Holy moly! If you read the column last week, you know that I was pacing the floors waiting for my foster dog to deliver her pups. It turned out to be a VERY LONG wait. Throughout the day she was restless, up and down, in and out of the closet that she chose for her “birthing suite.” We knew by 6:30 in the morning that she was ready and we were vigilant all day, but by 11 o’clock that night, I was exhausted and nothing was happening.I finally decided to try to get some rest. She had other ideas.At midnight, I heard a decisive yelp from the closet and, sure enough, the first pup was working his way out. I had never heard a mother dog cry out during delivery, but I have read that they experience contractions much like human mothers and therefore must have similar pain. She cried out two more times with the second and third pups, but after that she seemed to settle in and take the deliveries with stride. I think she is a first (and last!) time mother, so her agitation and lack of experience probably added to her discomfort.
A little after 3 a.m., she finally delivered the last of her eight – yes, EIGHT – puppies. That’s a very large litter for such a little dog. As I stated last week, I was sure that she was either carrying a few big pups or a lot of little ones, but I didn’t expect EIGHT! Typically, small dogs have small litters; five would be considered large for them. The last puppy took the longest between births, and by that time she seemed to be exhausted and lay down, almost nodding off, until a few seconds before the last little girl popped out.After she had finished removing the sack from the pup and getting her settled, I wanted to get mama cleaned up and get her outside. I felt terrible, because it was the night that it snowed and I hated like heck having to send her out in it, even for a minute, with what she had been through. I needn’t have worried. After letting her out, I peeked through the window to make sure she was getting off the deck and doing her business. Imagine my surprise when I spotted her doing the “snow plow,” running her chin and belly through the new snow and rolling in it excitedly on her back. She came back in and was zipping around, acting crazy, like dogs do when they have just had a bath. She drank some water, ate a huge predawn breakfast and finally retired with her new babies for a few hours.In spite of her being new to motherhood, she has been fantastic with the puppies. She probably will weigh in at 13 or 14 pounds after her milk is dried up, but right now she’s eating more in the course of a day than my 85-pound sheep dog does. She gets a cup of kibble and a half-cup of canned food three times a day, snacks on dry food in between, and gets a handful of treats at bedtime. Eating for nine is obviously a big job!
The puppies will be ready for adoption around Valentine’s Day, and I will keep you updated on their progress as they mature. Right now, they look like little bubble-headed mice, with eyes not yet open and just able to slither around a little on their bellies. Check out thedailyjournal.com for a video! Those of us at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter hope that you are enjoying your family and friends over this holiday season and please keep in mind that we have many pets here that are waiting still for a safe, warm and loving home like yours.
For the past nine years, the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has held a Dog of the Year competition, and it has been one of the most successful fundraisers in the history of our organization. The contest is run with 12 of our adoptees vying to raise the most money to support the animals we are currently caring for in the shelter. It’s a wonderful way for the adopters of these beloved pets to show off their candidates while helping to ensure the future of homeless pets.This year’s format was a bit different in that the dogs in the contest all belonged to our staff and board members. Whether in the hallways of the shelter or out in the cyber world, it made for some rough and tumble competition! When it was all said and done, the winner of the competition was none other than Rosco, a classy and dignified Schnauzer belonging to the president of our board of directors
Rosco originally came to us as a stray from Carneys Point back in April 2011. A middle-age adult at that time, he was purebred, perfectly groomed, perfectly behaved, housebroken and mannerly. None of us could ever understand why no one ever came to look for this perfect little guy. Even after 30 years in this industry, I am amazed at the animals that are never reclaimed by their original owners. We receive a very large percentage of stray pets that have obviously been well cared for, trained and loved, yet no one comes looking. Well, apparently it was meant to be because that person’s loss was his new mom’s gain; a more perfect match was never made.
Rosemary and Rosco became constant companions. He was stubborn, independent and had a mind of his own; yet, he was well-behaved, loving and always up for a new adventure. He loved car rides and, when it was time to buy a new vehicle, the back seat had to have just the right set-up for Rosco to ride comfortably and it had to afford him a great view. He loved long walks, going to the dog park, and sniffing every blade of grass and every tree trunk he came across. Being so well-traveled, he also became widely known and loved by many. It was a successful adoption in every way, shape and form.They were the perfect team to enter the Dog of the Year competition and they blew everyone out of the water, raising over $6,000. Sadly, though, in a heartbreaking turn of events, Rosco became ill during the summer and in spite of receiving the very best veterinary care, they were not able determine the source of his problem and he did not survive. It is a horrible thing to lose your four-legged soulmate. It is especially hard when they go before their time.A new study published Friday found dog owners generally had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death, compared to those who didn’t own a dog. Video provided by Newsy NewslookHis victory as Dog of the Year is bittersweet, but it is gratifying to know that he was loved and celebrated. For everyone involved in the contest, it was a very emotional end to wonderful year of competition and camaraderie.
Overall, the 2017 contest raised $18,000; the fight was so fierce that the third-, fourth- and fifth-place winners were with $16 of each other. We’re very proud of our two-legged competitors; they are comprised of a highly dedicated group of people who truly go the extra mile for the shelter.
The funds raised this year bring the total of the DOY contest over the years to more than $150,000. Imagine all the animals that have been saved by those efforts. Thanks to all of you who helped support the candidates with your donations – we appreciate your kindness.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report states approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs, and an additional 400,000 by cats, annually in the United States. These are only the cases that are reported; undoubtedly, there are many other bites that either did not require medical care or were omitted from the records that the CDC uses to compile its data. These statistics do not include bites from other species or serious scratches that require medical care.Whether a bite or scratch from an animal seems serious or not, it should always be cleaned immediately and thoroughly. Aside from the outside risk of being infected with rabies, of those 4.5 million dog bites, 900,000 of those victims end up with infections from their wounds. Cat scratch fever results in about 100,000 hospital visits each year. These statistics alone should be enough to convince you to take animal-related injuries seriously. But I also want to make you aware of a recent change in Trenton that makes it more important than ever that you report any encounters resulting in open wounds from animals, especially those from animals that may not be vaccinated against rabies.
Let’s start with the general process. When a person suffers an open wound from an animal, it should be reported to the local health department; doctor’s offices and hospitals are actually required to do so. At that point, in the case of a domestic animal that is in the hands of its owner or has been impounded at a shelter, the health department puts a 10-day quarantine hold on the cat or dog. The animal is observed during that period for any signs of illness that might indicate rabies. If the offending animal is a wild animal that can be captured, or a domestic animal that is showing signs of illness, the health department may determine it should be tested for rabies. In New Jersey, from Jan. 1 through June 30 of this year, 78 animals tested positive for the disease: Raccoons were first, with 48 infections; skunks, second with 12; and cats, third with 11.More: How to plan a pet-friendly vacationMore: Menantico Road in Vineland reopensHere’s where the change comes into play. In the past, samples from the infected animals were sent to labs in Trenton and the results would typically be back in two days. Due to some change in the preparedness of our state lab, samples are now sent from Trenton to an out-of-state lab and the results are not available for about five days. This is significant because if you suffer a scratch or bite that breaks skin by an animal that may have rabies, you must start treatment by having a series of rabies vaccines within three days of the bite.
A couple of weeks ago, one of our staff members at the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was scratched on a Thursday by a kitten that came had come in with some neurological symptoms. The local health department responded accordingly, and this was the first we learned of the delay in receiving test results. The kitten tested negative, but it was the following Wednesday before word came back from the state, and our technician already had to start the human vaccine series.
Please keep your own animals current on their rabies vaccines and be quick to address any open wounds from animals that you or your family might suffer.
Source: Dog bites: What should I do?
We have more exciting announcements from the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This past weekend, we featured the grand opening of the Kitten Nursery. If you didn’t get a chance to stop in, the nursery will remain set up throughout kitten season, so please stop in anytime! We also are continuing our Kitten Shower for donations and featuring our promotion in which if you adopt one cat or kitten you can adopt a second for free.This week’s exciting updates are for the dogs – literally. We have introduced two new exciting programs for our volunteers to share with our adoptable dogs: sleepovers and outings! The goal is to let our adoptable dogs shine in a new light. We know that what you see is not necessarily what you get when it comes to viewing dogs at the shelter. Adopters are making their initial (and most important) impressions of the dogs when they walk through the kennels and see them inside their cages. This is when the dogs are typically the most excited; and while jumping and barking are normal kennel-related behaviors, adopters often may think that the dog is out of control. Their excitement only escalates when they are picked to be taken out, and it can be hard for them to be on their best behavior for that extremely important first meeting with their potential family.
Taking the dogs out of the shelter environment is a great way to show them off and to decrease their stress. Outings are short-term trips in which a volunteer picks up a dog and takes him or her out for any amount of time. This may be a quick trip to the drive-thru on their lunch break, a walk through the park or a long ride in the car. We hope that community members will see the dogs out and about think of them as more than shelter dogs – they will see them as potential exercise partners, companions and family members. They will see their potential and hopefully be eager to take them home. Volunteers will act as adoption facilitators while they are out; anyone interested will be able to speak to the volunteer to learn more about the dog’s personality and the next step they would need to take to adopt. So if you see someone with an SPCA T-shirt or a dog with an “Adopt Me” vest, please don’t hesitate to say hello.
We’re also hoping to improve the dog’s quality of life by encouraging our volunteers to take them home for sleepovers. We all recognize the value of vacation, even a short one, and especially when times are tough. Sleepovers are a vacation for our dogs, a break from everything that creates stress in a shelter situation. They are a chance to receive some extra love and attention in a home environment, and also an opportunity for us to get a better feel for who these dogs really are. We’re looking forward to sharing some more valuable information and fun photos about the dogs based on what our volunteers learn from them at sleepovers. Right now, you must be trained volunteer in order to take a dog for an outing or a sleepover. We encourage anyone who is interested in joining these exciting new programs to join our volunteer program. In addition to outings and sleepovers, our volunteers help by walking dogs and cuddling cats at the shelter, helping at special events and providing valuable help with jobs around the shelter.
And we have more opportunities to come. You can contact Volunteers@cumberlandcountyspca.org for volunteers 18 years of age or older and Jrvolunteers@cumberlandcountyspca.org for volunteers age 8 to 17. The more volunteers we have, the more we can accomplish! The animals need our help, and we’re excited to offer these new and fun opportunities. And whenever you are out and about in the community, consider keeping some yummy dog treats in your pocket – you never know who may come barking at your door!
I know that not everyone is animal savvy, but it seems to me that it would be common sense that infant mammals need to be with their mamas until they’re weaned. Taking into consideration that puppies and kittens are typically going into the care of humans once they are old enough and not scavenging for food on their own, it still seems only logical that they would remain in their mother’s care until they are 6 to 8 weeks old at the very least. Even free-roaming kittens stay with their mother while she teaches them to hunt and fend for themselves; at that point, they still tend to live in colonies.I have been amazed this year at the number of infant puppies and kittens that I have seen given away, sold, or somehow finding their way to the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter.
A young human family from Bridgeton came into the shelter last week with a puppy that couldn’t have been more than 3 weeks old. He was tiny; I’m sure he didn’t even weigh 1 pound. His teeth were just breaking the surface of his gums. The people already had the pup for more than a week and had taken it from a guy who was giving away the whole litter. Fortunately, these folks had done their homework; they were bottle feeding him and knew that they needed to get de-wormers and vaccines for him.
A couple of weeks ago, we dealt with a cruelty case involving several dogs, many of which showed signs of having been repeatedly bred. There was one infant pup on the property, probably about 4 weeks old. The other pups already had been sold. The little one that we were able to get custody of weighed 2.1 pounds; she was crawling with fleas to the point where her gums were white with anemia. She would not have lived much longer with the fleas literally sucking the life out of her. I have nightmares about the rest of the litter; I can only hope that the new owners sought care for them right away.At every one of our monthly vaccine clinics, we’ve had people come with puppies that were way too young to be away from their mothers. At the shelter, we have received hundreds of kittens that should have still been nursing. The kittens tend to suffer in even greater numbers than puppies, as they are more likely to be separated from their mothers too soon. In general, they receive less human care as they are more apt to be born outdoors and without good shelter and regular monitoring.
I was happy to see that the young family who took in the infant pup had the sense of responsibility to research the necessary care. They had gone out and bought puppy formula. They came to the shelter seeking advice and medical care. Although we couldn’t help with the veterinary stuff, I think they left with a good education on the daily needs of the pup as well as an idea of what medical treatments would be needed, when they should be scheduled and how much it might cost.Separating young puppies and kittens from their mothers too soon is a form of cruelty. It can compromise the health of the babies as well as put the mother in danger of getting mastitis. If you know of anyone trying to sell or give away kittens or pups that are younger than 6 weeks, please contact us immediately.
Did you ever try to envision an animal as a human? We often given animals human attributes, typically based on appearance or characteristics. As we get to know an animal more and more, the more human they almost become. Envision the awesome pictures of dogs who resemble their owners, or folks who give their little dog a “big” name because of its larger-than-life personality. I have been quite lucky to get to know a special dog over the past few months. Her life has been a journey of hills and valleys.
Currently, she is in the care of an extraordinary Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals foster home and has made quite an impression on not just me, but everyone she meets. When I try to envision this dog as human, I hear the moving strains of Gaelic music that can either soothe you to sleep or inspire you to dance on a table. I think of fiery reds and emerald greens, of speed and agility. I think of fearlessness and devotion … I think of Merida, the Disney princess who redefined how we think of a heroine.
The canine counterpart to Merida is actually named Fiona, and she’s a 4-year-old who found herself in a terrible situation this winter. She had given birth to seven puppies but was not receiving the care a nursing mom should. When the CCSPCA arrived to help her, she was literally skin and bones and living in the cold. Her ribs and hip bones were clearly pronounced. But she was brave. Despite what she had been through, she didn’t fear her rescuers. Not only did she immediately seem to love us, but she trusted us. The entire family was safely rounded up and moved quickly into foster care. Fiona continued to take amazing care of her puppies, while her foster family concentrated on caring for her – possibly the first time anyone ever truly cared for her well-being. Fiona gained 15 pounds in just a few weeks. Fiona was a loyal and loving mom to her puppies. She was so tolerant of their puppy antics and was nurturing to them. She trusted people completely with her pups, but would have never let anything happen to them. She was a true Mama Bear, if you will.As often happens, once Fiona’s puppies reached an age where they were able to move on, they were all quickly adopted.
Fiona, however, remained. In the weeks that followed, she blossomed on her own. Her body became not only healthy, but like Disney’s Merida, strong and athletic. Her foster mom has photos of her moving with such grace and athleticism, it’s like she’s flying. But the most special thing about Fiona isn’t her spirit, nor her bravery, nor her athleticism. It’s the incredible fierceness of the love that she has to share – with everyone. Fiona simply adores people … big people, little people, old people, young people, new people, and trusted friends. She is an instant best friend, a complete companion, a dog for life. I guarantee that if you meet Fiona, she will react by wagging her entire back end in excitement and quickly flopping over so you can rub her belly.
Meeting Fiona warms your heart. Fiona has been in foster care since March. She’s well-loved and cared for, but ready for a home all her own. A home where she can share the tremendous love she has with an all-human family. A family who shares her love for play and appreciates her spirit and spunk, which make her so special. While it is a fine kennel she stays in, “Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin” (There’s no place like home).Please note: You can find pictures and videos of Fiona’s story on her Facebook page: “Foster Life.”
Most of us are familiar with the classic novel “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White, in which a young pig named Wilbur, who was destined for slaughter, is befriended by a young girl and a kindly and creative spider. The spider, Charlotte, spun webs with words in them to convince the farmer that Wilbur was an exceptional pig and his life should be spared. Messages like “Some pig” and “Radiant” appeared in her web, and Wilbur’s life was not only celebrated, but spared. The Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had a Wilbur, with a story that draws several comparisons to the novel. Named Wilbur because of his adorable snout, our Wilbur was a 60-pound, chocolate-colored mix of pit bull and boxer. He arrived at the SPCA shelter on Jan. 23 after being picked up by animal control. Although our goal from the moment he arrived was to find him a great home, he faced many challenges on his long road that threatened his life, but was also given help from special friends.
Wilbur hung out at the shelter pretty uneventfully for his first few months. Although he was a handful, he won everyone over with his affectionate personality. We did grow alarmed as the weeks went by and Wilbur had no interest from adopters or rescues. By the time April arrived, Wilbur’s stress level was extremely high and kennel space became tight; we felt like our desperate pleas for Wilbur were unheard and, unfortunately, there was no word-weaving spider to be found in his kennel to draw attention to him. Wilbur was timestamped, a term that refers to a time limit placed on a dog or cat before they are euthanized.
It’s important to understand that euthanizing an animal the shelter is always a last resort. Every single staff member who works at the shelter is there for love of the animals; euthanasia is something we dread and do everything we can to avoid. But as an open-intake shelter, sometimes it is unavoidable. When space has to be made for incoming animals, there is no good choice. When an animal’s quality of life has declined and no help is to be found, there is no good choice. A timestamp is a final chance to find help that we already had been desperately seeking.Wilbur was lucky and received an adoption application, but only a few short weeks later, Wilbur was returned to the shelter. He was too much for the family, and Wilbur was again in limbo. He was timestamped again – dogs were pouring in and there was no space. At the end of the timestamp, there was no interest in Wilbur, but we had moved over 10 dogs into rescues, so we were able to give him more time. However by the next weekend we had received notice of 20-plus dogs on a property in Bridgeton that we would be taking in, and once again Wilbur found himself with a timestamp. The rollercoaster began again. Hours before his timestamp was up, someone put in an adoption application, but that night they withdrew it – they weren’t as prepared as they promised me they were. I felt despair. Despite all our efforts, I thought for sure Wilbur would be gone in the morning, and it was extremely painful. While he had many online followers who were quite passionate about him, the shelter staff and volunteers were his caregivers. We were hands-on with him, dealing with the bruises his bad manners left yet seeing his potential when he flopped over for belly rubs. No one could feel the high of thinking he was saved or the low of imagining holding his sweet face while he passed like the people who were with him every day.
Wilbur somehow managed to get incredibly lucky again: A local young woman, with the experience he needed, offered to help him and actually showed up prepared to do so. The pieces finally fell into place for Wilbur – a dog meet was successful, TLC Rescue agreed to take him into its care, and his new foster was all set to take him home. Wilbur is alive and thriving in rescue today. He will be ready for an adoptive home once he decompresses and completes his training. We are extremely grateful for Madeline, who took on the task that no one else would: bringing him into her home and taking on his training. Thank you to TLC Rescue in Millville for taking him into its rescue and providing support for his new foster mom. A special thanks to the volunteers and staff members at the shelter who spent months refusing to give up on Wilbur and making sure that he received the exercise and enrichment he needed to make it out. Although Wilbur has moved on, we will never forget him. That Wilbur, he sure is “Some Dog.”
Source: Rescue of a lifetime for Wilbur
Sometimes we get lucky enough in life to have a “heart dog” enter our lives. Heart dogs are the dogs that fill a place inside you – a hole that you may not have even known needed to be filled. It’s the dog who is your constant through life’s hills and valleys, and the dog who brought something special to life that no other animal, or person, could. This is very difficult to explain, but if you have had a heart dog, you will know exactly what I am attempting to describe. Recently, one of our staff members lost his heart dog, a dog that he rescued in every sense of the word. I have worked in animal shelters for 15 years, and the story of George and Golden Boy is one of the most beautiful, touching partnerships I have encountered. I can only hope that I do justice in telling their story.
Golden Boy, a 9-year-old pit bull, was rescued by Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals cruelty agents from an abusive and terribly neglectful situation. Although he was skeletally thin, he was found secured to by a heavy chain, huddled on the hard dirt ground. When he arrived at the shelter, he was emaciated, weak and sick.One particular staff member, George, felt a strong draw to Golden Boy from the day he arrived. As Golden Boy became stronger, he became reactive to almost everyone and would bark aggressively in his kennel. He was impossible to handle. He had so few good experiences with humans to draw from that he found it too difficult to trust most people. The exception to this mistrust was George.
George continued to spend lots of time with Golden Boy, and their bond grew. Golden Boy, unfortunately, had to stay in the shelter for months while his case progressed through the justice system. When the case concluded successfully, George knew that Golden Boy needed a place to go. His behavior made him unadoptable and he couldn’t stay at the shelter. The bond was already so strong that George committed to doing whatever needed to be done so that he and Golden Boy could stay together. He built a gorgeous, heated and cooled kennel for Golden Boy and took him home. Remarkably, Golden Boy quickly adjusted to his kennel and was doing so well that he was brought into the house and became part of the family. He made a flawless transition to being a beloved house dog, even enjoying his Chihuahua brothers.
About a year ago, Golden Boy was diagnosed with prostate cancer. We utilized funds from a Grey Muzzle Organization grant for senior dogs to extend his time and keep him comfortable. The extra months that Golden Boy and George had together were a blessing. Knowing that Golden Boy’s time on earth was coming to a close, George filled their everyday together with love and fun.In March, Golden Boy passed away, with George at his side. I know how incredibly difficult his loss was and how he has been missed every day since. George is a man of few words, but sometimes a few words are all that’s needed to convey a big message.
I asked him how he and Golden Boy connected.“Why did Golden Boy and I click? We both needed one another at the time we met. He saved my life and I saved his!”
There is nothing better than the feeling of bringing home your newly adopted dog. It is such an exciting time for both your family and the dog. This time is also a very important transition, and there is a lot that you can do to set up your new family member for success.Our first instinct may be to spoil the pup … after all, he’s been through so much. He’s been in the shelter, and who knows where before that! We often feel that the best way to show how much we love our new pet is to spoil them – let them sleep on the couch, in the bed, give them all the toys, and just make a huge fuss over how wonderful they are. This may go over well in the beginning, but in the long term you are actually setting up your dog for potential failure with this approach.
We strongly recommend introducing your new dog using the “Two-Week Shutdown.” This method has proved successful over and over again. The two-week shutdown gives the dog an opportunity to grow comfortable in his new environment while learning that you are his “safe” person, his leader. Canines seek a leader, and if one is not provided for them, they often will attempt to take on this role on their own (not good!). For the first two weeks, you will limit the new dog’s exposures and mostly keep him in his crate, with limited activity in the yard outside. For these first two weeks, you will want to avoid over-exciting situations, such as dog meets, human visits, long overstimulating walks and intense obedience training. You will put your dog in the crate, take him out for brief play time (in a familiar room or yard), praise him gently when he does well, ignore bad behavior and then return him to his crate.
And yes, not meeting other dogs includes any other pets in your household. “Impossible!” you say, but nothing is impossible with a good crate. A crate is the best way to keep a new dog safe. We always recommend that adopters and fosters practice crate training. When introduced properly, your dog’s crate is more than a way to keep them out of trouble when you cannot watch them – it’s their den and their comfort zone. And it’s the most foolproof way to keep dogs safe in a multi-dog home. Think about it: Instead of immediately having to figure out how to interact with this new canine companion (What’s their play style? Can we share this? Where do I sleep? …) you have given your new dog a safe place where he can comfortably observe and get a feel for your current dog. And your resident dog doesn’t suddenly have to share everything he previously thought was his with a strange new dog. When you move on to the next step of leash walking the dogs together, they already will be comfortable with each other and the walk will help build their relationship. And it will feel completely natural and safe when you are finally ready to drop the leashes and let interactions occur.
I already can see some people shaking their head and thinking how cruel or overcautious this sounds. I could explain why it works (this is how a mother introduces puppies to the world; you don’t know what type of transition you are asking of the dog; how dogs perceive leaders; etc.) but I will leave that to you to research and simply assure you that it works. Outside of my own experiences (introducing dozens of foster dogs to my small home), I have seen the success of so many of our shelter dogs, many of whom have had challenging behaviors or backgrounds, who have gone to foster or rescue homes that utilize this method.And if you are still skeptical, ask yourself what there is to lose. You may be fine without doing the shutdown (this is more likely to be true of senior dogs or very young puppies), but why risk it? If the dog is the type who does need a shutdown and you don’t provide it, you jeopardize the entire future of your relationship with that dog and you may not even know it until months down the road when problems emerge. These types of problems will now be significantly more difficult to correct.
For a complete read on the Two-Week Shutdown, please visit our rescue partner Bella-Reed Pit Bull Rescue’s website: www.bellareedpbr.com/bringing-dog-home.php
Source: Adopting a dog: What to do first
I’m not really sure how to tell this story because many of the details are sketchy at best. The upshot is that the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter ended up with 24 Chihuahuas needing new homes. I’ll start at the beginning, and I apologize in advance for any unanswered questions or confusion.A couple of weeks ago, a woman walked into the Bridgeton police station asking for help because she had 50 Chihuahuas at her rental house and she was afraid she was going to get evicted. The animal control officer in turn called our Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals investigator, and so the odyssey began …
When the officers arrived on the property, they were told that some of the dogs were in the house, some had been given away that morning and some might be riding around in a U-Haul truck with an elderly lady. Apparently the dogs had been transported from Georgia within the previous 24 hours. They had lived down there at the house of a man who was moving to the rental property in Bridgeton. When the dogs arrived at the house up here, the legal renter panicked, knowing that she was violating her lease and certainly would be evicted if the landlord found out. The owner of the dogs had gone to work that day and the renter had become desperate to remove the dogs before everybody involved ended up out on the street.After three hours of waiting for the owner of the dogs to get home and determining what could be done, our investigator decided to impound the dogs until the owner either had a suitable place for them to go or to decide to release them to us. There were 14 dogs in the house at that time; the fate of the others, or even how many others there actually were, was a mystery.
After having no contact from the owner, I called him a few days later to tell him that he had to make a decision. After a long discussion and a lot of emotional upheaval, he decided to release the dogs so that they could be re-homed. At that point, he also mentioned that there were “three or four” others that he might need our help with as well. I told him that this would not be a problem and to please call me as soon as possible to make arrangements for the last few dogs.A few days later, I receive a call from a concerned person that the owner had rounded up the dogs that initially were given away and that he had 17 living in his vehicle. So, we rounded up the troops, grabbed a bunch of crates and went back out to the property. Sure enough, there in the backyard was an SUV with a bunch of Chihuahuas occupying every seat and compartment in the vehicle.Due to a shorthanded situation at the shelter that day, I got to get out from behind my desk to go to the property myself. And I can honestly say that, in spite of the ridiculousness of the situation, the dogs were fat and happy, the vehicle was free of urine or feces, and the owner was genuinely distraught about being unable to provide for his pups. It took a little negotiating, but eventually the dogs were released to us except for the oldest four which went to live with family members.
The dogs have been here at the shelter for the past couple of weeks. We had to hold them for two weeks because they had come across state lines without proper vaccines. The holding period is up and we’re now able to start placing them in new homes. They are all a little scared here at the shelter, but I have faith that they just need some TLC and patience. They have been through a horrendous ordeal – taken from their home, shipped here in the back of a U-Haul, separated from their pack, separated from their human companions and now stuck in a shelter for two weeks. There were four tiny pups and a few that were 3 to 4 months old; they will fly out of here. The others are all relatively young, but I worry that everyone will just want the babies. I hope you’ll be motivated to come check them out. They really need a best friend now.