Our Fourth of July weekend started out with a real bang here at the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter! I think I must have jinxed myself as I was sitting at my desk last Wednesday, thinking that I might take off on Friday and enjoy an elongated holiday – maybe go to the beach or enjoy the pool while the weather is right for it. No sooner had the thought crossed my mind when the animal control officer from Bridgeton called my cellphone with a frantic “I need help!”
Apparently he was standing in the midst of 30 to 40 dogs on two adjacent properties, and the owners wanted to give up the majority of them because they were in violation of city ordinances and were simply overwhelmed in general. Some of the dogs were in kennels, some in crates, some tied up and others in a fenced-in area. It was near the end of the day and our kennels were nearly full to capacity, so my first question for the ACO was whether the dogs needed to be removed immediately. Although there were some violations, he felt as though the dogs were in no immediate danger and could wait until we could remove them in an organized manner that would allow us to prepare for the deluge.
Given the fullness of our kennels, I knew that we would need help from one of our shelter partners. Plans were then put into place for St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center to come down and take up to 20 of the dogs back to their shelter up in Morris County. On Friday morning, our shelter staff rolled out with the ACO and removed 25 of the 35 dogs as well as two cats. Each house kept five dogs, which is the legal limit in the city. A date also was set to spay and neuter the dogs remaining on the properties.
As the ACO had described, the dogs were contained in various ways, none of which was quite up to standards. They were all of good weight but it was obvious that they were flea-infested and, as we later confirmed, intestinal parasites as well. Some had hair loss from flea allergies, and those that required grooming were seriously in need of a “spa day.”
If there is a silver lining to this, it is that all the dogs are young and small. About half of them are Chihuahua or Chihuahua mixes, and the others are mostly Havanese mixes. Staff from St. Hubert’s arrived within minutes of our arrival back at the shelter and took 13 of dogs back to their beautiful shelter in Madison.
The poor pups were pretty terrified the day we brought them in, but we were able to handle them on their respective properties so they should settle in just fine once we get them calmed down and feeling safe. They are truly adorable, and we hope to have them available for adoption later this week. You can see video of the rescued pets on our website at southjerseyregionalanimalshelter.org.