How South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in Vineland learned to really know its dogs

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!

Source: How South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in Vineland learned to really know its dogs

Five ways you can help 520 shelter pets find homes

Bev Greco speaks about animal adoption at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter on Tuesday, September 18. (Photo: Adam Monacelli/Staff Photographer)

VINELAND – Lines of those coming and going seem never-ending at the filled-to-capacity South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter, inundated with pits and kits.

“The overcrowding has been all summer,” Bev Greco, the shelter’s executive director told The Daily Journal on Tuesday. “Every time we turn around, we have kittens coming in the door.”

On Monday, the shelter took in 28 kittens pushing its occupancy up to 427 cats and 93 dogs, many of them pit bulls.

The shelter relies on a network of foster homes and rescue partners from Massachusetts to Delaware to help settle pets into homes. This poses the challenge of longer stays while pets wait for space to become available in other shelters where demand is higher and odds of adoption increase, she said.

Petco awarded the shelter a $40,000 grant to ready pets for transfers. Kittens, for example, must be healthy, weigh at least two pounds and had two rounds of vaccines before they are eligible, Greco said.

Hurricane Florence will likely impact adoptions as area shelters take in animals displaced from hard-hit areas.

“Our transfer partners will be filled up and unable to help us for a while until those animals move through,” Greco said.

Hudson poses for a picture at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter on Tuesday, September 18. He is currently up for adoption.

Hudson poses for a picture at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter on Tuesday, September 18. He is currently up for adoption. (Photo: Adam Monacelli/Staff Photograph)

How you can help:

Adopt: If you can make a long-term commitment, give a pet a home. There’s a special appeal for a bull dog aptly named Picasso due to his unique facial features. The 2-year-old’s been a guest of the shelter for 104 days.

Spay-neuter:  “This makes all the difference in the world,” Greco said. “It’s the one thing our community needs to embrace more.” The shelter offers low-cost clinics and supports trap, neuter and release as way to cut down on litters and ensure cats are vaccinated. The shelter is also encouraging a crackdown on illegal pit bull breeding.

Foster: Providing a temporary home for an animal frees space for the shelter to take in another. As of Tuesday, 38 dogs and 173 cats were in foster care.

Volunteer:  The shelter takes cats and dogs to PetSmart and other adoption events where they might catch the attention of potential adopters and needs help to do so. Saturdays are a prime time when extra help is needed.

Donate: Due to demand, the shelter needs dry cat and kitten food. Donations are also needed to cover  medical expenses for rescue pets. Send checks made out to the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter, 1244 N. Delsea Drive, Vineland, 08360. You may also donate online at www.southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

Deborah M. Marko; 856-563-5256; dmarko@gannettnj.com; Twitter: @dmarko_dj

 

(Photo: Adam Monacelli/Staff Photograph)

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Source: Five ways you can help 520 shelter pets find homes

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

 

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

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

What to do when cats are difficult to adopt

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

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

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

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

Source: What to do when cats are difficult to adopt

A dog determined to go home from the shelter

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; love is blind … and often unexpected. Such was the case for the Fifth family when they came into the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter a few years back looking to adopt one of our big, beefy pit bulls. Mrs. Fifth is big into rescuing the breed, and the family already had a particular dog in mind when they visited. The new pet was to be a birthday gift for their daughter. What none of them expected was to leave the shelter with a half blind Chihuahua/terrier mix that was in pretty rough shape from his time on the streets of Vineland.

Although they had come to meet one of our female pits, you can’t walk into the adoption rooms and not take a look at everybody. Most people who come to the shelter with hopes of adopting like to walk through both the cat and dog rooms, even if they are looking for one specific thing. Curiosity is a wonderful thing and sometimes leads us down paths we hadn’t expected. In the Fifth family’s case, their find was the same species, just in a much smaller package.

As they toured the dog adoption room they came across Butterbean, a pint-sized, scruffy Chihuahua mix who decided this family was meant for him and he was going to get to them – even if he had to dig his way out of the concrete kennel! As they approached his kennel, he took one look at them and started to dig furiously at the floor as if to tunnel his way out to them. His attempts paid off, because he got their attention very quickly and the “love at first sight” thing seemed to go both ways.

Dobby, formerly known as Butterbean, has been a very happy addition to their household and a fixture on Mom’s lap. They are so enamored with him that they have entered him in the shelter’s Dog of the Year Contest. You can vote for Dobby or any of our 12 contestants online at southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.

It’s wonderful that we are able to have such immediate connections with animals, especially when it flies in the face of our preconceived notions. The key of course, is to be realistic about whether the pet you fall for fits into your lifestyle in a manner that suits you both. Dobby’s situation was good because small packages can fit into large spaces, but the opposite can be challenging. People often come in looking for small dogs but are attracted to a big dog or a puppy that will grow into a much larger animal than they had in mind. Serious thought needs to given before taking in a pet whose needs are not what you had planned for. My Old English Sheepdog is from a rescue that took her in when her original owners could no longer keep her. She had been purchased at 8 weeks old as a present for the man’s girlfriend. They lived in a small, third-floor condo. At 13 weeks, the pup had grown to 28 pounds and they figured out very quickly that she was not going to fit into their apartment-style living.

Both Dobby and my sheepdog had wonderful endings to their stories, but the shelter often receives dogs who have outgrown their owner’s ability, or desire, to care for them. We have pets of a wide range of size and age at the shelter. We’d love to have you come in and meet your perfect match.

Source: A dog determined to go home from the shelter

Special help available for senior dogs, owners

The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in Vineland is proud to have been selected as a Grey Muzzle Organization grant recipient this year.

The Grey Muzzle Organization is a wonderful organization that funds programs run by shelters and rescues that benefit senior dogs. We have had this honor in the past, and our Grey Muzzle grants have helped to form and sustain our shelter’s Senior Society. This year’s grant is extra special because it allows us to expand our Senior Society to include community outreach and owner surrender prevention.

In addition to providing medical care for senior dogs who have been released to the shelter, were found as strays or are cruelty cases, we are now also able to offer assistance to members of our community who own senior dogs they want to keep but just need some help to be able to do so. We recognize that the best place for senior dogs is with the family who loves them, and now we have the ability to provide assistance to some families to keep them there!

We also have had situations where it’s not possible to support the dog staying home. We always strive to respect owners and their particular situation. The welfare of the animal is most important, but as a community-based program, working with and respecting owners is a part of our program as well. When these situations arise, we try to determine if it’s in the dog’s best welfare to be immediately brought to the shelter for care or if we have time to try to find a home or rescue for the dog so he can skip the often stressful shelter stay.

We are currently working with both situations:

  • Scooter’s family reached out for help and he was released to the shelter this weekend because he had developed a medical condition that needed medical care. He’s now receiving medication and soon will be looking for a new home.
  • We are also helping Mikey, a 15-year-old Corgi mix whose family is unable to care for him. They are keeping him at home until we find a family that can better meet his needs.

We also provide hospice care for senior dogs who have medical conditions that we cannot fix. We can give them lots of love and comfort and dignity as they finish out their time with us. We are currently providing a beautiful Labrador named Buddy with hospice care; he’s very loved in a foster home and receiving medication and special food to keep him feeling his best. We are seeking sponsors for Buddy’s prescription food, as we hope to be able to need it for months to come! This is a wonderful way to help us help our seniors.

And, of course, we continue to provide care for the many senior dogs that arrive as strays. We try to get our seniors into foster homes, where they are more comfortable. That’s the case with Amigo, who has been waiting for over 100 days to find a home! He’s a staff and volunteer favorite, and awesome just pours out of him like rays of sunshine! He’s perfect with other dogs and cats, and housebroken. He’s an outdoor enthusiast – loving trees and water and leaves and sunshine and dirt. If you need a devoted companion in your life, he’s the perfect AMIGO for you.

We also are caring for Jack, another favorite of staff and volunteers, who hasn’t found a forever or a foster home yet. Jack is a boxer/bulldog mix who is 8 years old and just about as lovely as they come.  He’s very well-trained, housebroken, neutered and just waiting to offer you his big paw as a sign of goodwill. He loves when volunteers snuggle in his kennel with him. He’s been a bit stiff, living in a kennel during the winter, but fortunately our Grey Muzzle Organization grant has allowed us to keep him comfortable with medication. Jack is a big boy; the only thing bigger than his paws are his heart. Jack would love to find a warm home to curl up in sooner rather than later. Come visit him at the shelter.

For more information about adoptable Senior Society dogs, sponsorship opportunities, fostering or hospice opportunities, or to seek help with a senior dog, please contact me at Rescuepartners@cumberlandcountyspca.org.

Source: Special help available for senior dogs, owners

Bittersweet victory for SPCA’s Dog of the Year

For the past nine years, the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has held a Dog of the Year competition, and it has been one of the most successful fundraisers in the history of our organization. The contest is run with 12 of our adoptees vying to raise the most money to support the animals we are currently caring for in the shelter. It’s a wonderful way for the adopters of these beloved pets to show off their candidates while helping to ensure the future of homeless pets.This year’s format was a bit different in that the dogs in the contest all belonged to our staff and board members. Whether in the hallways of the shelter or out in the cyber world, it made for some rough and tumble competition! When it was all said and done, the winner of the competition was none other than Rosco, a classy and dignified Schnauzer belonging to the president of our board of directors

Rosco originally came to us as a stray from Carneys Point back in April 2011. A middle-age adult at that time, he was purebred, perfectly groomed, perfectly behaved, housebroken and mannerly. None of us could ever understand why no one ever came to look for this perfect little guy. Even after 30 years in this industry, I am amazed at the animals that are never reclaimed by their original owners. We receive a very large percentage of stray pets that have obviously been well cared for, trained and loved, yet no one comes looking. Well, apparently it was meant to be because that person’s loss was his new mom’s gain; a more perfect match was never made.

Rosemary and Rosco became constant companions. He was stubborn, independent and had a mind of his own; yet, he was well-behaved, loving and always up for a new adventure. He loved car rides and, when it was time to buy a new vehicle, the back seat had to have just the right set-up for Rosco to ride comfortably and it had to afford him a great view. He loved long walks, going to the dog park, and sniffing every blade of grass and every tree trunk he came across. Being so well-traveled, he also became widely known and loved by many. It was a successful adoption in every way, shape and form.They were the perfect team to enter the Dog of the Year competition and they blew everyone out of the water, raising over $6,000. Sadly, though, in a heartbreaking turn of events, Rosco became ill during the summer and in spite of receiving the very best veterinary care, they were not able determine the source of his problem and he did not survive. It is a horrible thing to lose your four-legged soulmate. It is especially hard when they go before their time.A new study published Friday found dog owners generally had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and death, compared to those who didn’t own a dog. Video provided by Newsy NewslookHis victory as Dog of the Year is bittersweet, but it is gratifying to know that he was loved and celebrated. For everyone involved in the contest, it was a very emotional end to wonderful year of competition and camaraderie.

Overall, the 2017 contest raised $18,000; the fight was so fierce that the third-, fourth- and fifth-place winners were with $16 of each other. We’re very proud of our two-legged competitors; they are comprised of a highly dedicated group of people who truly go the extra mile for the shelter.

The funds raised this year bring the total of the DOY contest over the years to more than $150,000. Imagine all the animals that have been saved by those efforts. Thanks to all of you who helped support the candidates with your donations – we appreciate your kindness.

Source: Bittersweet victory for SPCA’s Dog of the Year

SPCA’s new programs are for the dogs

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!

Source: SPCA’s new programs are for the dogs