Beth Zive had only been with the Animal Welfare Association for three days when she got her first taste of what can often be the harsh reality for some animals and pets in South Jersey and across the world.
The shelter occasionally receives shipments of animals saved from disasters, such as in the Dominican Republic, that will need to undergo medical and behavioral evaluation and treatment before becoming adoptable. Meanwhile, the AWA also accepts surrenders from local pet owners, with a fee, on an as-needed basis due to shelter capacity at that given time.
In early August, however, the shelter became the temporary home for two dogs, believed to be from the South Jersey area, desperately in need of care and love.
As Zive, director of development for the AWA, finished up her third day of work while alongside Executive Director Maya Richmond, the two left the trailer they work out of that sits on the AWA’s grounds to leave for the day. Luckily for two dogs, a nonchalant look to the right would save two lives.
Propped up against the office door that Zive and Richmond use less than the one at other end of the trailer was a medium-sized dog cage, with a tiny, black Chihuahua and protective, terrier-mix inside.
“I was just so taken aback,” said Zive. “I love the mission of the AWA and everything this place stands for, but I hadn’t really been exposed to anything like this before.”
There’s no way to know how long they had been in the cage while the mid-summer sun beat down on them. As the last two at the AWA that evening, had Zive not looked to the right and seen the cage, the worst might have become a reality for the two dogs, from hungry, wild animals to the effects of the thunderstorm that hit the area that night.
At the very least, Zive and Richmond say thankfully they noticed the dogs. A fundraiser was started on the AWA’s Facebook page for surgery, due to dental disease with one of the dogs. After a week’s grace period to allow for their potential owners to claim them, as allowed by law, the AWA sprang to action to medically attend to the dogs, as well treat them behaviorally.
Shelter Services Manager Nanci Urban watched over the treatment and care of the dogs, named Pride and Soul, during their time at the AWA, as they overcame malnourishment, diseases and behavior issues. In time, it became apparent that they should be adopted together.
Fortunately for Pride and Soul, who now have new names, the story ends for them after having been adopted together at the end of August. Moving forward, however, the AWA and other local animal shelters would like to remind residents that abandoning pets is not a safe way to drop off an animal, and that the shelter’s surrender procedure should be followed. This allows for the shelter to best understand that animal’s well-being moving forward, to allow for proper care during its stay at a shelter, as well as most easily connect the pet with a potential owner in the future.
“I’m certain that the people that did this felt they had no other options. I don’t think they had a ill intent in doing it, other than trying to put them in a place that they would receive care,” said Urban. “But did they go about it the right way? No. We go about trying to rehome animals and taking some in, but we’re a shelter and we want to care for animals.”
For surrender fees, check with local shelters’ websites.