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Val Miller, clinic manager at the Homeward Bound Animal Shelter, greets Juno, who is available for adoption. (Photo: Phaedra Trethan)
GLOUCESTER TWP. – The dogs started barking as soon as Val Miller opened the door to the kennel in the Homeward Bound Animal Shelter.
There was Pinocchio, the brown pit bull mix with a big smile, one of the lucky ones with an “I’m being adopted!” Sign outside his enclosure. Rocky, a black and white pit bull, stood on his hind legs looking for a little love. Juno, a gray pittie, went straight to Miller, a veterinarian and clinic manager at the shelter, for a treat. And cute Gus Gus, who was found with his siblings on the edge of a freeway in South Jersey, hit by a car and with a broken jaw, wagged his tail and waited for an eternal friend to come over and take him home.
As the COVID-19 pandemic subsides, the world re-opens, and vaccinated people venture back into work, school, and play, people are still about as likely to adopt pets as they were when they were all at home stuck, said Miller and general manager Jill Rawlins.
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“We’re just as busy as we’ve been through the pandemic,” Rawlins said on Monday.
But even with sustained adoptions, the shelter is still nearing capacity for cats and kittens, as is the case almost every year when the weather warms up – “kitten season” as it is called by animal rights activists when cats use it are not neutered tend to reproduce.
Cats, Miller explained, can have as many as 5 to 7 kittens per litter and can produce two and sometimes three litters a year. Stray cats are particularly a problem in urbanized areas like Camden and Gloucester City, where there are more places to colonize and more prey like mice and rats to feed.
“The city of Camden is inundated with cats,” said Rawlins, who estimated that there are “probably thousands” of cats there.
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On Saturday, the shelter will host its first off-site spay / neuter event at Linden Street Child Care Center in Camden. Although all available dates for this event have been booked, Rawlins said the Blackwood facility’s clinic provides low-cost spay / neuter services, vaccines, and other pet health services.
Gumby, one of the cats available at the Homeward Bound Animal Shelter, is enjoying some time with a volunteer. (Photo: Phaedra Trethan)
Approximately $ 5,000 in pharmaceutical and medical supplies were donated for Saturday’s event by Merck and Midwest Medical Supply, and two veterinarians are volunteering their time and skills. It takes about 20-30 minutes for an experienced veterinarian to spay and neuter a female cat (it’s abdominal surgery) and a little less time to spay or neuter a male cat. Any cat – more than 50 of them – will be “up and awake” within an hour or so, Miller explained, with cats recovering faster the younger and healthier they are; Owners can leave their animals in the morning and pick them up later in the day.
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The shelter is not for profit and acts as a seller for Camden County, which is located near several county offices in the Lakeland section of Blackwood in Gloucester Township. In addition to its clinic, the shelter has an animal feed pantry every Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., where anyone can pull up and get supplies – a way to help people who are financially struggling to keep their pets instead of having to give them away .
Gus Gus, who is adoptable at the Homeward Bound Animal Shelter, needs some love after he and his siblings were abandoned on the edge of a freeway and hit by a car. (Photo: Phaedra Trethan)
Homeward Bound vets and volunteers are also conducting “TNR” (Trap, Neuter, Release) in Camden County, helping to reduce the number of kittens born to strays and cats that are not all wild, but in the wild Live outdoors and often be fed by well-fed cats. what does people mean. Some of these cats are also “barn rescues”: cats taken to rural areas and farms to keep bugs at bay while they live in fields and barns, Rawlins said.
With around 78 dogs and around 300 cats, the shelter is starting to reach capacity (125 dogs and 400 cats), so Miller and Rawlins hope their adoptions will continue even when life returns to normal.
Arthur is a 2 year old male cat who is about to be adopted at the Homeward Bound Animal Shelter. (Photo: Phaedra Trethan)
“We urgently need foster children,” said Rawlins. Many dogs are “overnight foster homes” who go home with foster families for the night to socialize and exercise; However, cats are largely caged and this puts a strain on their emotional health and often on their physical health as well. Living in foster homes helps them get used to living with people, making them easier to adopt and less likely to be brought back.
The animal shelter also hosts a job fair on Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at which kennel keepers, adoption counselors and data entry specialists are employed.
Homeward Bound Animal Shelter is located at 125 County House Road, Blackwood. For more information, or to donate or volunteer, visit https://homewardboundnj.org/ or call 856-401-1300.
Phaedra Trethan has been a reporter and editor in South Jersey since 2007 and has covered Camden and the surrounding area since 2015, focusing on quality of life and social justice issues for the Courier-Post, Burlington County Times and the Vineland Daily Journal. She has been based in South Jersey since 1971. Reach out to them with feedback, news tips, or questions at email@example.com, on Twitter @By_Phaedra, or by calling 856.486-2417.
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