A committed group of animal lovers has come together to raise the visibility of the Secaucus Animal Shelter, a municipal facility that many residents – group leaders say – don’t even know exists.
“It’s in a location that’s out of the way, so you don’t really see it when you’re driving by,” said Catherine Yang, a member of the Secaucus Citizens Animal Care Committee. “Now at least they have a sign. I remember when they didn’t even have that.”
Yang, who has volunteered at the shelter for years, and other members of the group hope to accomplish two goals: First, they want to raise they want to raise the shelter’s visibility. Second, they hope to attract a new crop of volunteers who can help “socialize” the neglected and abandoned dogs and cats so they will do better in new homes.
“We’re really trying to improve services for all the animals, all across town.” – Catherine Yang
Currently, the shelter has one part-time employee and two full-time employees who take care of dozens of animals that cycle through the shelter each year. Throughout the recession, the shelter has had to take care of an increasing number of animals as pet abandonment has become more common. In addition to abandoned pets that have been dumped at the shelter and on the streets, Secaucus has also experienced an explosion in the number of feral cats roaming the streets.
To address this problem, the Animal Care Committee has also started a Trap, Neuter, and Release – known as TNR – Program.
“What we do is we trap the cats. They are then spayed or neutered. Then we release them back to the area where they were trapped,” said committee member Larry Dicken. Although he admits that TNR programs are sometimes considered controversial, he said, “they work. They are a proven way to reduce the feral cat population.”
Dr. John Hatch, a vet who runs the Secaucus Animal Hospital on Paterson Plank Road, is an advisor to the committee and offers the neutering/spaying service free of charge.
In the coming months, the group will further raise the shelter’s visibility by attending community events in Secaucus and elsewhere around Hudson County.
On Saturday, April 24, committee members will participate in an Earth Day celebration to be held at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, in order to attract potential “adoptive parents” for shelter animals.
The group will also have a table set up at the upcoming Memorial Day Parade, scheduled for May 22.
“We’ll also be planning fundraisers for the shelter,” Dicken said. “As you can imagine, the shelter goes through a lot of supplies. They need things like food [and cat litter]. But they also need toys since they tend to get chewed up and destroyed periodically. It would be nice to have some of those large cushions for the animals to sleep on, so they aren’t always just lying on the concrete floor. So we’d like for the shelter to have a little money for them to get those types of things.”
Interested residents can, he said, can either donate supplies directly to the shelter, or they can make a monetary donation.
The committee has already been successful in getting some contributions from PetSMART. And they plan to approach Hartz, headquartered in Secaucus, as well. Hartz actually put up much of the initial funding to renovate the building that the shelter now calls home.
New dog run coming
While the Secaucus Animal Shelter is the committee’s chief concern, “we’re really trying to improve services for all the animals, all across town,” Yang said.
To that end, the committee has met with Mayor Michael Gonnelli to help get a new dog run created, a dream that will soon become a reality.
“I met with [Hudson County Executive Tom] DeGise,” Gonnelli said. “The county wants to add some things over at Laurel Hill Park. And he asked me what we would be interested in. I told him residents here would like to see a dog park over there. So that is going to happen.”
In addition to the dog run, several basketball and tennis courts will be added to the park as well.
Anyone interested in volunteering at the animal shelter should call Catherine Yang at (201) 693-5188. The shelter, located at 525 Meadowlands Parkway, can be reached at 201-348-3213.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.