HOPATCONG BOROUGH, NJ – Sitting on Santa’s lap is exciting even for our four-legged friends.

Dogs and cats proved that at the Hopatcong Pound Project’s visit from Santa at the new facility on Sunday, Nov. 18.

Dog and cat “parents” brought 38 dogs and six cats to the event.

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It was a fundraiser, and a chance to show off the building that will house cats at the borough pound, project co-chair Wendy Ciardi said.

The new building is up on its concrete foundation, but still needs interior finishing. However, it was put to use after the storm when the pound had to house 25 displaced dogs. Hopatcong Hardware donated propane to keep heaters running in the original and new buildings when the power was out, Ciardi said. The original building, of concrete block, retained the heat better than the new metal structure, she said.

The interior will be finished at least in part by Lowe’s. The Pound Project was a recipient of a “heroes in the community” award. Ciardi explained it is up to the store manager to decide how much drywall and other material will be donated. In addition, Lowe’s will landscape around the building as a springtime project.

Electrical and plumbing work also remain, Ciardi said.

She said the community has been generous. Each of the three doors in the new structure was sponsored at $259 each, and the two windows were sponsored at $139 each.

Once the building is complete, the old pound will be remodeled, Ciardi said.

The new facility will have a room at the front where people can get to know the cat they may be adopting. A gas fireplace used for the Santa Claus pictures will be in that front room, Ciardi said.

“The cat building will have four big rooms with Plexiglas,” she said. “There will be some cages for cats until they get acclimated.” S

he noted most people with cats have multiple animals, so the cats need to get used to each other.

Because the original pound, which is 55 years old, will have to be brought up to code, dogs may have to stay in the new building while work is done, she said.

The existing pound, is a narrow building with dog cages along one side and stacked cat cages on the other. Only two dogs were in the pound on the day of the Santa visit. Mo is an elderly dog whose elderly owners were both hospitalized during the storm. An energetic brown dog occupied another cage.

Ed VanOrden, co-chair of the project said, “Dogs come and go, they come in and then their owners claim them. Cats stay.”

Ciardi said she took VanOrden and other volunteers to Tabby’s Place, a shelter in Ringoes to show them the type of shelter she wanted, including an outdoor area for the cats.

The old building has bars on most windows, making it difficult to air condition it during heat waves, Ciardi said.

She said she was glad people got to see the new building when they brought their pets to see Santa. “It served as an open house.”

Animal Control Officer Dale Sloat was the pound’s Santa. Photos were by Bill Schuman, assisted by his son, Jared. Schuman owns The Ultimate Images in the borough. He used a “shoot and print” camera that plugs directly into a printer without a computer, so the photos were nearly instant.

Taking donations was Marion VanOrden, Ed’s mother. Pet parents were charged $10, but some made additional donations.

Ciardi said the project does not have another fundraiser planned, although they may have Santa come again in December. “We did this early so people can get Christmas cards made,” she said.

This and a wine tasting are the major fundraisers for the project.

“We can’t ask $50 for dinner here. This is a hard-working community.”  They are generous, she added, “there are a lot of great animal people in town.” 


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