We, the undersigned, adamantly urge you to institute a new volunteer program at the Bloomfield Animal Shelter, effective immediately. There are currently no in-shelter volunteers helping to care for the animals, and records show that the dogs are only being walked for a minimal length of time - sometimes only a few minutes, and not every day. The animals are not receiving any enrichment, training or sufficient human interaction, resulting in extreme kennel stress.
The fact that one of the dogs at the shelter, who originally was described as having very positive behavioral characteristics, has now bitten more than one person, is an example of what can happen to a dog that is not receiving sufficient attention, socialization and exercise.
“The term ‘kennel stress refers to the confinement insanity that occurs when animals are kept in enclosures for extended periods without enough opportunities to exercise, think, socialize and rest. We all understand the importance of keeping animals physically healthy through veterinary care, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, but it is important to note that stress and behavior problems can be just as deadly as illness.”*
The cats have also suffered from lack of attention. In the past, volunteers played with the cats and socialized them so they would be suitable for adoption. Some cats have been there for two years without finding a home.
The previous volunteers included an Adoption Committee that held events to encourage adoptions and went to great lengths to ensure the homes found for the animals were appropriate, loving and safe. Professional trainers also offered their time to help train the dogs and other volunteers on how to properly handle them.
The shelter has also been without a qualified shelter manager for several years. A recent “Acting Manager” left at the end of March and has not been replaced. The current acting manager is not qualified to be a full-time animal shelter manager.
Without help from volunteers, the animals will continue to live their lives cooped up in cages, becoming more stressed as each day passes. Staff members do not have the time to provide the individual attention the animals need. It is up to you to ensure that the animals in the Township's charge receive the care and training they need and deserve, in order to find loving, permanent homes.
We strongly urge you to hire a qualified manager, with experience in successfully and humanely managing a municipal shelter, and reinstate a full volunteer program immediately.
*Examiner.com, “Kennel stress may be the cause of death of an otherwise friendly dog,” January 2, 2013.