County Freeholders announce plan to expand animal shelter

The Camden County Freeholder Board has approved a two-year plan to reconfigure and expand the Camden County Animal Shelter in Gloucester Township.

“Camden County is a very animal friendly place. According to the last census, as many as 70 percent of Camden County households include a dog or a cat,” said Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez liaison to the Camden County Animal Shelter. “The Camden County Freeholder Board has made a commitment to treat homeless animals in a humane manner because we believe it is the right thing to do.”

The Freeholder Board has approved an investment of $3.5 million over the next two years. This year’s budget includes $2 million for the renovation and expansion of the animal shelter, which is already underway. An additional $1.5 million is projected for the next year’s budget for the construction of a new adoption center expected to open in 2014.

“The improvements to the animal shelter will expand the capacity for dogs by 25 percent with the addition of a fourth dog run,” said Rodriguez. “There will be more room for cats as well by maximizing space within the existing footprint of the building.”

Next year, the board plans to open a new Animal Adoption Center in a high-visibility location to provide easier access for prospective adopting families. The center will have a “retail feel” with glass-walled acquaintance rooms instead of a traditional shelter setting with animals in cages, to encourage shorter shelter stays for adoptable stray animals.

“The Animal Adoption Center will also provide educational programming on the humane treatment of animals for school children and adults,” Rodriguez said. “They will teach pet-owners of the importance of licensing and micro-chipping their pets.”

The Freeholder Board has taken a holistic approach to animal management that includes the facilitation of the Camden County Animal Alliance, a network of animal shelters located within the county. They advocate for the adoption of a “regional” standard municipal ordinance for animal management that embraces trap/neuter/release, a humane effort to stabilize the feral cat population. This will eventually lead to the decrease in stray cats, along with lower municipal animal control costs and intake at shelters.

“The animal alliance has received national attention for developing a comprehensive approach to restructure animal control on a county-wide level. This is the first time municipalities, the animal welfare community and the county have all come together to formulate a proactive approach to the problem of feral, abandoned and orphaned animals,” she said. “The county will continue to provide its guidance and support to this initiative, and will assist in circulating information to municipalities and pet owners on how we all can back this effort.”

The Camden County Animal Shelter is located at 125 County House Road in Blackwood.