Thanksgiving weekend has come and gone, and before we jump into holiday madness, the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter would like to stop and give thanks after an especially wonderful weekend. It’s not always easy to remember to be grateful in animal sheltering. The past weeks have been difficult; we have seen some adoptions not work out, and your heart can’t help but break for the confused animal who returns to their cage after thinking they were home. Intake has been especially high for cats, which complicates everything. Usually intake is slowing down this time of year and we can focus on some of our long-term residents; however, we continued to have to handle emergency situations including sick kittens, medically fragile seniors, and even cats giving birth.
As the holiday approached, our staff was feeling overwhelmed, tired and in desperate need of some positivity. Wednesday was especially chaotic and, despite holiday hours that saw us closing early, staff remained at the shelter hours late as they tended to the many needs of the hundreds of animals. The last thing we wanted to do on Thanksgiving morning is get up early and head back – but we were surprised to find the parking jam packed full! Not only had the staff arrived, but dozens of volunteers were present, ready to serve a Thanksgiving feast to all of the animals. They had been working hard behind the scenes to prepare pet-friendly food and they arrived early to serve. Every single animal received a home-cooked meal, a truly special treat.
In addition, the volunteers bundled up and made sure that almost every dog had a walk outside with some personal TLC. The cats weren’t left out. Junior Volunteers filled the cat rooms, handing out meals, toys and cuddles. The animals loved this extra attention, and we could tell that they were feeling the excitement and warmth of the holiday.
As the morning turned to afternoon, every animal had been fed and loved and it was time for the volunteers to return to their families. But we noticed that at a time when the animals would just be getting ready for a long day ahead, they were calm. The kennels were quiet and the cats were resting peacefully. Apparently, Thanksgiving naps aren’t just for humans!
It was a beautiful morning all around: Not just seeing the animals so excited and then so relaxed and calm, but seeing the staff and volunteers working together to make it special for them. The volunteers put time and money into purchasing and preparing their meals. They sacrificed their holiday morning to spend with the animals, and many even helped with daily chores such as laundry on the holiday. Staff members who weren’t working spent the morning volunteering alongside the volunteers. It was a lovely reminder of how fortunate we are to have such great people supporting our shelter and our animals.
Thanksgiving was followed by a weekend filled with adoptions! Perhaps the Thanksgiving feast had the animals ready to shine, because our Black Friday adoption promotion was wildly successful and saw 15 dogs and 18 cats and kittens adopted. What an amazing way to kick off the holiday season. While the hustle and bustle during the event had the staff and volunteers working hard, what better result could we ask for? We again found ourselves grateful for our community’s excitement about adoption and happy endings for the animals we love so much.
We’re starting off the holiday season in a great place and we’re excited to see what December brings. We’re already having fun with Pet Photos with Santa and looking forward to sharing more holiday fun with our volunteers, community and animals.
The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter has reached out many, many times this summer in need of help with our adoptable dogs. Our shelter has been consistently full, with more dogs arriving in need of our help than we have been able to find homes and rescues for. This has been extremely challenging, and we have wound up with several dogs staying at the shelter for months while we exhaust all of our options to find them homes. Our saving grace during this difficult time has been two things: our amazing volunteers, and dog playgroups!
Dog playgroups are when multiple dogs are brought together into a playgroup for socialization and exercise. It is not a new concept for us, but it has always been a challenge to incorporate it into our regular routines. Last summer, at the Best Friends National Conference, we attended a workshop by Dogs Playing for Life, an organization that teaches shelters how to incorporate playgroups safely and demonstrates the benefits of such a program. This summer, our friends at Camden County Animal Shelter invited us to a workshop led by Dogs Playing for Life expert staff, who walked us through all the ins and outs of playgroups. We held our first official playgroup two days later.
To explain the benefits of playgroups, I will share the words of Aimee Sadler, the founder of Dogs Playing for Life: “Our programs stress the consideration of the whole animal, physically, emotionally, and behaviorally. We treat all animals as individuals. None of our behavior programs discriminate due to breed or category. … There is no doubt that offering a more natural environmental and comprehensive approach helps shelters to better assess behavior, maintain healthy behavior and support better adoption matches.”
Playgroups have now been implemented at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter multiple times a week. It is still a challenge to find time to have staff available for playgroups, while making sure the many, many responsibilities inside the shelter continue to be addressed. But we believe in the validity of the program, so we are working on balancing all of our responsibilities to the animals. We are learning so much more about the dogs we care for. Not only do we get a better idea of how they will respond to other dogs, we are learning about their personalities and seeing different sides of them than we see inside the shelter. We have seen terrified dogs who huddle in the backs of their kennels transform into happy, running, playing dogs – like they are supposed to be. We have seen dogs surprise us with their joy and tolerance for other dogs, while we have learned that some dogs are more particular in their playmates. All of this information helps us make better adoptive matches.
In addition, our volunteers have been spending lots of time with our dogs, ensuring that their time at the shelter is filled not only with play, but structured walks and regular social interactions with people. Volunteers have given us valuable insight into the dogs’ personalities and energy levels, making sure the dogs know how much they are loved while they are with us. Our staff loves the animals, and there are things we do throughout each day to ensure they are comfortable, but we rely on volunteers to get them out to events where they can show off and to give them all those extra moments of love and care that mean so much.
In addition, we have volunteers have taken new and fantastic photos of our adoptable dogs (and cats) that truly capture their personalities and what make them so special. You can find great information about our dogs and cats, as well as beautiful professional photos, on their Petfinder profile and also on our Facebook pages (the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter page and the Second Chances – South Jersey Animals in Need page).
While we are working hard to make the shelter as positive as possible for our animals, the best way to improve their quality of life is to find them homes – and for that we need you! Come to our shelter anytime during business hours to meet our hundreds of pets looking for homes. You also can view most adoptable animals on our website. Tell us about your family and your home, and see which animal will fit in best. Give a chance to the ones who don’t look like you thought they would, who have special needs, who are older than you thought. You may be surprised to find out who steals your heart!
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.
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 email@example.com.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.
We have more exciting announcements from the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. This past weekend, we featured the grand opening of the Kitten Nursery. If you didn’t get a chance to stop in, the nursery will remain set up throughout kitten season, so please stop in anytime! We also are continuing our Kitten Shower for donations and featuring our promotion in which if you adopt one cat or kitten you can adopt a second for free.This week’s exciting updates are for the dogs – literally. We have introduced two new exciting programs for our volunteers to share with our adoptable dogs: sleepovers and outings! The goal is to let our adoptable dogs shine in a new light. We know that what you see is not necessarily what you get when it comes to viewing dogs at the shelter. Adopters are making their initial (and most important) impressions of the dogs when they walk through the kennels and see them inside their cages. This is when the dogs are typically the most excited; and while jumping and barking are normal kennel-related behaviors, adopters often may think that the dog is out of control. Their excitement only escalates when they are picked to be taken out, and it can be hard for them to be on their best behavior for that extremely important first meeting with their potential family.
Taking the dogs out of the shelter environment is a great way to show them off and to decrease their stress. Outings are short-term trips in which a volunteer picks up a dog and takes him or her out for any amount of time. This may be a quick trip to the drive-thru on their lunch break, a walk through the park or a long ride in the car. We hope that community members will see the dogs out and about think of them as more than shelter dogs – they will see them as potential exercise partners, companions and family members. They will see their potential and hopefully be eager to take them home. Volunteers will act as adoption facilitators while they are out; anyone interested will be able to speak to the volunteer to learn more about the dog’s personality and the next step they would need to take to adopt. So if you see someone with an SPCA T-shirt or a dog with an “Adopt Me” vest, please don’t hesitate to say hello.
We’re also hoping to improve the dog’s quality of life by encouraging our volunteers to take them home for sleepovers. We all recognize the value of vacation, even a short one, and especially when times are tough. Sleepovers are a vacation for our dogs, a break from everything that creates stress in a shelter situation. They are a chance to receive some extra love and attention in a home environment, and also an opportunity for us to get a better feel for who these dogs really are. We’re looking forward to sharing some more valuable information and fun photos about the dogs based on what our volunteers learn from them at sleepovers. Right now, you must be trained volunteer in order to take a dog for an outing or a sleepover. We encourage anyone who is interested in joining these exciting new programs to join our volunteer program. In addition to outings and sleepovers, our volunteers help by walking dogs and cuddling cats at the shelter, helping at special events and providing valuable help with jobs around the shelter.
And we have more opportunities to come. You can contact Volunteers@cumberlandcountyspca.org for volunteers 18 years of age or older and Jrvolunteers@cumberlandcountyspca.org for volunteers age 8 to 17. The more volunteers we have, the more we can accomplish! The animals need our help, and we’re excited to offer these new and fun opportunities. And whenever you are out and about in the community, consider keeping some yummy dog treats in your pocket – you never know who may come barking at your door!
PITTSGROVE – Dogs and their owners mixed beautifully Sunday afternoon at the Cumberland County SPCA’s annual Step For A Pet fundraiser.Now in its 23rd year, the yearly event at Parvin State Park drew hundreds of local animal lovers with the lure of pet-friendly attractions, food for all creatures and live entertainment.“It’s great; it brings a lot of awareness,” Fairton resident Darlene Morris said. “Everyone here is a dog lover, so they share that love.” Morris attended the event with her friend Dawn Stauffer, who brought along two of her seven dogs, Rumor and Gypsy — both white boxers.
A fellow volunteer at the SPCA and a local dog groomer, Stauffer was glad to see the community come out and show its support.“They’re a great bunch of people; they save a lot of lives,” the Shiloh resident said.
Several hundred people came out Sunday, April 30, 2017, to Parvin State Park for the CCSPCA’s annual fundraiser. (Photo: Staff photo/Daniel J. Kov)
No dogs were discriminated against, with Chihuahuas mixing with Labradors and dachshunds alike.Many of the dogs who attended the walkathon were themselves adopted from the CCSPCA.
“My heart gets overjoyed and touched to see so many people together with their animals,” said Arlene Baruffi, who was the MC of the event.Adoption is the main goal of the animal shelter, which takes in animals and turns them into pets ready for a home.“A lot of the dogs come in in bad shape,” Baruffi said, noting the SPCA takes in about 5,000 animals a year.The bulk of the proceeds collected will go towards covering the healthcare costs of the shelter’s animals, Baruffi said.“We want to make sure they are adoptable for homes — that’s our purpose,” she said.
Also featured at the event was the beloved ‘Dog of the Year’ contest, which features dogs competing for votes and donations.The pooch with the most is crowned ‘Dog of the Year’ in the fall.Baruffi said the competition has brought in more than $130,000 over the eight years it has been established.
Daniel J. Kov; (856) 563-5262; firstname.lastname@example.org
When the students in Susan Belmonte’s fourth-grade class at The Ellison School in Vineland decided to help the animals at the Cumberland County SPCA, they came up with a good plan. They got creative and made bracelets and sold them to family members and friends. When the project was finished, they were able to make a donation of $100 to the SPCA.
VINELAND – The Cumberland County SPCA is eager to convert your unwanted shoe stash into much needed shelter cash.Through an established relationship with the WoofTrax app, the shelter staff is now participating in a new fundraising opportunity.RELATED: Dogs & cats at Cumberland County SPCA need a homeWooftrax Shoes for Shelters & Rescue purchases new or gently used footwear from shelters at a bulk rate.So the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is hosting a shoe drive, asking the community to bring in their old soles.“They donate shoes to us, we bag them up,” said shelter staffer Kelly Serbeck. “We’ve gotten about a 100 pairs and we’ve only been collecting for about three or four days.”Buy PhotoSneakers and Sandals play in a pair of boots at the Cumberland County SPCA in Vineland on Friday, August 26. “They are not going to be dog toys, that’s one of the big questions we’ve gotten so far,” she said.WoofTrax repurposes the shoes as an entrepreneurial enterprise.“They send them to places like Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where they set people up with stands so they can sell them,” Serbeck said.In other news: Reward offered in girl’s shootingEveryone can help.“They take anything; flip flops, work books, sandals, heels and sneakers,” she said, noting all sizes, including children’s shoes are accepted.The SPCA is looking for partners and businesses who will set up donation bins and serve as collection sites.They have until Nov. 5 to collect as many shoes as possible. The goal is to reach 2,500 pair of shoes, which would net them about $1,000, Serbeck said.A bag of donated shoes at the Cumberland County SPCA. The shoe donation program is well-established.“Apparently it’s been around for a little while but this is our first time,” Serbeck said.They discovered it through its connection to the WoofTrax “Walk for a Dog” program where people raise money for their animal shelters by downloading the free “Walk for a Dog” app.The app uses GPS to track the distance of your walk and the shelter you select gets a donation, which is based on the quantity and distances of the shelter’s registered walkers.It’s not necessary to be walking a dog to earn the shelter funds. The app, through its “Walk for Cassie” option, allows you to create a dream dog.Other options include volunteering to walk a shelter dog, or adopting one, the SPCA said.Buy PhotoSneakers and Sandals play in a pair of boots at the Cumberland County SPCA in Vineland on Friday, August 26. (Photo: Justin Odendhal/Staff Photographer)WoofTrax encouraged shelters to promote the dog-walking fundraiser when the Pokémon Go craze hit. They reminded supporters “to log their miles while they are out Poké hunting, they could be racking up miles for your shelter,” Serbeck said.While chasing the Pokemon promotion, Serbeck said they discovered the shoe fundraiser.It’s a good idea because it reaches a wide audience, Serbeck said, noting they are asking people to open their closets, not their wallets.The timing is good with local families out back-to-school shopping.Benefits of the fundraiser are tri-fold, said Catherine Shepherd, the shelter’s volunteer/events coordinator. People clean a closet and help someone support their family all while raising money for the shelter.“It’s a win, win, win,” she said.Deborah M. Marko: (856) 563-5256; email@example.com
VINELAND - Children in the Cumberland County Library’s Summer Reading Program had a great time practicing their reading skills when they participated in the Furry Tales reading program at the Cumberland County SPCA. During the visit, the children read stories to the pets who are waiting to be adopted. The library’s summer reading program continues in August.The library is at 800 E. Commerce St., in Bridgeton.More Neighbors news: Take time to play!For a schedule of activities or information, call (856) 453-2210 or visit www.cclnj.org.
(Photos: Cumberland County Library)
VINELAND - Dogs and their owners enjoyed a Hawaiian luau on Saturday thanks to the dedicated members of the Junior Volunteer group at the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.Dressed in Hawaiian leis and pet bathing suits, dogs splashed in and out of plastic kiddie pools set up to create the Bow Wow Beach during the Luv-A-Pet Luau.Declawing involves clipping off an animal's nail at the joint, which is akin to cutting off a person's finger at the first joint, advocates of a newly-proposed NY ban say.Some dogs, such as Sir Moe, an English bulldog owned by Matt Wiita of Vineland, walked from pool to pool and eventually laid down in the cool water. “We like bringing our dogs around other dogs. It’s like a social event for them,” said Wiita.Although it was still hot on Saturday, the heat was not as dangerous as last weekend, the original date for the luau. Temperatures were predicted to reach 100 degrees on July 23, so organizers postponed the event for a week.“We didn’t want to harm any of the dogs, and we didn’t want to put our junior volunteers at risk,” said Maria Stoerrle, director of the Junior Volunteer program, noting that postponing the luau was an ideal example of making responsible pet-ownership decisions.The Luv-A-Pet Luau was organized and staffed by the Junior Volunteers with support from the SPCA staff.“We want to get the kids involved with fun activities because we want them to have the chance to learn about the shelter,” said Stoerrle. “Also, all the activity may attract people to come into the shelter. You never know when someone is going to make a connection with an animal.” On Saturday, the volunteers offered dog sitting services for dog owners who wanted to check out the shelter and help in any other way possible. They became targets in a dunk tank, offered refreshments and brought shelter dogs outside to enjoy the festivities.Kristen Smith of Vineland brought her dog, Benny, to the luau. She adopted him from the Cumberland County SPCA six months ago and wanted to bring him out to see the staff and the volunteers. “They like to see the happy endings,” said Smith.Connor Morgado of Vineland and his dog Trixie, Sal Gaetano and Nicole Gaetano, also of Vineland, and their dog, Zoey, enjoy the Bow Wow Beach at the Luv-A-Pet Luau at the Cumberland County SPCA on Saturday. Sandy and Andy Corrado of Vineland brought their dog, Spike, for a fun day out. “The SPCA does so much. We’re happy to come out and support them,” said Sandy Corrado.Activities included games and crafts for children, refreshments for pet owners, a paw print activity, dog baths and beach-themed pet photos.The luau closed with a doggie swimsuit contest featuring guest pets and dogs that are available for adoption at the shelter.Steve Tatz of Crusin’ 92.1 volunteered to serve as DJ throughout the event, and representatives from Kizzy’s Place rescue were on hand with a few cats and kittens that are available for adoption. A&M Bounce-A-Lot donated the dunk tank and refreshments.