BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Somerset Regional Animal Shelter hosted a ribbon cutting June 14 to celebrate the opening of a new dog play yard, donated by Tony Martinez, of the National Fence Company, in honor of his mother, Isabel Martinez, an animal welfare advocate.

“We need an area for dogs to play and meet,” Brian Bradshaw, shelter manager, said.

Natalie Zaman, a board member for the shelter, said the fence surrounds a play yard for the dogs.

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“Every day all over the shelter we serve all kinds of animals," she said. “It is a place for dogs to play with other dogs, and meet potential adopters.”

Tony Martinez said he lives in Bridgewater, and his mother was always supporting the animals. He said the shelter mentioned they were looking to get fencing, so he decided to help out.

The fence, Martinez said, surrounds three yards with a running area as well.

“We finished the fencing about a month ago,” he said.

Councilwoman Christine Henderson Rose, who Bridgewater Mayor Dan Hayes called a ‘champion’ for the shelter, said the fencing serves a wonderful need in the community.

“We don’t see this at other shelters,” she said. “This is where we go to see the community at work.”

“The dogs get to get their energy out before meeting the families, and families get to see the dogs in a more natural setting,” she added. “It makes the animals more adoptable.”

Tim Pino, a board member with the shelter also announced a new animal control vehicle, which was purchased in part from a grant given to the shelter in honor of late Bridgewater resident Alison Marie Wildman.

The Alison Marie Wildman Foundation was started in memory of Wildman, who died on Sept. 11. The foundation supports animals, and has donated to the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit, as well as the shelter, in the past.

“We are always trying to make the shelter better, and one of the best benefactors is Mr. Wildman,” Pino said of Arthur Wildman, who manages the foundation in memory of his daughter.

Pino said the foundation has donated about $40,000 over the years to the K9 Unit, and it has also donated to the shelter to treat animals.

“We wanted to do something for him and the foundation, and this van is in honor of the foundation,” Pino said of the inscription on the van dedicated to Alison Marie Wildman. “The vehicle will be used to rescue strays in Bridgewater, Manville, Green Brook and other areas.”

Arthur Wildman said it is nice to be part of the shelter, and the foundation has donated several thousands of dollars to the organization.

“We will continue to support the shelter,” he said. “It is a very deserving organization.”

Hayes said the township is proud of the work the shelter does for the community.

“Brian and his team have done some amazing things at the shelter,” he said. “The community is better off for it.”