Moment of hope in overwhelming week at shelter

Summertime at South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter is like Christmas season in the retail business. The pace is frantic, the hours are long, and it’s a make-it-or-break-it situation. The animals pour in the doors, brought in by animal control officers, citizens finding strays, and owners unable to keep their pets or the offspring of their pets. With the building population at its height, staff and volunteers must spend long hours making sure all the animals get the care and attention that they so desperately need. The pressure to find homes and rescues for all of them is overwhelming.

Last week was especially difficult, because it seemed as though the rest of the world was on vacation. Adoptions were slow and no shelters or rescues were accepting transfers. On top of the usual craziness, all the electronics in the building seemed to have some sort of problem; the air conditioning was on the blink, the phones were acting up, the computers were having issues and the alarm system was going off repeatedly for no apparent reason. It was the kind of week that made me think I might enjoy a career as a barista or maybe a receptionist somewhere. But then, late Friday afternoon, I was reminded of what’s really important, when a couple of my former foster pets came in for a visit.

One of the most rewarding things in my life is to foster animals until they are ready for adoption. It can be a tough letting go when that time comes, but it is worth every moment of angst to see those animals become part of a loving family. If you are familiar with this column, you probably remember the stories about the Valentine litter that I had; born right before Christmas and adopted out in February, they and their mother were one of the highlights of my fostering experiences.

The mother is very special to me; she was part of my family for three months, and l loved experiencing the birth and raising of her pups. She had come from a rough

situation, pregnant and running loose on the streets of Bridgeton, but her luck certainly changed once the animal control officer brought her into the shelter. After delivering and weaning her pups, when the time came for her to be adopted out, it just so happened that the absolute perfect home needed a little girl like her to help fill the void of a beloved Schnauzer they had lost just before Christmas. Searching through the pets listed on the shelter’s website, the little dog’s wiry hair and intelligent eyes caught their attention right away. My precious mama dog, now Gidget, was on her way to live the life of an adored and pampered member of the family.

As fate had it, she would not be the only one of my foster animals to end up in the Burgos’ home. Having suffered the loss of another senior dog, they were soon on the

When they came in to see me last week, they were like a breath of fresh air. What a great job, I thought; who else gets to experience the fruit of their labors in the form of wagging tails and excited kisses? Even if only for a few precious moments, the furious pace of the shelter and the aggravation of the malfunctioning electronics seemed to fade away in the happiness of the reunion.lookout for another companion. As if by divine intervention, I got a text message from them about their possible interest in adopting another pet right at the time that I had a new foster pup. I was ecstatic to be able to place another dog in such a wonderful home.

You don’t have to work at the shelter to experience the joy of rescuing pets. Become a foster parent today. Check out our website at southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org for more information on becoming a foster hero.

Source: Moment of hope in overwhelming week at shelter

Full house at the animal shelter

Things at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter certainly did go off with a bang over the holiday! As expected, we became inundated with stray animals. As I mentioned in last week’s column, the Fourth of July is typically very busy for us, with pets becoming displaced during backyard parties and  running in panic from the tremendous noise and vibrations of the fireworks. It must have been a banner year for celebrations, because by noon the shelter began filling up.

New arrivals at the shelter are kept in an intake area, which typically provides plenty of room for animals brought in by animal control officers (ACOs) when the shelter is closed. After receiving a heads-up from one of the ACOs that space was getting tight, I stopped in around 3 in the afternoon to see if I could move any of the animals out of intake, knowing that the fireworks were yet to take their toll. I expected to walk in and find a bunch of big, goofy yard dogs that had jumped at the chance to escape through a gate accidently left open with the arrival of the partygoers but, much to my surprise, it was a completely different lineup.

RhettIn the next cage was a Cairn Terrier that was instantly thrilled to see anyone who was willing to pay him attention. I could tell instantly that he was too ornery to be afraid; he was just out for a good time.

 

The third cage was more of what I had expected to find: a larger, mixed-breed male. He was NOT happy to see me, and he let me know it before I even got in front of his kennel. The next cage held a pug mix whose owner had been arrested and hauled off to jail. That poor little guy was neither happy nor sad to see me; he had more of that “Yo, what just happened here?” look to him.

 

The kennel after that held a sawed-off little Miniature Pinscher/Yorkie mix? That’s truly a wild guess as far as breed mix, but he’s an adorable little guy – black with brown markings, with wiry hair and very short legs. Finally, our last little prize was a tiny, female Yorkie who was very excited at the prospect of having someone to pick her up and cuddle her. I’m truly surprised that she was ever out of anyone’s arms long enough to get lost.

After moving several of our newcomers into other kennels, I thought we would be ready for whatever the night would bring. Needless to say, I didn’t try to move the big guy who was feeling a little cranky about his stint in the pokey, but the other kennels were emptied for the next wave.The next morning, they were all filled up again, which was no surprise. The thing that shocked me was that the big dog who had given me so much attitude was the first one to be reclaimed, and he turned out to be a total sweetheart after mom and dad showed up!

When I came in to the shelter on the 4th, I had hoped to be able to identify the owners of some of the strays so that I could contact them, possibly get some of the dogs out of there and, if nothing else, relieve the people that their pets were safe. Not one of those dogs was wearing an ID tag … just sayin’..

                                                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: Full house at the animal shelter

If you love dogs, don’t let one be loneliest number

One of the biggest challenges in animal sheltering is finding placement for dogs who need to be the only dog in the household.

We really need to talk about dogs getting along with other dogs.

One of the biggest challenges in animal sheltering is finding placement for dogs who need to be the only dog in the household. It doesn’t mean they are unadoptable and it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them, but for some reason it makes it almost impossible to find them a home.

First, let’s talk about how we determine if a dog would do well in a home with other dogs. The first thing we do is look at the animal’s history, if we have access to it. Did they live or interact with other dogs? What sex and size were those dogs? How comfortable were they together?

There are a couple pieces of information we are looking for with the dog meet. First, we want to know how the dog reacts to seeing the other dog. If it’s immediately aggressive, that is concerning and we typically have to stop the meet for their safety. These dogs typically are not considered adoptable due to safety concerns.

But there are some dogs who just don’t do well with other dogs. It may be outright aggression, it may be defensiveness after surviving an attack, it may be resource guarding or it may be just a simple preference to not be messed with by another dog. Whatever the reason is, once they are labeled “only-dog,” their chances of finding a home decrease dramatically.

It doesn’t need to be that way. There are many, many homes out there that do not desire to have multiple dogs. It would be amazing if these families would consider some of our wonderful pups and see how much they have to offer. Having one dog allows you to really focus on the needs of that dog, and likely do more together. It’s also fewer vet bills to worry about.

Adopters should keep in mind that just because they need to live as an only-pet now, that doesn’t mean that once they relax out of the shelter and become more settled, that they won’t feel differently. Or that they can’t be around other dogs at social events. It all depends on your particular dog.

If you are looking for a special dog to be your one and only, consider Diamond, a beautiful pittie who lived with another dog for years and now prefers not to share the spotlight. She sure does have a lot of love to share. Take her out and she’ll give you her paw as a promise to be best friends. You also could check out Rusty, a little guy with a lot of potential. The shelter is stressful for Rusty, so it’s hard for him to be around other dogs at this time. But he’s otherwise a fun, young pup with a lot of love to share. Either of these dogs is sure to fill your heart.

Source: If you love dogs, don’t let one be loneliest number

Some heroes wear leashes instead of capes

The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in Vineland has dogs of all shapes and sizes — dogs who aren’t going to ever judge you.

It was a heroic week in the world of dogs! Two really cool stories about dogs rescuing their owners came through last week. It’s wonderful to see some positive press about dogs, especially because one of these dogs is a bully breed, which is typically featured in a negative light in the media. The other dog is a special-needs senior.

The special-needs senior, a cattle dog named Max, became a hero when his 3-year-old girl became lost in the Australian bush. Clearly, this is an extremely dangerous situation. The little girl was fortunate that Max followed her and stayed with her through the night. The next day, Max was able to find the girl’s grandmother and lead her back to the child to rescue her. Amazingly, Max is 17 years old, deaf and partially blind. None of his disabilities stopped him when his girl needed help. The local police department responded by making Max an honorary police officer.

Sasha is an 8-month-old pit bull who saved her entire family from a fire in California. Her family claims they don’t typically keep Sasha outside, but that night she happened to be outside and was the first one alerted to the presence of the quick-moving fire. Sasha created a fuss, banging on the door and barking until her owner woke up. As soon as the owner opened the door to see what was going on, Sasha bolted past her, up the stairs and into the room of the 7-month-old baby. Before the owner even realized what was happening, Sasha had grabbed the baby by the diaper and was removing him from the danger. Thanks to Sasha’s alertness, although their apartment was destroyed, the entire family remained safe.

Doing a quick internet search will reveal many, many instances in which dogs heroically rescued people. Police and military dogs take on rescue missions every single day; heroism is part of their job description. There are other dogs who are more quietly heroic – therapy dogs who improve people’s quality of life, service dogs who guide the blind and sense impending medical emergencies. There are dogs who comfort victims of trauma and dogs who help kids learn to read.

Even “regular” dogs can be heroes. Working at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter, I have the pleasure of being able to talk to many families about their experiences with pets. Many times, I have heard, “This dog saved my life.” It may not be a rescue from a fire, but sometimes a pet can provide the type of support that allows people at their lowest to keep going. A pet reminds them that they are needed and valuable; their pet needs them to take care of them. A pet provides comfort at any time during the day or night. There is just nothing quite like a pet.

Where do these hero dogs come from? Well, they can come from anywhere. But the best place to find your own personal hero is the shelter. The South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter in Vineland has dogs of all shapes and sizes; dogs who aren’t going to ever judge you, and just want to be your family and be there for you. If you find yourself feeling lost or in need of companionship, the animal shelter is the place you need to go.

Source: Some heroes wear leashes instead of capes

New day for South Jersey animal shelter

Allie

The time has come for a complete makeover! After more than a century of hard work, the time has come to iron out the wrinkles and put on a fresh face. Back in the late 1800s, when our organization was first conjured up, we were just a small group of caring individuals who touted themselves as the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children & Animals. Lacking protective agencies for the well-being of kids or pets, some of our community’s founding members took it upon themselves to help make the world a little better for those most vulnerable in our society.

Over the years, we grew into a much larger society of like-minded people. Government agencies had begun providing services for needy and homeless children, but the animals still needed our protection. In 1915, we were granted a formal charter from the state of New Jersey to enforce animal cruelty laws and thus became the Cumberland County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. No government funding was provided; we relied completely on the generosity of our donors and volunteers to meet the challenges of investigating reports of cruelty and neglect.

In 1947, we were incorporated by the state of New Jersey as a nonprofit corporation, and a very dedicated member named Laura Sabin donated her house to be utilized as a small shelter. A handful of kennels were attached to the back of the little house, and it was revamped to offer refuge to approximately 20 dogs and 50 cats. Spaying and neutering animals was virtually unheard of, and pet overpopulation was rampant. For 50 years, that little shelter, which had tacked on a few more kennels and a few more cat rooms, was handling as many as 8,000 animals a year! Space and resources were severely lacking, and many pets were put down simply because there were way too many.

Big changes, both culturally and legally, have occurred in our society over the past several years. Spaying and neutering have become increasingly successful deterrents to pet overpopulation. Extraordinary efforts are being made at every level of society to save the lives of homeless animals. It’s an exhaustive effort requiring tremendous resources in providing care, medical attention and behavioral training; but it is happening. Most pet lovers today embrace the adoption and rescue of homeless pets and actively support these efforts. On a national level, millions of pets that would have been doomed to an early death in prior decades are being saved as we march toward the goal of finding placement for ALL adoptable animals.

The biggest change in the history of our organization has come this year. In January, New Jersey finally recognized that acts of animal cruelty and neglect are serious issues that should be investigated and prosecuted just like all other crimes. Legislation was passed to have these duties handed over to police departments and county prosecutor’s offices rather than by nonprofit, nonsubsidized volunteer groups. It will take time for this transition to smooth out, but the change was way overdue and highly necessary.

As of May 1 of this year, our organization no longer handles cases of animal cruelty and neglect. Having turned in our badges, we can now concentrate totally on caring for our shelter animals, achieving the goal of finding placement for all our adoptable animals and realizing the goal of never having to euthanize an animal unless it is a threat to public safety or is suffering irredeemable health issues.

The dissolution of our law enforcement duties has refined our mission, and with this huge transition comes a change in our name. The Cumberland County SPCA has been officially changed to the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter. It’s a new day, it’s a different world; we hope you will continue to share in our mission of reducing pet overpopulation and helping our all homeless pets find a new beginning.

 

Source: New day for South Jersey animal shelter

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

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!

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

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