What to know about rabies and pets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Source: What to know about rabies and pets

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gandolf

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

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

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

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

Clearing the shelter with an open mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Source: Clearing the shelter with an open mind

 

Take your dog on a date to the Jersey Shore

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

What you should do if you suspect animal cruelty

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

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

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

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

Source: What you should do if you suspect animal cruelty

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

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

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

Why kittens are good pets

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

Adult cats better for some homes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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