VINELAND – Frigid temperatures and a forecast for snow have the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals phones buzzing with people reporting animals left outside.“We are getting slammed with calls,” SPCA executive director Bev Greco told The Daily Journal on Wednesday.People are reporting violators of the new “tethering law.” Greco hopes education will encourage compliance with the new legislation that cracks down on keeping dogs chained outside and leaving them unattended for prolonged periods of time.
Dogs may no longer be tied up outside between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., Greco said. If a dog is chained more than a half-hour during the day, it must be attached to a lightweight chain or rope that’s at least 15-feet long, giving it access to clean water and adequate shelter.During harsh weather conditions, like those the area is now experiencing, dogs may not be tied up outside for more than 30 minutes without supervision, the law states.The SPCA is trying to respond to each reported violation but are now facing manpower and shelter space issues, Greco said. All 58 dog runs are occupied.On Wednesday, the shelter took in four dogs from Millville and four dogs from Stow Creek.
When possible, bring the animal into the house, she said. If the pet isn’t permitted in the living area, Greco suggested sheltering the animal in the basement or garage.If that is not an option, she said a shed may be used but only if the dog house or cat box is moved inside too. These smaller contained shelters help an animal retain its body heat, she said.A dog house should be just large enough for a dog to stand in and be able turn around, Greco said. It should also have a flap to keep out the rough weather.The shelters should have straw for warmth, she said, discouraging the use of blankets because they hold moisture.Thanking the public for being vigilant, Greco said, the two SPCA cruelty investigators are responding to as many calls as possible.
Municipal animal control officers and Vineland Police are also pitching in, she said.Greco urged the public not to wait until extreme conditions to call if they see an animal welfare issue. It can help if animal investigators can address these condition issues over time.Those who fail to comply with the new law may be issued a summons, Greco said.
Holy moly! If you read the column last week, you know that I was pacing the floors waiting for my foster dog to deliver her pups. It turned out to be a VERY LONG wait. Throughout the day she was restless, up and down, in and out of the closet that she chose for her “birthing suite.” We knew by 6:30 in the morning that she was ready and we were vigilant all day, but by 11 o’clock that night, I was exhausted and nothing was happening.I finally decided to try to get some rest. She had other ideas.At midnight, I heard a decisive yelp from the closet and, sure enough, the first pup was working his way out. I had never heard a mother dog cry out during delivery, but I have read that they experience contractions much like human mothers and therefore must have similar pain. She cried out two more times with the second and third pups, but after that she seemed to settle in and take the deliveries with stride. I think she is a first (and last!) time mother, so her agitation and lack of experience probably added to her discomfort.
A little after 3 a.m., she finally delivered the last of her eight – yes, EIGHT – puppies. That’s a very large litter for such a little dog. As I stated last week, I was sure that she was either carrying a few big pups or a lot of little ones, but I didn’t expect EIGHT! Typically, small dogs have small litters; five would be considered large for them. The last puppy took the longest between births, and by that time she seemed to be exhausted and lay down, almost nodding off, until a few seconds before the last little girl popped out.After she had finished removing the sack from the pup and getting her settled, I wanted to get mama cleaned up and get her outside. I felt terrible, because it was the night that it snowed and I hated like heck having to send her out in it, even for a minute, with what she had been through. I needn’t have worried. After letting her out, I peeked through the window to make sure she was getting off the deck and doing her business. Imagine my surprise when I spotted her doing the “snow plow,” running her chin and belly through the new snow and rolling in it excitedly on her back. She came back in and was zipping around, acting crazy, like dogs do when they have just had a bath. She drank some water, ate a huge predawn breakfast and finally retired with her new babies for a few hours.In spite of her being new to motherhood, she has been fantastic with the puppies. She probably will weigh in at 13 or 14 pounds after her milk is dried up, but right now she’s eating more in the course of a day than my 85-pound sheep dog does. She gets a cup of kibble and a half-cup of canned food three times a day, snacks on dry food in between, and gets a handful of treats at bedtime. Eating for nine is obviously a big job!
The puppies will be ready for adoption around Valentine’s Day, and I will keep you updated on their progress as they mature. Right now, they look like little bubble-headed mice, with eyes not yet open and just able to slither around a little on their bellies. Check out thedailyjournal.com for a video! Those of us at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter hope that you are enjoying your family and friends over this holiday season and please keep in mind that we have many pets here that are waiting still for a safe, warm and loving home like yours.
Sometimes there is nothing more refreshing than seeing life through the eyes of a child. My daughter, now 3 years old, has made fostering a totally new experience. While I cannot foster like I used to (all the animals, all the time!), it’s been extra special when we do. I have found fostering to be a wonderful way to teach her important life lessons.
Last spring, we fostered an adorable puppy named McKinleigh. She was originally seized as a cruelty case, with her littermates and mom, when she was very tiny. She spent a few weeks with her mom and siblings, but as it neared time for adoption, her foster mom noticed that she was extremely shy and her littermates were running all over her (literally). We thought a chance to socialize with some older dogs and break out on her own would benefit her as she waited for an adoptive home. McKinleigh did great here, and my daughter Alissa adored her. I have some seriously precious pictures of the two of them snuggling and playing together. In fact, I began to worry about what would happen when the puppy left. Was I setting my child up for heartbreak? How would she ever forgive me for adopting out her beloved puppy?
I prepared her by reminding her often that we were doing a job – getting McKinleigh ready for her forever home. I explained that we couldn’t keep her because we needed to be able to help other animals. I took Alissa to adoption events where we looked for a family for the puppy together. When the perfect family came along for McKinleigh, Alissa was able to meet them and say goodbye. She was sad, but she understood so much better than I expected. Thanks to social media, we have been able to see pictures of McKinleigh as she grows up, and Alissa is always so happy to see her in her new home.I really wanted to just tell Alissa that Magoo was getting adopted. I dreaded this conversation, for although she is only 3 years old, her ability to process and question astounds me. But I knew that wasn’t the right thing to do. I talked to her about how Magoo was only happy when he was sleeping and how his eye hurt him. I very carefully explained that we could give him medicine that would let him fall asleep, then his spirit would go to heaven and his body wouldn’t wake up. I was a nervous mess and struggled with my words to make sure I wasn’t causing my daughter permanent emotional distress. After I was finished my speech, she said: “I’m happy his eye won’t hurt him anymore. Goodbye, Magoo.” And then she asked if she could go out and play.
I realized this mirrored my struggle. It was so difficult to let him go; I wanted so badly for him to get better. So many “what if’s” went through my head. But my daughter made me realize that I could focus on the release that Magoo experienced, rather than the loss I was experiencing. I also realized that she inevitably would face a situation that forced us to discuss death. Although the loss of our foster dog was sad, he was clearly old and unhappy; it was an introduction to the most difficult of life lessons that made sense. I’m grateful her little mind was able to process this and better prepare her for the lessons to come.
Raising a child is quite an incredible task. In addition to meeting all her physical needs, teaching her to write and read and master academic skills, I’m responsible for teaching her what she needs to learn in order to go out into the world one day and make it a better place. Fostering animals has been the perfect way for me to begin teaching her the lessons she needs to learn in order to change the world.
Harvey, Irma, Maria – as if the situation for homeless animals wasn’t bad enough, three major hurricanes hitting the U.S. and Puerto Rico in less than a month is having a have a major impact on stray and shelter animals in those hard-hit areas, as well as repercussions throughout the country.Puerto Rico has a horrendous problem with overpopulation of companion animals. In the most recent estimate, there were approximately 300,000 stray dogs and a million stray cats fighting for survival on the streets and beaches. The island is approximately the size of Connecticut and has (or had … who knows now?) only five small, ill-equipped, poorly funded shelters. I shudder to think of what the island animals have been going through during their brush with Irma and now the full wrath of Maria.
The flooding and ensuing disease will surely mean a terrible death for a large number of these dogs and cats. The island has suffered such catastrophic damage that it has prevented relief organizations from assessing the situation as of yet. Further complicating the rescue efforts is the fact that those disaster response groups are already stretched to their limit because of Harvey and Irma.
Rescue groups have been bringing shelter animals up from the South and distributing them to northern shelters in hopes of finding them homes. This requires a tremendous effort, which comes with major expense and some disease-control issues. Getting the animals to safety is only half the battle; then they must be vaccinated, treated for any medical concerns, quarantined for a while to make sure they are healthy and, finally, found homes. This means disaster relief organizations and the receiving shelters will need support during this heroic effort.It’s hard not to be touched by the pictures of the animals who are the victims of these events, and many people will be moved to adopt one of them. If you are so inclined, I want to remind you to make sure any animals that currently share your home are fully vaccinated, including the less common canine influenza vaccine for dogs. Canine influenza is relatively new and scarce in our part of the country, but may be brought in by dogs entering the state from more affected areas. Any time you bring a new animal from any source into your fold, you should bring your other pets up-to-date on vaccines. Your veterinarian should be consulted for advice on preventive care for both vaccines and parasite treatments. On that same note, please keep in mind that Oct. 21 is the last low-cost vaccine clinic of the year at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter.
Let’s hope that the Atlantic Ocean is tapped out for this hurricane season. I think we’ve all had enough of watching these disasters unfold on The Weather Channel!
This summer has been an extremely fast-paced season here at the shelter. As it should be, pets have been flying out the door – through adoptions, transfers to our sister shelters, and help from our rescue partners. Sadly, though, animals continue to pour in the door, leaving the staff at the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in a constant whirlwind of trying to address the needs of thousands of cats and dogs.Our cages and kennels have been completely filled all summer long, and now, with the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, our options to move animals out to other organizations have dried up as those shelters and rescues are trying to absorb thousands of displaced animals from those disaster areas. What does this mean for the homeless pet here in our shelter? It means they need you more than ever.
You may have seen some local new stories about other shelters in New Jersey taking in shipments of animals from down South and out West; those shelters are the same shelters that typically take our overflow. This leaves us with no transfer options and completely dependent on adoptions. We normally send an average of 150 cats and dogs out to our partners every month, so you can imagine the pinch we’re in. More importantly, please try to imagine the pinch our homeless pets are in.We get new animals in every single day of the year, but we also have some who have been sitting here, passed over time and again while others are chosen and whisked off to their new lives. The cute ones, the young ones, the ones that come in with a sob story behind them, are always the first to be chosen. It’s hard to watch dogs and cats whom we know to have wonderful personalities be left behind because they are Plain Janes or a little long in the tooth or, heaven forbid, have some pit bull mixed in somewhere.
We have little miss Nessa Rose who has been with us for almost two months now. She’s just a little over a year old and has a fantastic personality. Although she has the slighter build and pushed-in face of a boxer, she also has the misfortune of having some pit in her mix. And she has one of those faces “only a mother could love.” She’s truly one of the nicest dogs you’ll ever meet, but no one even notices her.We have a wonderful classic tabby named Connie, who has been with us since July. Tired of being cooped up in her cage in the adoption room, she wheedled her way into the heart of one of our staff and has now taken up residence in her office. Connie is about 8 years old, so she’s a “mature adult.” Are you familiar with the pop song “All About That Bass”? Well, if she could sing, she’d be all about that song; she’s no “stick figure Barbie doll” and she rather likes to throw her weight around. Her age and her matronly figure have worked against her, making her another great pet who gets overlooked.
We also have kittens of every description, and dogs of every size and age, who need to be adopted. If we can just get through the next month or so, the number of incoming animals will slow down and our partners will be back to accepting our overflow. But for now, please consider making one of our homeless pets a success story by taking one home.
In responding to reports of animal neglect and cruelty, we sometimes come across situations where our concern for the people involved is just as great as it is for the animals. Often when pets are at risk, the people that own or care for them are also facing issues such as abuse and poverty.In a recent investigation at the Cumberland County SPCA, we were reminded that there are many elderly folks out there who lack financial stability and have no family or support network to fall back on. They are often extremely attached to their pets, as their animals are their main source of comfort and companionship.
So what is to be done when a senior hasn’t the means to care for their pet properly? Removing the animal is a lousy choice, because it then leaves the person without what may very well be one of the few joys in their life. Resources to assist the owners may be limited, but the one thing we can all do is be proactive in addressing these types of situations before they become serious.Case in point: Our investigators responded to a report involving an injured cat in need of veterinary care. When they arrived at the property, they knocked on the door and were greeted by an elderly lady. It was too late for the animal that initially was involved, as it had already passed away. There were, however, two cats inside the house that were suffering severe flea infestations to the point of having major hair loss and anemia. The woman, who was displaying some signs of dementia, also was covered in fleas. She had no running water in the house, and a neighbor had hooked up a hose so that she could flush the toilet. She was also receiving some help from another benevolent organization to pay her utility bills. She has no car, no family and no other help.
Now what? We can remove the cats, but that will only make the flea infestation worse in the house and, in turn, for the owner. We could help her get flea medication for the cats, but the house would have to be treated and she is unable to do it herself, and she would have no place to go during the treatment. Even just using over-the-counter flea bombs would be a huge risk, because they are so flammable and because there is no guarantee the lady would stay out of the house during the treatment or be able to do the necessary cleanup afterwards.Because of the severity of the problems, this is a no-win situation. Beyond concern for the cats, the lady herself is in serious need of help. I have alerted the necessary senior services organizations and hope they will be able to step in and help her. In the meantime, we are helping with the cats and will remove them if necessary. I wish, though, that someone had been aware of her situation sooner and had alerted the relative service organizations before things had gotten so bad. Whether it was pride or disability that prevented her from asking for help herself, it’s a shame that she and the cats have been suffering and have reached this level of hardship.J
If you have elderly neighbors or acquaintances who have pets, there are many small ways that you can help look out for them. Consider offering transportation to the vet’s office, helping them shop for heavy items like cat litter and bags of food, taking their dogs for a walk on occasion, or just looking in on them every once in a while. Remember, too, it doesn’t have to be a report of cruelty or neglect; you can always contact us with calls of concern.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report states approximately 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs, and an additional 400,000 by cats, annually in the United States. These are only the cases that are reported; undoubtedly, there are many other bites that either did not require medical care or were omitted from the records that the CDC uses to compile its data. These statistics do not include bites from other species or serious scratches that require medical care.Whether a bite or scratch from an animal seems serious or not, it should always be cleaned immediately and thoroughly. Aside from the outside risk of being infected with rabies, of those 4.5 million dog bites, 900,000 of those victims end up with infections from their wounds. Cat scratch fever results in about 100,000 hospital visits each year. These statistics alone should be enough to convince you to take animal-related injuries seriously. But I also want to make you aware of a recent change in Trenton that makes it more important than ever that you report any encounters resulting in open wounds from animals, especially those from animals that may not be vaccinated against rabies.
Let’s start with the general process. When a person suffers an open wound from an animal, it should be reported to the local health department; doctor’s offices and hospitals are actually required to do so. At that point, in the case of a domestic animal that is in the hands of its owner or has been impounded at a shelter, the health department puts a 10-day quarantine hold on the cat or dog. The animal is observed during that period for any signs of illness that might indicate rabies. If the offending animal is a wild animal that can be captured, or a domestic animal that is showing signs of illness, the health department may determine it should be tested for rabies. In New Jersey, from Jan. 1 through June 30 of this year, 78 animals tested positive for the disease: Raccoons were first, with 48 infections; skunks, second with 12; and cats, third with 11.More: How to plan a pet-friendly vacationMore: Menantico Road in Vineland reopensHere’s where the change comes into play. In the past, samples from the infected animals were sent to labs in Trenton and the results would typically be back in two days. Due to some change in the preparedness of our state lab, samples are now sent from Trenton to an out-of-state lab and the results are not available for about five days. This is significant because if you suffer a scratch or bite that breaks skin by an animal that may have rabies, you must start treatment by having a series of rabies vaccines within three days of the bite.
A couple of weeks ago, one of our staff members at the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was scratched on a Thursday by a kitten that came had come in with some neurological symptoms. The local health department responded accordingly, and this was the first we learned of the delay in receiving test results. The kitten tested negative, but it was the following Wednesday before word came back from the state, and our technician already had to start the human vaccine series.
Please keep your own animals current on their rabies vaccines and be quick to address any open wounds from animals that you or your family might suffer.
Source: Dog bites: What should I do?
I know that not everyone is animal savvy, but it seems to me that it would be common sense that infant mammals need to be with their mamas until they’re weaned. Taking into consideration that puppies and kittens are typically going into the care of humans once they are old enough and not scavenging for food on their own, it still seems only logical that they would remain in their mother’s care until they are 6 to 8 weeks old at the very least. Even free-roaming kittens stay with their mother while she teaches them to hunt and fend for themselves; at that point, they still tend to live in colonies.I have been amazed this year at the number of infant puppies and kittens that I have seen given away, sold, or somehow finding their way to the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter.
A young human family from Bridgeton came into the shelter last week with a puppy that couldn’t have been more than 3 weeks old. He was tiny; I’m sure he didn’t even weigh 1 pound. His teeth were just breaking the surface of his gums. The people already had the pup for more than a week and had taken it from a guy who was giving away the whole litter. Fortunately, these folks had done their homework; they were bottle feeding him and knew that they needed to get de-wormers and vaccines for him.
A couple of weeks ago, we dealt with a cruelty case involving several dogs, many of which showed signs of having been repeatedly bred. There was one infant pup on the property, probably about 4 weeks old. The other pups already had been sold. The little one that we were able to get custody of weighed 2.1 pounds; she was crawling with fleas to the point where her gums were white with anemia. She would not have lived much longer with the fleas literally sucking the life out of her. I have nightmares about the rest of the litter; I can only hope that the new owners sought care for them right away.At every one of our monthly vaccine clinics, we’ve had people come with puppies that were way too young to be away from their mothers. At the shelter, we have received hundreds of kittens that should have still been nursing. The kittens tend to suffer in even greater numbers than puppies, as they are more likely to be separated from their mothers too soon. In general, they receive less human care as they are more apt to be born outdoors and without good shelter and regular monitoring.
I was happy to see that the young family who took in the infant pup had the sense of responsibility to research the necessary care. They had gone out and bought puppy formula. They came to the shelter seeking advice and medical care. Although we couldn’t help with the veterinary stuff, I think they left with a good education on the daily needs of the pup as well as an idea of what medical treatments would be needed, when they should be scheduled and how much it might cost.Separating young puppies and kittens from their mothers too soon is a form of cruelty. It can compromise the health of the babies as well as put the mother in danger of getting mastitis. If you know of anyone trying to sell or give away kittens or pups that are younger than 6 weeks, please contact us immediately.
Our Fourth of July weekend started out with a real bang here at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter! I think I must have jinxed myself as I was sitting at my desk last Wednesday, thinking that I might take off on Friday and enjoy an elongated holiday – maybe go to the beach or enjoy the pool while the weather is right for it. No sooner had the thought crossed my mind when the animal control officer from Bridgeton called my cellphone with a frantic “I need help!”Apparently he was standing in the midst of 30 to 40 dogs on two adjacent properties, and the owners wanted to give up the majority of them because they were in violation of city ordinances and were simply overwhelmed in general. Some of the dogs were in kennels, some in crates, some tied up and others in a fenced-in area. It was near the end of the day and our kennels were nearly full to capacity, so my first question for the ACO was whether the dogs needed to be removed immediately. Although there were some violations, he felt as though the dogs were in no immediate danger and
could wait until we could remove them in an organized manner that would allow us to prepare for the deluge.
Given the fullness of our kennels, I knew that we would need help from one of our shelter partners. Plans were then put into place for St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare
Center to come down and take up to 20 of the dogs back to their shelter up in Morris County. On Friday morning, our shelter staff rolled out with the ACO and removed 25 of the 35 dogs as well as two cats. Each house kept five dogs, which is the legal limit in the city. A date also was set to spay and neuter the dogs remaining on the properties.
As the ACO had described, the dogs were contained in
various ways, none of which was quite up to standards. They were all of good weight but it was obvious that they were flea-infested and, as we later confirmed, intestinal parasites as well. Some had hair loss from flea allergies, and those that required grooming were seriously in need of a “spa day."
If there is a silver lining to this, it is that all the dogs are young and small. About half of them are Chihuahua or Chihuahua mixes, and the others are mostly Havanese mixes. Staff from St. Hubert’s arrived within minutes of our arrival back at the shelter and took 13 of dogs back to their beautiful shelter in Madison.The poor pups were pretty terrified the day we brought them in, but we were able to handle them on their respective properties so they should settle in just fine once we get them calmed down and feeling safe. They are truly adorable, and we hope to have them available for adoption later this week. You can see video of the rescued pets on our website at southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.
This month marks the 70th anniversary of the incorporation of the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, but our history goes back much further than that. One hundred and twenty-six years ago, a group of concerned citizens, including a member of the original Landis family of Vineland, organized a chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Animals (SPCCA).Historically, child protection services, where they did exist, were provided by private concerns such as ours. The first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children didn’t come into being until a group was formally established in New York in 1875. Although we have many of the original minutes from meetings of the CCSPCCA, I could not find anything explaining why, in 1891, our local group decided to take up the cause of both children and animals, but I think it speaks volumes about the compassion of the founders. The turn of the century brought sweeping changes to child protection as the government stepped up to create public agencies for the task, and by 1915 our society was out of child protection business. At that point, we became formally organized and received our charter from the state of New Jersey to become the humane law enforcement entity in Cumberland County for the prevention of cruelty to animals.
In 1947, we were incorporated with our original location listed as 709 Grape St. in Vineland. The president back then was a lady named Laura Sabin, who at some point began building dog kennels onto the back of her house on Sherman Avenue. She left her house to the CCSPCA upon her passing, and that then became our shelter.
Over the years, the house was renovated to become the offices and cat holding areas, and several additions were built on to provide more kennels and a clinic space. As many as 8,000 animals a year were cared for in that ramshackle building until it was finally sold and torn down in 2004.It had been a constant struggle to maintain the crumbling walls of the old kennels, the drainage pipes were deteriorating from all the cleaning chemicals, the roof needing replacing and a surgical clinic would have had to be added in order to meet the needs of the organization in the 21st century. Things were looking rather dismal until our local hospital system decided to build a regional facility right across the street from our little shelter. Sitting on 32 acres, the old shelter was now prime real estate, and the funds from its sale would provide a wonderful opportunity to build a new facility for our homeless animals.
In my 30 years affiliated with the CCSPCA, I’ve seen amazing changes in our organization and in the industry – some good, some not so good.In the old facility, our shelter serviced just a handful of municipalities in housing their stray animals; we now work with as many as 20 in both Cumberland and Salem counties. In spite of taking animals from many more towns, the intake numbers are substantially less due to public awareness and the success of spay and neuter programs. Animal protection laws have been expanded and the penalties have become more severe for offenders.Paige Johnson had a priceless reaction at her college graduation when her boyfriend showed up with a furry, four-legged surprise.
On the not-so-good list, if anyone had told me when I began this job that one breed of dogs would dominate in every shelter in the country, I would never have thought it possible; yet, here we are with pit bulls and pit mixes pouring in as their breeding rates have soared. Some well-intended legislation has actually made it more difficult and more expensive to care for our homeless animals and to provide services for our community pets.More changes are certainly on the horizon, but I want to thank all of you who have been a part of supporting our organization and our animals through the years.