Nobody at the Ocean County Animal Facilities knew what to expect when the pandemic hit back in March, but despite some hairy times our furry friends continue to find new homes. For many people, the pandemic turned out to be the perfect time to bring a new cat or dog into the family. The reasons just beg the question – why adopt during a historic crisis?
“We’ve been extremely pleased with the way things have turned out so far in regards to adoptions and surrenders,” explains Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department Health Coordinator/Health Officer. “The two Ocean County Animal Facilities (OCAF) have had people adopt for a variety of reasons but the biggest certainly has to do with so many being home and having the free time to spend bonding, training, and acclimating the pet to their new home. For a shelter cat or dog, it just doesn’t get any better than that.”
“I can’t tell you how many people have also adopted because they just felt lonely and wanted some companionship and that unconditional love animals provide no matter what the situation,” added Ocean County Freeholder Gerry P. Little, liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health. “Things have been tough for a lot of people and providing a loving home and second chance to a shelter pet can be so rewarding and uplifting.”
Anyone who has a pet knows that they really can reduce the stress and strain on people’s mental health. They bring so much love and joy. Shelter animals make great pets. The Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) has two animal facilities, located in Jackson and Manahawkin, and has found homes for close to 400 cats and dogs from March to August. Not record numbers, but slightly higher than typical for that time period compared with the number of pets impounded – and much more than ever anticipated.
The number of pets impounded has been lower than typical for this time of year and is certainly related to the pandemic. 640 more pets were impounded last year when compared to the same time this year. However, most surprising has been the low number of pet surrenders.
“One of the reasons we keep hearing has to do with people wanting to hold on to their pets because they felt they were losing so much due to the pandemic and they just didn’t want to give up anymore – especially their beloved cat or dog,” said Brian Lippai, OCHD Public Information Officer. “In addition, the pandemic has provided more opportunities for people to get assistance in keeping their pets. Several rescue groups and organizations anticipated the pandemic creating this issue and were prepared to help.”
Another outcome of the pandemic is the animal facility’s adoption process. Both shelters have been providing adoptions by appointment only and it’s been a smooth transition according to shelter staff.
“We fill up pretty quickly with appointments, especially on the weekends,” said, Mary Alano, OCSAF Manager. “The OCHD website pet page and our pet finder sites have been crucial for maintaining our adoption numbers. This allows the public to virtually meet our pets, and if they see a pet they like we can schedule an appointment for them to come in and meet the pet in person.”
“The public has adjusted to the new process as well,” according to Trish McCallum, OCAF Manager. “We have actually found that most people seem to value an appointment more than just walking in to see the pets. We know that anyone who is going to take the time in making an appointment is seriously considering adopting and have done their homework. We don’t encourage impulse adoptions.”
The animal facilities also host free rabies clinics on alternating Wednesdays for Ocean County residents. To reserve a spot on the rabies clinic schedule you must make an appointment for your pet by calling the shelter. No walk-ins permitted.
Residents can find our pets at www.ochd.org, the OCHD Facebook page, and at Petfinder.com.
The Northern Ocean County Animal Facility is located at 615 Freemont Avenue in Jackson. Call 732-657-8086 for an appointment. The Southern Ocean County Animal Facility is on 360 Haywood Road in Manahawkin. For more information call 609-978-0127.