A Hurricane #Harvey Story: Somerset Regional Animal Shelter is Overflowing with Dogs, Cats & Kindness

Brian Bradshaw, executive director of Somerset Regional Animal Shelter got the call on Sunday night from St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center: Would the shelter take dogs that were pulled from Texas shelters to make room for family pets displaced by Hurricane Harvey? “How could we not help?” he said.

Even though the New Jersey shelter had just taken in five dogs and 30 cats from Associated Humane Societies in Newark. Even though they were still caring for 30 cats rescued from a hoarding situation in Bridgewater. And even though they had recently pulled 20 dogs, 5 hamsters and a parakeet from a shelter in Kentucky.

Bradshaw was there to meet the dogs of Harvey, along with several other shelters who had agreed to take them in. “It was a heartwarming and emotional moment,” he says, as everyone helped unload the dogs and distribute them among the volunteers and vehicles waiting to take the pups on the next step in their journey to forever homes.

Coordinated by the Humane Society of the United States, and flown in through Wings of Rescue — an organization of volunteer pilots who fly rescue missions in their own airplanes — the 70 dogs were the first group of pups to land in New Jersey.

Eight dogs came to the SRAS, and the call went out on Tuesday to the local community for towels, bleach and pet carriers to help care for the animals from Texas, as well as the ones already here.

The next day —Wednesday — I brought a box full of treats, toys, free food coupons, cat litter, food dispensers and other dog and cat swag that I had been collecting to give to the shelter. Now’s as good a time as any, I thought.

I called first, to see if they still needed towels as well, and that was the first time I had any inkling about how much our local animal-loving community comes through when they’re needed. “We have enough towels,” said the volunteer who answered the phone. “But we still need bleach and other items like crates, and food.”

She wasn’t kidding. When I arrived less than an hour later, the pile outside the shelter was huge.

The pile of donations outside the building was large, and growing larger by the minute as people continued to drop off needed items while I was there.

The pile of donations outside the building was large, and growing larger by the minute as people continued to drop off needed items while I was there.

Inside, the shelves were overflowing as well.

Towels overflowed the shelves inside Somerset Regional Animal Shelter as people continued to donate to help the canine victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Towels overflowed the shelves inside Somerset Regional Animal Shelter as people continued to donate to help the canine victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Cars were pulling in the parking lot, and the pile continued to grow. As volunteers brought items into the building, more were added. And as people stopped by, they also came to see the dogs and the cats — and the parakeet — who were waiting for their forever homes. (In case you’re wondering, the hamsters were delivered to St. Hubert’s. “They have an entire room dedicated to small animals: hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs,” Brian said.)

Parakeet  up for adoption at the Somerset Regional Animal Shelter

Parakeet up for adoption at the Somerset Regional Animal Shelter

While many people were excited by the idea of helping a “Harvey dog” as they started to be called, those pups weren’t available for adoption just yet. They were being assessed by a veterinarian, and given appropriate vaccines; the canine refugees were still quarantined until each one had a clean bill of health from the vet, and many still needed to be spayed or neutered.

The shelter was a flurry of activity. All the animals needed to be fed. Crates and cages needed to be cleaned. The mountain of donations needed to be sorted and stored. Amidst the controlled chaos, volunteers always had time for a softly spoken kind word or a gentle caress for each dog or cat they cared for.

Because of the press coverage, there were so many people bringing donations, visiting the animals, and calling to ask how to help, it might have been easy to miss the basic purpose of the shelter that was still taking place in the background: pets were being adopted. I watched one dog — a small terrier named Ralph — find his forever home, with a family that included a canine brother Piper, and his new human, who it turns out is former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman. “I was looking for an older dog,” she told me. “Piper is thirteen,” she said, referring to the Scottie who was standing by her side. Ralph, at nearly eight years old, is considered a senior dog. “They’re harder to adopt,” Whitman told me. “But Ralph is easy to love,” she said, as her new family member came over to lick my face.

Former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman with her canine family.

Former New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman with her canine family Piper the Scottie, and the newest addition: Ralph.

The best way to help, I figured, in addition to the donation, was to highlight some of the adoptable animals who just want to go home. Rose Tropeano-Digilio, assistant shelter manager agreed. “And please tell your followers we need volunteers as well. We need people to walk the dogs, to clean the cages. We could always use more hands.”

Jack German Shepherd Mix an adoptable dog at Somerset Regional Animal Shelter

Like to walk? Like dogs? Get those steps in by walking a sweetheart like Jack, a German Shepherd mix waiting for his forever home at Somerset Regional Animal Shelter. Become a volunteer. Or add Jack to your family.

Below are some faces I guarantee you’ll find irresistible. Some are Harvey Dogs, some are Newark Cats, some are Kentucky Dogs, some are Bridgewater Cats. All are waiting to be adopted, hoping for new homes.

Silas adoptable dog Somerset Regional Animal Shelter

Silas wants you to take him home.

 

Mia adoptable dog Somerset Regional Animal Shelter

Mia is the sweetest girl.

 

Sascha an adoptable dog Somerset Regional Animal Shelter

Best guess is Sascha is a Pekingese / Shih Tzu mix. She’s an older dog who just wants a home to curl up in.

 

Cecil an adoptable dog Somerset Regional Animal Shelter

Cecil came from Kentucky, but would love a New Jersey home.

 

Dog available for adoption at SRAS.

Another Kentucky dog, I didn’t catch his name, but he had the Best Ears.

 

Dachshund an adoptable dog Somerset Regional Animal Shelter

I didn’t catch the name of this Dachshund mix, but I’m sure there’s a home just perfect for him — or her.

 

Window an adoptable cat Somerset Regional Animal Shelter

This adorable cat posed for me, even though I interrupted some serious birdwatching. He was one of the Bridgewater cats, looking for a forever home.

 

A trio of kittens were among the dozens available for adoption at SRAS.

A trio of kittens were among the dozens available for adoption at SRAS.

 

Rescued from Hurricane Harvey Brindle dog available for adoption at SRAS.

One of the Harvey dogs, this sweet brindle pup had no name, just a number, but he knew how to sit pretty. I wonder what lucky family will adopt him?

 

Pebbles rescued from Hurricane Harvey dog available for adoption at SRAS.

Look into the eyes of another unnamed dog rescued from Hurricane Harvey. He had no name, and was just referred to as “one of puppies.”

With so much destruction and devastation in Texas, and with so much anger and hurt that we are bombarded with on a daily basis, it’s easy to lose hope, to think there’s nothing we can do, that people don’t care. But just an hour spent at the Somerset Regional Animal Shelter renewed my faith, as individuals from a dog walker to a former governor did what each one could: drop off food, help with the animals, adopt an older soul.

Sometimes it takes other species to bring out our humanity.

How You Can Help Somerset Regional Animal Shelter Hurricane Harvey Dogs (and others)

Donate

  • Most needed items now include food, bleach, paper towels and crates. The shelter donated the crates they had to help rescue efforts in Texas.
  • Items can be dropped off during shelter hours (12 noon – 4:00 PM daily and on Wednesdays until 7:00 PM)
  • If you don’t need a receipt, you can put your items in the donation bin underneath the shelter’s carport.
  • You can also donate items directly from the SRAS wish list on Amazon.com.
  • Monetary donations are also accepted — and encouraged. Money helps cover veterinary care and supplies. To donate, go to www.srasnj.org/donate.

Volunteer

You need to be trained to work directly with the animals, but there are lots of things you can do to help the shelter. Call and find out what you can do to help. Or better yet, get trained so you can help now, and in the future.

Adopt

Looking for a friend? There are so many dogs and cats in need of homes, and fostering.

Somerset Regional Animal Shelter is located at 100 Commons Way, Bridgewater, NJ 08807.



4 Comments on "A Hurricane #Harvey Story: Somerset Regional Animal Shelter is Overflowing with Dogs, Cats & Kindness"

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  1. What a great story. So many shelters are pitching in and helping the animals in Texas. Even the shelter that the mom volunteers at will be getting some of the animals, though we haven’t seen them yet.

  2. Great post ! Paws up for the volunteers and for people who donate ! Purrs

  3. meowmeowmans says:

    Awesome post. We love that so many shelters like Somerset are doing what they can to help the animals in Texas and Louisiana.

  4. da tabbies o trout towne says:

    awww……..best best BEST fishes two each oh ewe; that ya findz yur for everz home….yet thiz week ~~~ ♥♥♥

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