Editor’s Note: For four weeks, The Sun has looked into the state of homeless pets in South Jersey and what is being done to find homes — and futures — for thousands of animals. This article is one of three featured in the final week of this series.
By KRISTEN DOWD and BRIGIT BAUMA
“Pet ownership is a lifetime commitment,” Vicki Rowland said. “Pets are our children.”
Rowland, the executive director of the Camden County Animal Shelter, can’t stress enough the importance of understanding the responsibility that comes along with pet ownership.
“Clearly (the CCAS) is offering a service to those who, at the end of the day, there’s absolutely no hope for that person keeping their pet. That’s what we’re here for,” Rowland said. “But then there’s always the other side of that coin. They may adopt a cute puppy, but then it grows up and it’s too much. They don’t think it through.”
Thinking through an adoption is just one way local shelters and homeless pet advocates say the problem of homeless pets can be helped. Find out more suggestions below.
Ways to reduce the number of homeless animals
- Consider all responsibilities of pet ownership before adopting your pet. Remember, as Rowland said, that pet ownership is a lifetime commitment for that animal.
- Have a problem pet? Don’t give up. Talk to your vet and invest in a trainer if pet behavior is becoming an issue.
- Microchip your pet and keep the information up-to-date. Have your pet wear an ID tag. “I think that is good for people to know,” Barbara Agnew, adoptive parent to four dogs, said. “Get your dog microchipped and make sure it has a tag on it.”
- If you see a homeless pet, report it. Don’t assume someone else already did.
- Spay and neuter your pet. “Neutering or spaying pets is a real way to prevent more homeless pets being out in the world,” Eric Arpert, Burlington County public information officer, said.
- If you absolutely cannot keep your pet, never abandon it. Surrender your pet to a reputable shelter or rescue that is equipped to find the animal the best placement.