Other than being cute, Scout, Duchess, and Hunter never committed any crimes – but they ended up on “doggie death row” at an out-of-state animal shelter simply due to lack of space. They were scheduled to be euthanized, until the Secaucus Animal Shelter saved them.
The three German short hair pointers are approximately 10 weeks old and were part of a litter of five puppies that were rescued by the shelter last week as part of a new outreach program. Two of the five dogs were adopted shortly after their arrival in town.
“I don’t know how you couldn’t not want to take them,” said Mayor Michael Gonnelli during last week’s council meeting, where the puppies made an appearance.
Filling empty cages
Councilwoman Susan Pirro, who is the council’s animal shelter liaison, said she had wanted to rescue dogs, especially puppies, for some time. The idea was set in motion once Dr. Holly Hansen was hired in Feb. to serve as the manager for the Secaucus Animal Shelter, which is a no-kill shelter.
“Holly noticed the shelter only had one dog,” said Pirro.
While the shelter has plenty of cats, it can accommodate up to 10 dogs but often has empty cages. So the shelter launched the outreach program to save dogs from death row across the country.
Approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats), according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
From all parts of the country
“She is looking everywhere. Holly knows the schedule of euthanization,” said Gonnelli after the council meeting. The puppies were obtained from a rescue group in Virginia that gets the dogs from a kill shelter and then transferred them to South Jersey before their arrival in Secaucus.
The ASPCA reports that five out of 10 dogs in shelters and seven out of 10 cats in shelters are destroyed simply because there is no one to adopt them.
Dogs and puppies end up on death row at shelters that set a time limit on how long they can keep a dog due to space constraints.
“Some shelters keep them for a certain amount of days and if they don’t move they are done,” said Pirro.
Pirro said that Dr. Hansen did check local shelters such as the Liberty Humane Society in Jersey City, which is often inundated with dogs – especially pit bull mixes – and the Bergen County Animal Shelter to identify whether there were any adoptable puppies available. Dr. Hansen also volunteers at the Jersey City shelter.
Pirro said that the shelter has had three or four pit bulls in the past and is open to adopting pit bulls “if they are young enough [and] if they are sociable [and] if Dr. Hansen feels they are adoptable.”
“These dogs are all so sweet.” – Susan Pirro
“These dogs are all so sweet,” said Pirro. “Right away we had two adopted out.”
A total of 10 dogs have been rescued, 5 adults and 5 puppies. Five have been adopted out and two adults and three puppies are still available for adoption.
“A wonderful woman from Hoboken fell in love with Tiny,” said Pirro, regarding a dog that was immediately adopted out after being rescued. Pirro said that a 4- or 5-year-old hound/beagle mix named Buford was adopted by a family in town and another dog named Rufus was adopted by a family with three sons from Weehawken.
The shelter screens potential owners by conducting reference checks and any pet owner history to ensure that the animals will go into a loving home.
The shelter charges an $85 fee to adopt a dog and a $35 fee to adopt a cat. Pirro said that the dogs that were rescued did not cost the animal shelter any additional fees other than the minimal cost to purchase food and toys.
The shelter is paid for out of the town’s budget to cover salaries and maintenance. Last year, volunteers raised over $40,000 to help cover costs, according to the mayor.
“We would like to continue slowly what we are doing now,” said Pirro in regard to the future of the outreach program. She said that they hope to continue to get a few animals at a time and find them homes. She said she wished the shelter could do more, but feels good about saving at least a few lives at a time.
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