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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

May 13, 2020

With So Many People at Home, Animals Find New Families

By Lori Draz

Even the most difficult times have their moments of triumph, and this is one of the best – there has been a marked rise in adoptions at the Monmouth County SPCA. For many families, this time spent at home has allowed them to add the new family members they have wanted for so long. Bringing home a new pet, especially a puppy or a kitten, should involve lots of bonding time, and that has been in long supply. The number of adoptions of pets with behavioral and special needs is also up, according to local experts. Many people are also fostering animals at this time as well.

Ross Licitra, executive director of the Monmouth County SPCA and the chief of Humane Law Enforcement, shared the details of this happy development.

“We have been receiving a stream of phone calls every day, and thankfully we are operating with nearly a full staff,” Licitra said. “We have also taken many steps to make sure that the adoptions continue despite social distancing restrictions, and it is working out very well for everyone, especially the animals.”

Those interesting in adopting a pet during the COVID-19 crisis must begin the process online where they can learn about the available animals, print all forms and request an appointment. Then a counselor contacts the potential pet parents by phone to screen his or her personality and lifestyles and to set up an appointment to meet the animal in a private room. These skilled counselors can share lots of background on the animals, including their temperaments and preferences so people can consider several fits.

Because the veterinary clinic has been working so briskly and the MCSPCA staff wants to place these animals into good homes, people can actually meet, fall in love and leave with their pet that day. The shelter’s policy is to spay or neuter all animals before they leave, but for now, they are allowing people to leave with an addendum to return after the crisis to have the animal spayed or neutered. The spay and neutering services, along with medical exams, grooming and shots, microchipping and many other things are all included in the adoption fees. Fees for puppies (under 6 months) are $550, adult dogs are $250, and senior dogs (7 years and older) are $100. Kittens under 6 months are $150, and $75 for each additional kitten. Cats over 6 months are $100 and $50 for each additional, and cats 7 years and older are $50.

The MCSPCA also offers discounts on adoption fees for military veterans under its Pets for Patriots program.

Licitra said special precautions are being taken while screening adoptive parents to make sure they know they are making a commitment for the animal’s life.

Just next door, the Vogel Veterinary Care Center (VVCC) has been running without a hiccup during the crisis. In fact, the clinic is seeing more people taking care of their pets’ vaccinations and other services while they have the time. Pets can be dropped off and picked up curbside.

The adoption success has produced a couple of media stars. One is Che Che, a 9-year-old white toy poodle who arrived on April 11. She was brought to the SPCA by the children of her owner, who had passed from the virus. Che Che had been a one-owner dog all her life, and she couldn’t fit into the homes of the owner’s children or friends. Che Che arrived scared and confused but was given lots of TLC, a warm bubble bath and all necessary medical attention, including complete dental work, all courtesy of the VVCC. Within days, Che Che’s story began drawing media attention, and she appeared on “ABC News” and “Good Morning America,” among other New York and New Jersey news stations. Che Che attracted a long list of people eager to welcome her into their homes, and she is well on her way to living the rest of her life with a loving family.

Another wonderful story was the one about a beautiful German shepard who came to the shelter as a stray. The shelter couldn’t find a microchip, and it kept the dog for 14 days, surprised that no one was claiming this wonderful dog. Just before the staff was going to adopt the dog out, they discovered the microchip, tracing it to a family in Freehold. The entire family had been battling the coronavirus and was too sick to look for the dog. The shelter reunited the dog in his own complimentary carrier, delivering it directly to the home of the joyous parents.

Licitra also was excited to share an incredible ongoing act of generosity. An anonymous donor has created a $200,000 matching donation fund, which will run through Monday, Aug. 31.

This Compassion Counts Matching Donor Campaign allows people to save twice as many lives of vulnerable cats, dogs and other companion animals (not to mention wildlife!) right here in Monmouth County. Any amount donated will be doubled so the MCSPCA can celebrate its 75th anniversary by helping even more animals in the community.

The animal shelter is considered an essential service and is therefore open six days a week (closed Tuesdays and Sundays during the crisis).

To learn more or see photos of adoptable animals, visit MonmouthCountySPCA.org or visit its Facebook page.