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

New day for South Jersey animal shelter

Allie

The time has come for a complete makeover! After more than a century of hard work, the time has come to iron out the wrinkles and put on a fresh face. Back in the late 1800s, when our organization was first conjured up, we were just a small group of caring individuals who touted themselves as the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children & Animals. Lacking protective agencies for the well-being of kids or pets, some of our community’s founding members took it upon themselves to help make the world a little better for those most vulnerable in our society.

Over the years, we grew into a much larger society of like-minded people. Government agencies had begun providing services for needy and homeless children, but the animals still needed our protection. In 1915, we were granted a formal charter from the state of New Jersey to enforce animal cruelty laws and thus became the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. No government funding was provided; we relied completely on the generosity of our donors and volunteers to meet the challenges of investigating reports of cruelty and neglect.

In 1947, we were incorporated by the state of New Jersey as a nonprofit corporation, and a very dedicated member named Laura Sabin donated her house to be utilized as a small shelter. A handful of kennels were attached to the back of the little house, and it was revamped to offer refuge to approximately 20 dogs and 50 cats. Spaying and neutering animals was virtually unheard of, and pet overpopulation was rampant. For 50 years, that little shelter, which had tacked on a few more kennels and a few more cat rooms, was handling as many as 8,000 animals a year! Space and resources were severely lacking, and many pets were put down simply because there were way too many.

Big changes, both culturally and legally, have occurred in our society over the past several years. Spaying and neutering have become increasingly successful deterrents to pet overpopulation. Extraordinary efforts are being made at every level of society to save the lives of homeless animals. It’s an exhaustive effort requiring tremendous resources in providing care, medical attention and behavioral training; but it is happening. Most pet lovers today embrace the adoption and rescue of homeless pets and actively support these efforts. On a national level, millions of pets that would have been doomed to an early death in prior decades are being saved as we march toward the goal of finding placement for ALL adoptable animals.

The biggest change in the history of our organization has come this year. In January, New Jersey finally recognized that acts of animal cruelty and neglect are serious issues that should be investigated and prosecuted just like all other crimes. Legislation was passed to have these duties handed over to police departments and county prosecutor’s offices rather than by nonprofit, nonsubsidized volunteer groups. It will take time for this transition to smooth out, but the change was way overdue and highly necessary.

As of May 1 of this year, our organization no longer handles cases of animal cruelty and neglect. Having turned in our badges, we can now concentrate totally on caring for our shelter animals, achieving the goal of finding placement for all our adoptable animals and realizing the goal of never having to euthanize an animal unless it is a threat to public safety or is suffering irredeemable health issues.

The dissolution of our law enforcement duties has refined our mission, and with this huge transition comes a change in our name. The Cumberland County SPCA has been officially changed to the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter. It’s a new day, it’s a different world; we hope you will continue to share in our mission of reducing pet overpopulation and helping our all homeless pets find a new beginning.

 

Source: New day for South Jersey animal shelter

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

Life at the shelter: 116 kittens in 2 weeks!

Here we go again.

During the last two weeks of April, the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter took in 116 kittens. Apparently that cool spring we had didn’t deter the cats from doing their thing! Every one of the kittens was under 5 weeks of age, with the majority being under 3 weeks old. Many of them were brought to the shelter without their mothers, which presents a couple of problems.

 

Let’s start with the main issue: Those mothers are still out there, and most probably will be pregnant again within a few short weeks. It is imperative that these moms are brought in off the streets to be spayed before they can be allowed to produce over and over again. There is also a concern for the health of kittens that don’t have the advantage of getting mother’s milk. Although bottle-feeding kittens is normally highly successful, their immune systems miss out on the advantages of being raised by mom for their first 6 to 8 weeks.

If you have a free-roaming mom cat that you would be able to keep after the babies are weaned, you would be a hero! In that case, you need to do two things: socialize the kittens as much as you possibly can so that they will be easily adoptable, and get mom spayed as soon as the kittens are eating on their own. If you have any free-roaming adult cats that you care for that need fixing, we can help you find resources for low-cost services.

Every single kitten that has come into our shelter this year has either been adopted, sent to foster care until it is old enough to be adopted, or sent to a rescue organization. We are constantly reaching out to new adoption partners to be able to save all of our adoptable cats. With the help of all of you, we can reduce the number of cats and kittens coming into the shelter by minimizing the number of unwanted litters and by responsibly caring for free roaming cats so that they don’t have to be impounded in the first place.

Source: Life at the shelter: 116 kittens in 2 weeks!

A dog determined to go home from the shelter

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; love is blind … and often unexpected. Such was the case for the Fifth family when they came into the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter a few years back looking to adopt one of our big, beefy pit bulls. Mrs. Fifth is big into rescuing the breed, and the family already had a particular dog in mind when they visited. The new pet was to be a birthday gift for their daughter. What none of them expected was to leave the shelter with a half blind Chihuahua/terrier mix that was in pretty rough shape from his time on the streets of Vineland.

Although they had come to meet one of our female pits, you can’t walk into the adoption rooms and not take a look at everybody. Most people who come to the shelter with hopes of adopting like to walk through both the cat and dog rooms, even if they are looking for one specific thing. Curiosity is a wonderful thing and sometimes leads us down paths we hadn’t expected. In the Fifth family’s case, their find was the same species, just in a much smaller package.

As they toured the dog adoption room they came across Butterbean, a pint-sized, scruffy Chihuahua mix who decided this family was meant for him and he was going to get to them – even if he had to dig his way out of the concrete kennel! As they approached his kennel, he took one look at them and started to dig furiously at the floor as if to tunnel his way out to them. His attempts paid off, because he got their attention very quickly and the “love at first sight” thing seemed to go both ways.

Dobby, formerly known as Butterbean, has been a very happy addition to their household and a fixture on Mom’s lap. They are so enamored with him that they have entered him in the shelter’s Dog of the Year Contest. You can vote for Dobby or any of our 12 contestants online at southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

It’s wonderful that we are able to have such immediate connections with animals, especially when it flies in the face of our preconceived notions. The key of course, is to be realistic about whether the pet you fall for fits into your lifestyle in a manner that suits you both. Dobby’s situation was good because small packages can fit into large spaces, but the opposite can be challenging. People often come in looking for small dogs but are attracted to a big dog or a puppy that will grow into a much larger animal than they had in mind. Serious thought needs to given before taking in a pet whose needs are not what you had planned for. My Old English Sheepdog is from a rescue that took her in when her original owners could no longer keep her. She had been purchased at 8 weeks old as a present for the man’s girlfriend. They lived in a small, third-floor condo. At 13 weeks, the pup had grown to 28 pounds and they figured out very quickly that she was not going to fit into their apartment-style living.

Both Dobby and my sheepdog had wonderful endings to their stories, but the shelter often receives dogs who have outgrown their owner’s ability, or desire, to care for them. We have pets of a wide range of size and age at the shelter. We’d love to have you come in and meet your perfect match.

Source: A dog determined to go home from the shelter

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

Here’s why you shouldn’t feed bread to ducks

The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter often receives injured and infant wildlife, especially in the spring and early summer. These animals must be transferred out to licensed rehabilitators and rehab centers that are overseen by the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. Once in the hands of rehabilitators, these animals are assessed for their ability to recover and be released back into the wild, or euthanized because their health is such that they cannot recover sufficiently to be reintroduced to their normal environment.

There are also some opportunities to house special-needs animals  at refuges, but these are few and far between. Infant animals, according to species and maturity, can often be saved. “Pinkies,” infants that don’t have fur yet, can be difficult because they require a huge time commitment for feeding and because they miss out on the natural antibodies that they normally would get from mother’s milk. Squirrel babies are generally very hearty and fare well; bunnies, on the other hand, are fragile and most often don’t survive.

If you find wildlife of any size that you feel requires assistance, you should check with your local animal control officer or a Fish & Wildlife officer for advice before you do anything. You are also welcome to call the shelter so that we can refer or facilitate some sort of help.

Amy

Last week, we sent one of our staff members to a seminar given by one of our local rehabilitators on safely transporting injured animals. Part of the discussions dealt with the nature of injuries commonly reported, one of which caught my attention but actually isn’t an injury at all.

Angel wing is a deformity suffered mostly by aquatic birds, such as geese and ducks, that are malnourished. What is surprising is that this is believed to be caused by an excessive intake of carbohydrates and proteins, often provided by humans in the form of bread. Although the small birds that we feed in our backyards are typically picky about what they eat, ducks and geese are not. In parks or other areas frequented by well-intended people bringing their bags of leftover bread, the birds will fill up themselves up on it, but the bread holds no nutritional value for them.  On any given day, a walk through Giampietro Park in Vineland will most probably reveal birds that have a wing sticking out at an odd angle rather than lying flat against their sides. Sadly, this often results in the bird being unable to fly and therefore unable to defend itself from predators, dodge vehicles or move with the flock.

Spring is the time of year that many people get themselves up off the sofa and out of the house for a nice walk, so let this serve as a reminder to leave the bread at home. Feeding wild birds is often prohibited. But, if there are areas that allow it, you can still enjoy doing so – just bring the right food. Raw seed, cracked corn and chopped-up fruit are just a few healthy foods that are easy to pack and that will be nutritionally valuable to the birds. And by the way, whether you feed the ducks or not, if you walk your dog in the park, keep him leashed and away from the birds; it’s not fair to the birds and it’s not safe for your dog, especially with geese and swans.

Source: Here’s why you shouldn’t feed bread to ducks

Spring is here – is your pet prepared?

Relocating to Florida is looking better every year. Although I might have to spend more money on grooming to keep the dogs shaved down, at least I would not have to shovel a path through the ice and snow for them to go outside. Snow is one thing, but that ice last week turned my yard into a hazard zone for the dogs and a whole lot of work for me. Their first attempt to race out the door, in hot pursuit of those thieving squirrels raiding the birdfeeders, turned into a scene out of the ice follies as paws hit the icy deck and the four-leggers went sprawling! I couldn’t let them outside unsupervised because branches and limbs were snapping like toothpicks, which eventually broke a gaping hole in the fence – the fence that I put up so that I would NOT have to stand out in the weather when I let the dogs out. I suppose I would have to worry about hurricanes in Florida, but at least I wouldn’t be cold and I wouldn’t have to shovel.

It seems odd to go from ranting about blizzard conditions to concerns about spring, but that was my intention this week. I wanted to remind you that these are your last few days to get your pets licensed. Most municipalities, including Vineland, give you through March 31 to get it done, so Thursday (Friday is a holiday) will be your last chance before late fees will apply. Also, remember that you should be prepared to pay cash for the license when you go to your municipal building.

The other thing I wanted to mention was parasite control for your pets. For those of you who stop your dog’s heartworm prevention medication over the winter, it’s time to start it back up again. Vets recommend that dogs be tested/retested before they will prescribe the meds. Although this spring seems to be having some difficulty kicking into any warming trend, heartworm disease is very serious and can cause damage to the heart tissue and even death; don’t take any chances by delaying prevention.

The ticks are already out and about, and the fleas will follow shortly, so you should also start whatever external parasite prevention treatment you use. There are seven major tickborne diseases that affect dogs, Lyme disease being the one that dogs in our area seem to suffer the most. These diseases can cause all sorts of symptoms including fever, pain, loss of appetite and vomiting. There are several options for external parasite control: over the counter vs. prescription; topical vs. oral; and treatments that last for one-, three- or six-month periods. For your pet’s safety, you should always consult with your veterinarian before starting any prevention, even if it’s over the counter, because they are all some type of pesticide. Never combine treatments or use them repeatedly before the recommended intervals, and watch for any allergic reactions when administering.

Finally, although warm weather has failed to make its appearance, new life has begun to emerge. As I stated last week, the KITTENS ARE COMING, so please do what you can to promote spay and neuter. We also received our first infant squirrel of the season; it had been rescued from a nest that was brought down in the storm last week. Wildlife in general will be on the move as they begin their mating season and the young come out of their dens and nests, so keep your eyes on the road and be vigilant when you’re out removing all those fallen trees and branches.

Source: Spring is here – is your pet prepared?