I hadn’t been in Atlantic City, NJ since 1975 when I attended the NJEA Convention as a student teacher. But when our RVing trip brought us perilously close to A.C. this weekend, we decided to take the plunge – to visit The Humane Society of Atlantic County, of course!
Although I had thoroughly reviewed their web site and facebook page beforehand, I was not quite prepared for what we found. I know that I haven’t visited all that many animal shelters (yet), but I can unequivocally say that this was the cleanest and most well-run shelter I have personally seen so far.
Every employee and volunteer that we spoke with was helpful and friendly. The shelter’s director, Steve Dash, spoke with us at length and was obviously excited and enthusiastic about HSAC’s accomplishments during the past 45 years. Their well-regarded veterinary clinic supports shelter operations and is the core of their very successful spay/neuter program. In addition to serving the local community, HSAC’s licensed veterinarians spay or neuter every shelter animal before adoption. In a year’s time, they perform thousands of spays and neuters, profoundly reducing the number of unwanted puppies and kittens that would otherwise be produced.
HSAC has also had a succession of three mobile spay/neuter units – each permanently parked in a neighboring town, used as a teaching hospital and then eventually sold to that town so that the good practices of spay/neuter and regular pet care can continue to spread throughout Southern NJ.
This approach is a superb system to attack pet overpopulation at the beginning. But what about the other end (so to speak) of the problem? HSAC has such a successful adoption program that they are able to reach out to other communities – especially the notoriously overcrowded shelters of the Southern States – for 75% of their intakes! All of the animals are temperament tested by trainers on staff, completely vetted, and socialized before they become available for adoption.
This shelter is in a bit of a tough location – wedged between a highway and the tidal wetland. Where can they exercise and socialize all the pups? In their own fenced in nirvana, of course! The staff and others have created a beautiful, park-like area for visitors, volunteers and pups to enjoy the outdoors happily and safely. Just look at the pictures . . .I couldn’t stop snapping them! There’s even a special environment for Cecil, the African Sulcata Tortoise and condos for the local feral cat colony. (Did I mention that HSAC is a huge proponent of TNR – Trap, Neuter, Return?)
This was just an amazing visit! These folks have been “doin’ it right” for a long time and I’m eager to share their great ideas with all my animal shelter and rescue colleagues. Check out their website to read more about their shelter and clinic. Have you seen or heard of other terrific shelter ideas? Share them below!