West Milford Animal Shelter survives with all-volunteer dedicated team

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  • Photo by Don WebbThe West Milford Animal Shelter.

  • Photo by Don WebbTerri Nelson washes all the animal's bowls. "There's ALWAYS dishes to clean " she said.

  • Photo by Don Webb"Champ" waits for someone to adopt him from the West Milford Animal Shelter.

  • Photo by Don WebbRuss Kent cleans the dog kennels.

By Justina Addice

As a 100 percent volunteer and nonprofit humane organization, the West Milford Animal Shelter promotes the welfare of companion animals by taking in homeless dogs, cats, and the occasional rabbit and rooster, and giving them loving and forever homes.

In 1976, when the shelter first began, the team was merely assisting the town-run Animal Control Officers with operation of the shelter.

Throughout the years, however, those working and volunteering at the shelter decided that their goals differed from those of the ACO’s and set out to gain the authority they needed to better promote spay/neuter programs, educate the public about animal welfare issues, and increase adoptions.

By 1994, they accomplished their goals and a few years later, they were regarded as a top-quality, unique animal shelter.

In 2018, the shelter has had a successful year, with about 360 animals coming through the shelter, a significantly less amount from past years due to the Trap Neuter Return program.

The program humanely traps feral cats to be spayed and neutered, and then, once they’re healthy, return them back to their homes outdoors.

“You always have to think it through and make sure you’re ready for the responsibility," said Vice President Terry Nelson about adopting pets. "Think of them like people — they might be shy and will need some time to settle in.”

Nelson pointed out that multiple people have returned animals to the shelter after only a few days because they were too shy, a result of not being given adequate time to adjust, which is why this was important advice that she felt everyone should know.

The shelter has many different areas for the animals, both outdoor and indoor enclosures for the dogs, "catteries" for the cats to roam free in, and a section for the kittens who are up for adoption. In fact, a triplet of kittens were found in someone’s backyard when they were only a week old, and were then bottle-fed by staff and volunteers.

For anyone looking to adopt these wonderful animals, the West Milford Animal Shelter is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wednesday evenings from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., and from 10 .m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

There are many staff members who help make the animals shelter a success — President Jean Bremy, Vice President Terri Nelson, Treasurer Cindy Rinehart, Secretary Corienne Brown, Health Officer Bettina Bieri, and Fundraiser/ Ad Campaign manager Gail Hettenbach. You can contact them through their website at https://westmilfordanimalshelter.org/

Not only will the staff appreciate it, but the animals will too.

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