TETERBORO — After an influx of dogs were turned in to the Bergen County Animal shelter after the holidays, officials warned not to give pets as gifts.
Since Christmas, 25 dogs were surrendered to the shelter, leaving it near capacity.
“Everyone thinks it’s a great idea to get a pet for a child for Christmas and don’t realize the responsibility,” Bergen County Commissioner Steven Tanelli said. “They get buyer’s remorse and our shelters get inundated with returns.”
The shelter currently has 60 dogs with 30 eligible for adoption, Bergen County Animal Shelter manager Bob Bergamini said.
The shelter is equipped to hold 103 dogs or 80 large dogs, which typically end up at the shelter, Bergamini said.
After an animal is surrendered at the shelter there is a seven-day hold in case someone wants to reclaim their pet. Then, the animal gets vetted by medical staff, vaccinated, spayed or neutered before being ready for adoption.
There is then a holding pattern and an evaluation to see if there are any behavioral issues or anything else the staff needs to know to find the perfect match. The shelter has a contract with three behavioral trainers to help prepare dogs for adoption.
“We really try to set the dogs up for success,” Bergamini said. “They come in very sad and go through having a home to shelter life. Some adopt quickly but others don’t and need time to work out what they’ve been through.”
While Tanelli was visiting the shelter this week he was excited to see a line of five people filling out adoption applications.
“When you walk through, they have such sad faces, you just want to take them all home with you,” he said.
How to adopt
Anyone interested in adopting from the animal shelter must fill out a form and see what pets are up for adoption on Pet Finder, Facebook and go to the shelter.
“Our volunteers do a great job and try to pick responsible pet owners to avoid this from happening after adoption,” Bergamini said.
The shelter has adoption hours Tuesday to Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Applications can be submitted online or anyone can call to schedule an appointment to meet a dog.
“We try to build a relationship with our adopters,” Bergamini said. “If we see a dog might not be the best fit, we have them come in to find the right fit for that family.”
After an adoption is finalized, the shelter provides the family with goody bags of food, toys and anything else it may need to help make an adoption successful.
There is also a monthly pet food distribution program for any pet owners who may be struggling to provide food for their animals. Residents just need to show proof that they live in Bergen County and can pick up food. Tanelli said they also send extra pet food to local food pantries to help any residents in need to help prevent future pet surrenders.
Anyone looking to donate can call the shelter and drop off unopened dog or cat food or new toys. Big blankets and towels, new or used are also always needed.