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

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

Tick, tick, tick … Protect your pet from these pests

We’re going to bounce around a little bit in this column so that we can give you a couple of reminders and updates. First, as the warm weather has FINALLY graced us with its presence, it has brought the ticks with it. The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter staff is seeing more and more of these pests on dogs coming into the shelter. With the uptick (no pun intended!) in tick-borne diseases, it is imperative for the health of your dog that you have him or her on a good external parasite preventative. Most external parasite treatments handle both fleas as well as ticks, and the fleas won’t be far behind. You can purchase the preventative treatments at the shelter, pet supply stores, vet offices and online. We always suggest that you consult with your veterinarian before starting treatment.

If you’ve been outdoors enjoying this nice weather, you also may have noticed all of the insects seem to have emerged overnight. I saw mosquitoes in my garden last week, which means your dog may be at risk of contracting heartworm disease if not on the preventative medication. Heartworm disease is fatal if not treated, but it’s easily preventable. You must take your dog to a veterinarian to get this medication, as it is not available over the counter.

Our foster homes are still filled with kittens who are not old enough to be placed in their permanent homes yet, and we are receiving more every day. We are always looking to recruit new foster homes and hope that you will consider learning about the impact you can have in saving the lives of pets in need by providing temporary care. Fostering can involve dogs or cats – whichever you are comfortable with – and may include an individual animal or a litter, according to your abilities. To learn about fostering, email our foster coordinator at fosters@southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

Finally, the shelter’s low-cost vaccine clinics begin on May 19 and will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on the third Saturday of every month from now through October. Dogs and cats are welcome at the clinics. Dogs must be on short leashes with secure collars or harnesses. Cats MUST be in secure carriers. Rabies, distemper and Bordetella vaccines are available. If you want a three-year rabies vaccine, you must bring proof of the prior vaccine. Flea and tick preventatives are available at the clinics. We carry Provecta for dogs, which contains four monthly doses for $30; and Catego for cats, which contains three monthly doses for $35. Cash or credit cards are accepted. Our low-cost spay/neuter clinic is available every week; appointments can be made at the shelter or online. You can find us online at southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

Source: Tick, tick, tick … Protect your pet from these pests

Life at the shelter: 116 kittens in 2 weeks!

Here we go again.

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

 

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

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

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

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

Difficult choice at shelter when pregnant cats arrive

While everybody else in the world was celebrating the beautiful burst of warm weather, at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter we were bracing ourselves. Warm weather means kittens – and all the stress and urgency that come along with them. For weeks, we have looked at our empty cages and enjoyed every moment, knowing that the end was close. The sunshine and high temperatures brought on exactly what we expected, and in the past week we were introduced to over 35 homeless kittens who entered our shelter or were born there.

I feel like I must have written about kitten season dozens of times, but today I’m going to broach a topic that is one of the most difficult and thought-provoking of all issues brought up by kitten season.  However, before you continue reading, you must understand what kitten season looks like in an open-intake shelter. You must picture every cage filled with cats and kittens, and animal control arriving with yet another cage filled that need a place to stay.

So one must understand that kitten season is about making the best of your situation, properly caring for your animals, and working hard to save as many lives as possible. And while we have increased our lifesaving rates by thousands, and euthanasia is at its lowest rate ever, we are still constantly faced with difficult situations.

Billy Madison

What is the correct thing to do when a cat arrives pregnant? While my sentimental side shouts that every life is precious, the logical side of me knows that allowing a pregnant cat to deliver only causes more problems. We struggle already to find placement for mom cats with infant kittens. And when we do find placement, that home will be tied up for at least eight weeks caring for mom and kittens while they grow and wean. This puts kittens who have already been born at risk. If mom is spayed, not only can we focus our resources and efforts toward kittens who are already alive, but mom will be ready to be adopted in just a few short days, rather than weeks. The bottom line is that the reason kitten season is so devastating is because of the sheer volume of cats and kittens. While spaying pregnant cats can be difficult to accept, we have to take the responsible path by exercising population control, which ultimately allows us to save more lives.

We encourage everyone at this time to be proactive and do your part by getting cats spayed and neutered.

Now.

Now is the time – just last week, four cats on stray holds (we can’t spay them during their legal stray hold) have given birth at the shelter. We couldn’t even tell that one was pregnant! There’s no reason for pet cats not to be spayed or neutered, and we encourage citizens to help by making sure neighborhood cats are also spayed and neutered. There are many resources for getting community cats fixed; prices are often discounted and traps can be loaned. Appointments can be made at our clinic by stopping at shelter or visit our website. Aside from our clinic, there are other excellent, low-cost options at the People for Animals clinic in Gloucester County, Camden County Animal Shelter or Animal Welfare Association in Camden County, or the Atlantic County SPCA. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

As one can imagine, with the sudden arrival of so many kittens, we are in urgent need of supplies. We desperately need KMR (Kitten Milk Replacer) and also need Snuggle Safes (microwaveable heat pads). We also seek new families to help us save lives by fostering. Fill out our online foster application and contact Fosters@cumberlandcountyspca.org for more information.

Source: Difficult choice at shelter when pregnant cats arrive

What you need to know before getting a dog

Over the past several years, pet insurance has become more and more popular. There are now a dozen insurance companies in the U.S. that offer policies for cats, dogs and even some exotic pets. Like all insurances, I’d rather stick hot needles in my eyes than try to understand how and when they kick in, and how much should be invested in them. Unless you choose a purebred pet, such as an English Bulldog, that is almost guaranteed to need lifelong extensive veterinary care, it’s a gamble as to whether it will be worth it in the animal’s lifespan.

I mention English Bulldogs because they can be one of the most expensive breeds to own – a factor that should be seriously considered when choosing a pet. Bulldogs are bred to be brachycephalic, or extremely short-snouted, which can result in respiratory problems and skin issues in the folds around their mouth. Their common problems also include severe skin allergies, eczema, degenerative spine disease, cherry eye and hip dysplasia, just to name a few. People love their sad, pushed-in faces, their broad shoulders and short stubby legs, but these are the things that set them up for big problems.

His misfortune in being picked up by the dog catcher and ending up in the “pokey,” so to speak, turned out to be a stroke of luck for him. We’re working on finding the resources and advocates needed to get his medical issues addressed and to make sure that he’s monitored regularly. Whether that happens through his owner or through rescue has yet to be determined, but either way, he will receive the care that he needs.

English Bulldogs are one of the breeds whose medical challenges are extreme, but any time you are considering a specific breed it’s imperative that you understand as much as possible about the health issues that may be common to them. Being ill-prepared for such considerations often leaves pets suffering poor health, and gets owners in over their heads financially. For breeds who are predisposed to medical issues, pet insurance is a no-brainer and could be the difference between putting down a pet and being able to afford expensive veterinary services.

 Plans generally cost anywhere from $10 to $40 per month, according to what coverage you choose, but can be more expensive for some pure breed pets. There are plans covering only accidents/injuries, which are on the cheaper end; plans that cover illness and disease in the mid-range; and those that cover all conditions at the high end. Premiums also may be affected by gender and the cost of living in your area. Whether you choose to insure your pet or not, it’s always a good idea to set aside money for both regular veterinary care and the unexpected. Annual costs including office visits, vaccines and parasite treatments can run a few hundred dollars in and of themselves. There are good resources for comparing plans on the internet, and your vet’s office may be able to offer some advice as well.

Source: What you need to know before getting a dog

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

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

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

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

Amy

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

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

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

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

Spring is here – is your pet prepared?

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

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

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

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

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

Source: Spring is here – is your pet prepared?