As the COVID-19 crisis continues on, families continue to struggle and the South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter continues to do our best to support them. Our Outreach Department has been busy helping families by providing pet food through our Pet Pantry, assisting with owners who need to re-home their pets, and problem-solving other issues to keep pets together with their families.
Recently we found ourselves in possession of an adorable, fluffy old dog with the stinkiest breath you can imagine. He was such a nice little dog and his long fur was in surprisingly good condition for a stray, but he had a serious heart murmur and a resulting cough. We assumed he must have an owner, but moved him to foster care where he could be more comfortable while he waited. He quickly went to foster care, but almost just as quickly an owner came forward. He had belonged to the woman's father, who had recently passed away and she was so relieved to find him safe.
Unfortunately, her employment had been affected by COVID-19 and she was unable to provide the little man with the medical care he needed. What a devastating situation for a pet owner to find themselves in: loving their pet, but through no fault of your own, unable to give them the lifesaving care they need.
One of the things our Outreach Department sees all too often is family members getting rid of pets that belonged to parents who have gone into nursing homes or have passed away. Many times, no plans have been made for their parents' companions and they find themselves in limbo when no family member is able to take them in and continue to care for them. Here, we have the opposite situation - a family who not only welcomed, but adored the pet of her late father. We were eager to help and did so by providing the little old dog with a desperately needed dental, updated vaccines, and a prescription and month's supply of heart medication.
South Jersey Regional Animal Shelter has received a grant from the Humane Society of the United States to enable us to continue providing services to the community during the coronavirus outbreak. The outbreak has been particularly difficult for members of our community who were struggling even before the crisis hit; pets mean so much to their families, especially during times of isolation and fear and the grant we received is enabling us to keep people and pets together during this crisis.
We are currently working on planning a large-scale pet food giveaway in which families will be able to drive up and have food placed in their vehicle. We have been reaching out to large local stores for donations of pet food and had mixed results; we are grateful to Target of Millville, Pet Valu of Mays Landing, and Sam's Club in Williamstown for making a donation of pet food to our drive; however, one particularly large superstore's manager was compelled to hang up on me when I called to ask for support. If any families that are fortunate enough to be comfortable would like to support our efforts, please consider making a donation to our Outreach Department or dropping off pet food or supplies and letting us know it's for Outreach.
We will have more information about this event soon, but in the meantime our Pet Pantry remains open. Due to COVID, we are asking that families contact our front office at 856-691-1500 or Outreach@SJRAS.org to set up a time to pick up food. Any families struggling to provide care for their pets during this time are also encouraged to reach out for support.