Our relationship with Antler Ridge Wildlife Sanctuary (ARWS) began on a cold, icy day 8 years ago when two sheep were spotted running on the NJ Turnpike. The pair, maybe escapees from a truck headed to the slaughterhouse, was captured by our animal control officer and brought back to the shelter. Despite the terrible weather, ARWS founder Kelly Simonetti responded promptly to our call for assistance, and, slipping and sliding on the ice, we wrangled the sheep into her truck. Those sheep are still alive today, enjoying a quiet life on a NJ farm owned by friends of Simonetti’s.
A non-profit licensed NJ rehabilitation center, ARWS is located on a 120 acre preserved farm in Warren County, and cares for fawns, raccoon, skunks, opossums, squirrels, rabbits, woodchucks and other small mammals. More than 1000 animals are brought to their facility every year. The mission of the all-volunteer group is to provide care and treatment to sick, injured or orphaned wild animals, rehabilitate them back to their wild state so they can be returned to their natural habitat, actively educate the public to care for and support the ecosystems and environment which they share with wildlife, and to protect and preserve our native lands.
We have transferred many, smaller, animals to ARWS since those sheep: squirrels, skunks, possums (including one delivered to us in a brown paper bag) chickens and roosters. Simonetti values the partnership. “We have great communication, “ she says. “LHS staff has been really careful and diligent about calling me, and we do all we can to help them out. It allows us both to focus on our missions.” Thank you, Antler Ridge, for always being there for us!
When our animal control officers received a call from Bayonne about an injured bird we expected to find a sparrow or a crow—but instead, they found an osprey. The bird had singed feathers and burns on its legs and feet, probably after an encounter with a methane exhaust chimney in the Meadowlands, and we transferred it immediately to The Raptor Trust for rehabilitation. (Amazingly, ospreys have made a comeback in NJ. They love to roost and nest on high structures, ideally trees and nesting platforms, but sometimes telephone and utility poles and the occasional exhaust pipe chimney in landfills.)
The Raptor Trust was able to treat the burns with creams and pain medications, but the bird’s feathers could not be fixed so quickly. Ospreys only molt once a year and this one would not grow in new feathers for many more months. To complicate the situation, ospreys are migratory birds that prefer to winter in a warm climate. It is unlikely that this bird would have thrived during a harsh NJ winter, so the bird was flown to a wild bird rehabilitator in Florida where it spent a sunny winter recuperating, and was released back into the wild once its new feathers molted in.
LHS has also brought dozens of pigeons, geese, ducks, falcons, herons and many smaller birds to The Raptor Trust, which is located in the Great Swamp in Millington. The organization has three goals: to provide free care and assistance to injured, sick, or orphaned wild birds, to educate people about wild birds, especially birds of prey, and to provide a humane example for others. We are proud to partner with this nationally recognized leader in wild bird rehabilitation and the conservation of birds of prey!
Brian Bradshaw has a soft spot for black cats. Like their canine counterparts, black cats often languish longer in shelters, some combination of superstition and bad lighting in kennels. But when Bradshaw, executive director of the Somerset Regional Animal Shelter, walked by Brooke’s cage at LHS last month and the 4 month old reached out with her paw as if to stop him, he knew he couldn’t leave her behind. The fact that Brooke only had one eye did not deter him either. “She is very sweet, “ he says. "I love the black cats."
Somerset Regional Animal Shelter, is a non-profit in Bridgewater, NJ that provides animal control services and cares for approximately 1,000 lost, abandoned and surrendered animals every year. Bradshaw is committed to reaching out to help NJ animals in need when he has extra space at his shelter. So far this year he has pulled 38 cats from LHS, including Brooke and a bonded pair named Raine and Lionel that his shelter was able to adopt out together in spite of their corneal scarring.
“I believe in helping your neighbors,” says Bradshaw. “LHS does a wonderful job with the cats. It is an inner city shelter that is moving forward and really trying to make things better in their own community. We work together.”
Lassie (now Lola) was an overbred black bulldog/Boston terrier mix with bad skin and nipples that hung to the floor. Moonlight (now Wilbur) had a serious yeast and bacterial infection that caused patches of fur loss. The deck was seriously stacked against both dogs, yet both are thriving in loving homes thanks to our wonderful partner FernDog Rescue. “We will pull anyone that touches us and that we have a foster for, no matter age, breed or medical condition,” says Adoption and Fosters Coordinator Donna Buccellato. “Lola looked pretty pathetic, but insanely beautiful to us." So far in 2015 FernDog
has pulled 7 dogs from LHS, including a 12-year-old Schnauzer.
Based in Caldwell, FernDog Rescue was founded by dog behavior consultant and trainer Fernando Camacho with one goal: to getdogs out of shelters and into foster homes as quickly as possible. He had witnessed the mental deterioration that can occur in a shelter to even the most adoptable dogs, and also believed that getting dogs into foster homes is the best way to prepare them for their future homes. Camacho, along with his friend and fellow trainer Buccellato, designed a foster program designed to nurture dogs’ physical and emotional health, help them through any issues, and provide a support system. FernDog also focuses on developing programs to promote pet adoption services and raise public awareness by providing community education of the issues surrounding animal rescue.
Dogs rescued by FernDog spend a minimum of two weeks in foster care, and fosterers receive all the training, support and resources they need. “We try to help anyone we can,” says Buccellato. “We never say no. Our dogs are family.”