This year, the shelter has over 30 pets hanging around in hopes that someone will take them away to a new home for the holidays.
With a majority of the animals falling into the feline persuasion, there is always a lot of attention from the public on what is being done both for and against the wild population of animals that reside in most communities. Feral cats in the sprawling Meadowlands can be analogous to droves of wild dogs throughout Mexico.
However, Secaucus is lucky to be a town that provides more than the average pueblo. In fact, the shelter goes above and beyond most communities' standards for housing, treating and adopting potential pets.
In the original building that was first animal shelter, there now exists a quarantine room for new and unknown animals awaiting a visit to the vet. Stockpiled inside are bags of feed used by the shelter crew to feed ducks breeding in the nearby wetlands. Happy with their neighbors, the ducks refuse to fly south for the winter and keep close to home even in the snowy months.
Outside of the main building lies a large, backyard-type shed that has been converted into a safe haven for the wild cats that try to survive the harsh winters. The shed is equipped with heat lamps, carpeted ramps and even an old sitting chair like the one they may have once had in their previous home.
The entire shed was donated to the shelter by one of Secaucus' concerned, cat-loving residents. Unfortunately, the shelter cannot allow these feral cats to reside within the actual indoor shelter largely because they are not conducive nor receptive to domestication, shelter staffers say. The shelter treats these cats at the expense of the shelter by taking them to local veterinarians to be neutered. This, in turn, helps control the wild population of cats. In some cases, a wild cat can be introduced into the adoption-eligible population.
If a wild cat is found to be already be impregnated, the litter of kittens will be taken into the shelter, given proper medical treatments, and be kept at the shelter for adoption.
"Younger animals are much easier to deal with, train, and domesticate," said Nancy Minervini, one of three animal control officers who work at the shelter.
With only three officers at the station and a small operating budget, the shelter is able to maintain consistent hours of operation, from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. every day of the week, and have at least one of the three officers on call 24 hours a day.
"You would be surprised at the volume of calls we receive for animal control issues," said Minervini. "Some even tend toward the extreme side."
The shelter receives calls from around the town, usually asking them to pick up neighborhood felines who residents feel should be neutered to help control the population.
"After we trap the cats, we treat them and then re-release them," said Minervini. "Sometimes the residents even request that we bring the cats back to where we caught them so that they can continue to feed or care for the outdoor cats."
In some cases, however, the felines aren't always welcome. In such instances, the re-releasing of animals occurs near the shelter at 525 Meadowlands Parkway. This way the cats and other animals can make use of the outdoor shelters offered to wild animals and can benefit from daily feedings that kind-hearted citizens sometimes bestow on them.
Donations and volunteers
This year the shelter received approximately $12,000 in donations and is always looking for any type of help including blankets, pet food, cat litter and cleaning products.
Volunteers are also always welcome, especially on weekends, and the shelter asks that volunteers be of at least 18 years of age. And, of course, anyone who can manage the long-term care of a pet can support the shelter by adopting one of the animals it is currently caring for.
Anyone interested in adopting a kitten, dog, rabbit, or other animal can contact the manager of the Secaucus Animal Shelter at (201) 330-2080. Fees for adoptions are low and don't even cover all the costs the shelter takes on that involve care and treatment of the animals. Cat adoption fees are $30 and dogs are $65.
The shelter reminds residents of the danger of dropping animals off unattended at the shelter and asks that they call and get a consultation first.
Additionally, the Huber Street School is running their annual food drive for the dogs and cats of the Secaucus Animal Shelter. Anyone interested in donating money, food, or services through the school can contact the school at (201) 974-2053.