By Dawn M Chiossi
There’s nothing as wonderful as the sweet face of a dog or a cat. Every animal lover instinctively knows the delights that owning a pet can bring, and they occupy a space in people’s hearts that is special: They are friends, family. A pet can be their owner’s sounding boards, their companions, or even good listeners. They are there when their owners get up in the morning–even before coffee–and when they walk in the door after an exhausting day.
Pets are always welcoming and glad to see you. They allow us to be silly, or indulgent. No matter what, they give us unconditional love. These furry friends quickly become an integral part of the family. People grow up with them, families and single people alike dote and depend on them. Every animal lover out there knows without a doubt, there is nothing so comforting as a purring cat or a tail-wagging, face-licking dog.
In the United States alone, an impressive 85% of families own a pet of some kind. Dogs and cats are always popular, but for many having a pet even expands to fish and other animals. Pets are a responsibility that most people embrace with enthusiastic arms. But all too often, there are animals out there who are suffering: unwanted, neglected or abused.
Unfortunately, animal shelters are filled with them, so there is something extra special about getting a pet from a shelter. It is a chance to rescue these helpless animals who cannot help themselves. It is an opportunity to share your love and caring, giving them a second chance at a happy home. These rescue pets are starved for love, and are just waiting for their human guardians to adopt them, to be considered someone’s fur baby.
Over at East Hanover’s Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter they are showing the love to these furry friends, making them part of their family until they can become yours. At this moment, they have approximately 30 dogs and 50 to 70 cats housed at the shelter and with an impressive and consistent 98% successful adoption rate, Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter has reason to be thrilled.
“We have approximately 1,000 to 1,100 adoptions per year,” Mount Pleasant Outreach Coordinator, Christine Conte, prides.
Adoption fees are $275 for dogs, $325 for puppies, $125 for adult cats and $150 for kittens.
Created in 1977, and located at 194 Route 10 West in East Hanover, the Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter is a nonprofit 501c3 animal welfare organization. They are dedicated to having a community where there are no abused, abandoned neglected, or homeless animals out there. For these devoted volunteers, this is not just a dream, it is a mission.
This no-kill shelter is 100% funded by donations, where no animal is ever euthanized. These adoptable dogs and cats not only come from homes, they also come from other overcrowded shelters, and desperate situations. These dogs and cats have endured so many horrors: Sometimes they are dirty, neglected, stressed, sometimes they have endured any number of desperate situations, but all of these creatures have one thing in common: All are in need of love and attention. Until they find a forever home, Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter takes them in, treating them like part of their family. For the 15 to 20 employees, and large number of volunteers of this worthwhile organization, working at the animal shelter it isn’t just a job, it’s a mission of love. That mission has several components: to provide exceptional care for homeless animals, to promote spaying/neutering/microchipping and humane education, and to place homeless cats and dogs in permanent and loving homes.
“We are a little different than other shelters,” Conte explains. “We don’t do intakes, only when we have the space.” That means that largely, their focus lies in rescuing.
Known as a friend in the shelter community, the Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter offers assistance to overcrowded facilities with adoptable animals. With their Shelter Partnering Program, they also actively participate in a variety of animal rescue initiatives. Approximately a staggering 90% of all dogs and cats at Mt. Pleasant are rescued from facilities both in New Jersey and other states that would have been forced to euthanize these animals due to overcrowding.
“We pull animals from other states and other kill shelters,” Conte tells. “From Virginia, Florida, all over.” As such, Mt. Pleasant then diligently works to safely transport the animals to their shelter, for necessary evaluation, veterinary care, spay or neutering, microchipping, and placed for adoption.
Striving to heal not just the physical body of these creatures, employees of the animal shelter focus on the whole animal as well: body, spirit and soul– making sure that the adoptee is a well-rounded match for their human parents. Programs such as their behavior modification programs, kennel enrichment programs, and two free roaming catteries, they help these dogs and cats not only survive, but flourish.
The behavior modification program prescreens all dogs through temperament testing, adding insight to a dog’s personality and needs. Keeping the results in mind, the program then greatly aids the staff match pets with potential adopters.
In addition, Mt. Pleasant Animal shelter creates a safe and enjoyable environment for these furry friends alike. Their Kennel Enrichment Programs are great for dogs, stimulating them emotionally, as well as physically and emotionally. Feline friends can enjoy the two free roaming catteries: A cattery gives them the opportunity to socialize with each other, while enjoying the attention from prospective adopters.
From offering behavioral advice to the general public, to much more, Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter offers a number of Community Outreach programs for the community as well.
They are particularly excited regarding their microchipping where all animals are microchipped at Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter. Something invaluable if the pet is lost or, God forbid, stolen. Simply put, a microchip is a location device. Implanted between the animal’s shoulder blades, it is approximately the size of a grain of rice and it is quick, easy and convenient. Much safer than a collar or tags that can fall off when the pet is outside, microchipping gives the pet owner added security and confidence, should they need it. If a pet gets loose, if microchipped, they can just be identified by a scanner and returned back to their owners. “This can save an animal’s life,” officials state.
Relatively inexpensive at $35.00, everyone can investigate this wonderful lifesaving service. Please contact the Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter at 973-386-0590 to make an appointment today. Rest assured, all proceeds will go to benefit homeless dogs and cats.
Realizing that there are a myriad of ways to help these companion animals, Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter does so much for fundraising. Don’t miss the Sixth Annual Tricky Tray held on April 12th at Knoll Country Club West in Boonton Township. Tickets will be $50.00. Included in the price will be approximately 300 baskets featuring some amazing surprises, a gourmet buffet, ice cream sundae bar, a sheet of tickets and service for parking. This event is always popular, so people are encouraged to get their tickets early. Conte tells that last year approximately 500 people attended. Tickets can be purchased at the shelter during adoption hours or online.
Much more than just an animal shelter, Mount Pleasant is a team in lifesaving. There are many wonderful dogs and cats out there, all with their own personalities, and for Conte, each has something unique to offer a loving pet parent. Take Amber for instance, an Anatolian Shepherd Mix is 10 years old. “He’s very sweet, very loving, and yet somehow overlooked,” Conte says. She mentions Yetti, another Shepard Mix who is playfully “goofy,” and a cat they aptly named Mrs. Claws, found at Christmastime, who had given birth (her kittens have all been adopted) and has been in the shelter ever since. “Any or every one of these animals would make a good family member to any home”, Conte remarks.
There are many ways to contribute. Mount Pleasant offers amazing support and rescue programs. With the Road to Happiness Program, they routinely pull dogs and puppies at risk from euthanasia from other overcrowded shelters outside of New Jersey. With the approximate cost of $60.00, they are always searching for sponsors to help save lives. Included in the price will be fees associated with transport.
“We are always looking for foster families to foster puppies and kittens.” Conte tells.
The way it works it that people foster the animal for two weeks (don’t worry, Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter will supply everything needed), and then the animal will be given back after the time is up. “This is a great way for any animal lover to get their feet wet into the world of pet ownership without making a permanent commitment,” Conte says. She herself has been a foster for three cats from the animal shelter. She even has one that she considers a foster-fail. (something they secretly hope for everyone who enters the shelter) “I ended up adopting one feisty kitten,” Conte enthuses. “I just fell in love with her. She gets along with my other cats and has even bonded with my dog. She’s special.”
“I love working here, we all do. People would think that Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter is a sad place to come visit but it’s not. Our cats and dogs, kittens and puppies are well cared for and well loved, just waiting for their forever home. The most special moments for all of us are seeing a dog or cat who has been with us a long time finally gets adopted and goes home with their forever family. We get so excited seeing that bond,” she shares.
Hours for the Mount Pleasant Animal Shelter will be Monday, Wednesday from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday from 12:00 to 7:00 p.m., Friday from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. They are closed all major holidays. For further information or details, please call 973-386-0590 or visit www.njshelter.org/