Clearing the shelter with an open mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Source: Clearing the shelter with an open mind

 

Take your dog on a date to the Jersey Shore

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

What you should do if you suspect animal cruelty

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

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

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

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

Source: What you should do if you suspect animal cruelty

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

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

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

Why kittens are good pets

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

Adult cats better for some homes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moment of hope in overwhelming week at shelter

Summertime at South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter is like Christmas season in the retail business. The pace is frantic, the hours are long, and it’s a make-it-or-break-it situation. The animals pour in the doors, brought in by animal control officers, citizens finding strays, and owners unable to keep their pets or the offspring of their pets. With the building population at its height, staff and volunteers must spend long hours making sure all the animals get the care and attention that they so desperately need. The pressure to find homes and rescues for all of them is overwhelming.

Last week was especially difficult, because it seemed as though the rest of the world was on vacation. Adoptions were slow and no shelters or rescues were accepting transfers. On top of the usual craziness, all the electronics in the building seemed to have some sort of problem; the air conditioning was on the blink, the phones were acting up, the computers were having issues and the alarm system was going off repeatedly for no apparent reason. It was the kind of week that made me think I might enjoy a career as a barista or maybe a receptionist somewhere. But then, late Friday afternoon, I was reminded of what’s really important, when a couple of my former foster pets came in for a visit.

One of the most rewarding things in my life is to foster animals until they are ready for adoption. It can be a tough letting go when that time comes, but it is worth every moment of angst to see those animals become part of a loving family. If you are familiar with this column, you probably remember the stories about the Valentine litter that I had; born right before Christmas and adopted out in February, they and their mother were one of the highlights of my fostering experiences.

The mother is very special to me; she was part of my family for three months, and l loved experiencing the birth and raising of her pups. She had come from a rough

situation, pregnant and running loose on the streets of Bridgeton, but her luck certainly changed once the animal control officer brought her into the shelter. After delivering and weaning her pups, when the time came for her to be adopted out, it just so happened that the absolute perfect home needed a little girl like her to help fill the void of a beloved Schnauzer they had lost just before Christmas. Searching through the pets listed on the shelter’s website, the little dog’s wiry hair and intelligent eyes caught their attention right away. My precious mama dog, now Gidget, was on her way to live the life of an adored and pampered member of the family.

As fate had it, she would not be the only one of my foster animals to end up in the Burgos’ home. Having suffered the loss of another senior dog, they were soon on the

When they came in to see me last week, they were like a breath of fresh air. What a great job, I thought; who else gets to experience the fruit of their labors in the form of wagging tails and excited kisses? Even if only for a few precious moments, the furious pace of the shelter and the aggravation of the malfunctioning electronics seemed to fade away in the happiness of the reunion.lookout for another companion. As if by divine intervention, I got a text message from them about their possible interest in adopting another pet right at the time that I had a new foster pup. I was ecstatic to be able to place another dog in such a wonderful home.

You don’t have to work at the shelter to experience the joy of rescuing pets. Become a foster parent today. Check out our website at southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org for more information on becoming a foster hero.

Source: Moment of hope in overwhelming week at shelter

Full house at the animal shelter

Things at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter certainly did go off with a bang over the holiday! As expected, we became inundated with stray animals. As I mentioned in last week’s column, the Fourth of July is typically very busy for us, with pets becoming displaced during backyard parties and  running in panic from the tremendous noise and vibrations of the fireworks. It must have been a banner year for celebrations, because by noon the shelter began filling up.

New arrivals at the shelter are kept in an intake area, which typically provides plenty of room for animals brought in by animal control officers (ACOs) when the shelter is closed. After receiving a heads-up from one of the ACOs that space was getting tight, I stopped in around 3 in the afternoon to see if I could move any of the animals out of intake, knowing that the fireworks were yet to take their toll. I expected to walk in and find a bunch of big, goofy yard dogs that had jumped at the chance to escape through a gate accidently left open with the arrival of the partygoers but, much to my surprise, it was a completely different lineup.

RhettIn the next cage was a Cairn Terrier that was instantly thrilled to see anyone who was willing to pay him attention. I could tell instantly that he was too ornery to be afraid; he was just out for a good time.

 

The third cage was more of what I had expected to find: a larger, mixed-breed male. He was NOT happy to see me, and he let me know it before I even got in front of his kennel. The next cage held a pug mix whose owner had been arrested and hauled off to jail. That poor little guy was neither happy nor sad to see me; he had more of that “Yo, what just happened here?” look to him.

 

The kennel after that held a sawed-off little Miniature Pinscher/Yorkie mix? That’s truly a wild guess as far as breed mix, but he’s an adorable little guy – black with brown markings, with wiry hair and very short legs. Finally, our last little prize was a tiny, female Yorkie who was very excited at the prospect of having someone to pick her up and cuddle her. I’m truly surprised that she was ever out of anyone’s arms long enough to get lost.

After moving several of our newcomers into other kennels, I thought we would be ready for whatever the night would bring. Needless to say, I didn’t try to move the big guy who was feeling a little cranky about his stint in the pokey, but the other kennels were emptied for the next wave.The next morning, they were all filled up again, which was no surprise. The thing that shocked me was that the big dog who had given me so much attitude was the first one to be reclaimed, and he turned out to be a total sweetheart after mom and dad showed up!

When I came in to the shelter on the 4th, I had hoped to be able to identify the owners of some of the strays so that I could contact them, possibly get some of the dogs out of there and, if nothing else, relieve the people that their pets were safe. Not one of those dogs was wearing an ID tag … just sayin’..

                                                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Full house at the animal shelter

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

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