NEWARK, NJ — Between medical costs, food supplies, toys, treats and grooming, animals can become a burden on pet owners' wallets, especially during the holidays.
However with the help of a No-Kill animal welfare organization, NJ STRAYS, families in need are provided with necessary supplies to avoid surrendering pets to over-populated shelters.
"Shelter life for dogs and cats is very hard in Newark and ends in euthanasia, even for healthy animals," said Rachel Moehl, NJ STRAYS director of marketing. The nonprofit aims to help pet owners over the hump of holiday expenses so they will not consider surrendering animals to shelters.
According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty, an estimated 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year. Approximately 1.5 million animals are euthanized each year and only about 710,000 strays are returned to their owners.
Since 2012, NJ STRAYS has been working to reduce shelter intake and euthanasia among sheltered animals. Moehl hopes New Jersey will become a no-kill state one day. The organization services eight counties across North Jersey and is relocating its headquarters from Maplewood to Bloomfield.
Pet owners seeking assistance through NJ STRAYS must demonstrate need through food stamps or unpaid utility bills.
NJ STRAYS is sponsored in part by Rogue Assassins, a Newark motorcycle club. At a recent food pantry event in Newark, club members transported food and supplies to pet owners' homes. By the end of the day, 1,322 pounds of cat litter and 968 pounds of pet food were distributed.
The nonprofit also sponsors free or low-cost microchip clinics, typically servicing anywhere from 20 to 100 pets at each clinic.
Found pets occupy shelter space that surrendered and abandoned pets could use, NJ STRAYS explains. With only seven days in New Jersey to reclaim found pets from shelters, found pets may be euthanized or adopted to other families. NJ STRAYS operates a lost pet hotline and awareness network across the counties it serves and offers advice to pet owners and communities regarding lost pets.
NJ STRAYS also sponsors outdoor cat relocation and organizes Wal-Mart food drives to encourage donations.
"We really want to help Newark pet owners keep their pets out of the shelter this holiday season and beyond," Moehl said.
Those interested in donating or volunteering for NJ STRAYS should visit its website at njstrays.org.