NJ shelter needs the public’s help as pet adoptions are down
EATONTOWN — It’s no secret and no surprise that animal shelters across the county have been seeing a decrease in pet adoptions.
While it's hard to pinpoint the exact reasons for dips in adoptions, the cost of everything has quadrupled over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation, said Ross Licitra, executive director of the Monmouth County SPCA in Eatontown.
People have become conscious of their money spending. He said owning a pet is definitely costly between food, treats, toys, veterinary care, and everything else that comes with pet ownership.
In the thick of the pandemic, pet adoptions were high, Licitra said. People were home from school and work and were able to enjoy having a new furry friend in the house.
But once the pandemic was over, he said he saw an uptick in returns back to the shelter. Once people resumed their normal lives, many saw how much work it was to care for a dog or a cat, and therefore shelter returns were made.
According to research from The Humane Society of the United States, nationally across the board, pet adoptions are down, especially dog adoptions which Licitra finds concerning.
“With dogs, being in a shelter is not a good environment for them. Even though we have a very beautiful shelter, it’s very clean and they’re very, very well taken care of, there’s nothing like being in a loving home,” Licitra said.
The shelter is trying many different alternatives to speed up adoptions to get the animals, especially canines out of the door. He said the cat adoptions have been pretty good but the dog adoptions have been slower than normal.
For every dog or cat that goes out the door to a loving home, there's another animal ready to take its spot at the shelter, he added.
Licitra said the MCSPCA is doing more outreach and making more public appeals to get these animals adopted.
Oftentimes, the public is unaware of what a shelter needs or what their current status might be. The shelter recently did an appeal when it came to the cats, which worked.
He said now the shelter is doing a similar appeal for the dogs.
Sometimes they’ll swap with another shelter. So, if there is a dog that’s been at the MCSPCA for a long time, they’ll swap that dog out with one who has been at another shelter for a long period.
Licitra said sometimes that spurs new looks. People often troll the website looking for a certain dog breed. So, if a new dog pops up, that will sometimes get an interested person in their doors.
While adoptions can be costly and let’s face it, a long-time commitment, some people are not in the position, whether financially or something else to adopt a pet.
So, why not consider fostering a dog or a cat?
“Once they’re in a foster home, then they get exposed to more people who know the fosters. That has proven to be very successful, and that’s a great commitment, but a short-term commitment for the foster,” Licitra said.
Fostering a dog or a cat can be short, whether it’s one month, two months, or several months. It’s a great respite for the dog to get out of the shelter environment. Plus, it calms them down.
“Sometimes when you walk our floors, some of the dogs are jumping, barking, or spinning around in circles. But when you get them out of the shelter and get them into a home, they act completely different,” Licitra said.
The MCSPCA is ramping up its full-scale foster program. It’s for both dogs and cats and anyone who is interested in fostering an animal can inquire on the website.
He said the best part is when someone becomes a foster parent for a short period, to give the animal back, but then falls in love with the dog or cat so much, they decide to adopt and keep it for themselves.
Licitra playfully calls this “failed fostering” which he said he loves.
The shelter has upticked its foster program where, especially for dogs who have been at the shelter for a long time, where it will allow them a sort-of-trial-adoption.
“Go out and try them. Most people at that time may realize that this dog may have a few little quirks, but we love them and we want to keep them and we just don’t have the heart to bring him or her back to a shelter,” Licitra said.
Licitra said the MCSPCA loves to work in partnership with all local shelters throughout New Jersey and beyond.