County animal shelters reaching capacity limits across South Jersey

Burlington, Camden offer reduced or waived adoption fees.

(Photo credit: Phil Skinner/Humane Society of the United States)

For animal shelters across South Jersey, summer often brings a massive influx of pets to county shelters, creating a shortage in available supplies, kennels and other resources to adequately care for new and current animals. 

Both Burlington and Camden counties’ animal shelters have reached maximum capacity for their respective capabilities and are actively seeking both adopters and prospective foster families.

Homeward Bound Pet Adoption Center, which serves as Camden County’s shelter, recently announced a red  alert in its current situation, with kennels “critically full” and  the shelter in need of assistance from the community. Executive Director Jill Rawlins said summer may have been worse than usual, in particular the last few weeks.

“This has been a pretty brutal summer in general, but now the past couple of weeks  we’ve had an even bigger boom, with dogs specifically, at our shelter,” she said. “We haven’t seen our surrender numbers go up really. It’s mostly just strays from what we’ve noticed.”

According to Rawlins, the shelter currently has about 110 dogs and 300 cats, with an additional 50 dogs and 400 cats currently in area foster homes. The total is nearly 1,000 animals, including rabbits, guinea pigs and other small creatures. She said the need has stretched the shelter’s resources thin, thus the call for adopters and foster families.

“Donors provide for 90 percent, if not more, of our food for the animals, so we need to make sure we have enough in general, and we have to increase staffing when we reach these levels, as well to make sure we’re taking care of everything that needs to get done every day,” Rawlins said.

During its Clear the Shelters event, extended through Sept. 18, Homeward Bound Pet Adoption Center has waived adoption fees for all long-term resident dogs; all other dog adoption fees are $25. Anyone who wants to foster should reach out to the shelter at (856) 401-1300, if they are within about 30 minutes of its location.

Now at capacity, the Burlington County Animal Shelter is currently hosting a similar promotion, sponsored by the Friends of the Burlington County Animal Shelter, where adult pits and pit mixes are $25 and the adoption fee for all adult cats are waived through the end of September. 

The shelter has already taken in more than 2,000 animals in 2021, with just over half adopted or placed with foster families or rescue groups. A crucial need still exists for residents to help reduce the number of animals there.

“There’s few better feelings than the love and affection of a loyal, four-legged family member, and our shelter is full of potential pets who are waiting to find a new home,” said Commissioner Deputy Director Dan O’Connell, the committee’s liaison to the shelter.

“We’re encouraging anyone who is thinking about adopting or fostering to contact the shelter and arrange for a visit.”

To foster with the county, call (609) 265-5073 and request an application and phone interview.