An estimate of six to eight million cats and dogs are rescued by animal shelters in the U.S. each year, according to The Humane Society of the United States. Half of those animals will be adopted and about 2.7 million will end up euthanized.
One of the reasons for euthanasia is the over population at the animal shelters. But before they have to decide to put the pets down, the animals shelters and some non-profit organizations work to find the pets a new home.
SAVE and American Rescue Dog are two of those organizations. They are both located in Mercer County.
SAVE, a non-profit independent animal shelter in Princeton, can accommodate about 75 pets at a time and helps an average of 400 animals each year.
When the catastrophe Hurricane Sandy happened in October, 2012, many animals ended up on the streets due to their owners losing their houses and not being able to take care of the animals.
“If it weren’t for SAVE, a lot of the animals would just be put down,” said executive director of SAVE, Piper Burrows.
“Unfortunately, after Hurricane Sandy we had to turn away. We helped the shelters and homes that were destroyed by the storm, but we could not take in any animals due to limited space.”
In 2011, Professor in Psychology, Dr. Heather Jennings and her husband, founded the non-profit organization American Rescue Dog which only rescues dogs.
“We began the organization by rescuing, rehoming, and rehabilitating dogs of all breeds,” Dr. Jennings told the VOICE.
Both SAVE and American Rescue Dog try to find the right people interested in adopting the rescued animals.
“We actually adopt to a lot of senior citizens” Jennings explains with a huge smile. “Apparently other shelters in our area [Orange County] exclude the older population which is above 55 and 60. They’re retired and home alone and a just looking for companionship.”
Jennings is also enthusiastic about the advantages to adopting a puppy, rather than buying one from a puppy store.
“There are so many healthy dogs who can’t find a family” Jennings says. “When adopting you’re literally saving a life, rather when you go to a store and support puppy mills by buying a puppy.”
The work of organizations such as SAVE and American Rescue Dog is not only defined by taking the animals out of the street, but they also help with problems such as animal hoarding.
“Animal hoarding is more common than you think” said Burrows.
“Once there was a lady with holding a lot of puppies in her basement, when her house caught on fire. Luckily we were able to get 24 of those puppies out,” Burrows said.
Another component of their jobs is to train the animals while in the shelter. Some of the animals, because of the conditions they have lived before they were rescued, present some behavior issues.
“One of our dogs, named George, is a six year old coonhound who used to live in a six by six enclosure for six years. He was used for hunting and then afterwards let back into his cage,” said Dr. Jennings.
“We’ve been trying to work with him for a few months to teach him how to be a dog, but he is a hunting dog, and New Jersey is not the right place for him since there’s no hunting families here, so we’re going to ship him down to Virginia,” Dr. Jennings said.
As Dr. Jennings finishes the interview with the VOICE she says, “Don’t shop. Adopt.”