill-prepared for such considerations often leaves pets suffering poor health, and gets owners in over their heads financially. For breeds who are predisposed to medical issues, pet insurance is a no-brainer and could be the difference between putting down a pet and being able to afford expensive veterinary services.

 Plans generally cost anywhere from $10 to $40 per month, according to what coverage you choose, but can be more expensive for some pure breed pets. There are plans covering only accidents/injuries, which are on the cheaper end; plans that cover illness and disease in the mid-range; and those that cover all conditions at the high end. Premiums also may be affected by gender and the cost of living in your area. Whether you choose to insure your pet or not, it’s always a good idea to set aside money for both regular veterinary care and the unexpected. Annual costs including office visits, vaccines and parasite treatments can run a few hundred dollars in and of themselves. There are good resources for comparing plans on the internet, and your vet’s office may be able to offer some advice as well.

Source: What you need to know before getting a dog