BRICK – For 25 years, Jersey Shore Animal Center (JSAC) had been providing animal control services to the township, but in December 2014, Mayor John G. Ducey said that the township would be soliciting bids for animal control services in what he hoped would be a cost-saving measure.
Brick had been paying $265,000 of the nonprofit center’s $750,000 annual budget, but it had been operating in the red for 10 years.
At the time, JSAC board members looked at the numbers to see what could be brought in through charitable donations, adoptions, fundraisers, the on-site thrift shop and more, but realized they could not provide the services to the township with any less than what was already being charged. (A large portion of the center’s budget are insurance costs that are related to animal control services, which is considered high-risk).
The contract for animal control services went to A-Academy of Howell, for which Brick paid $95,000 a year.
In February 2015, a month after JSAC lost the Brick contract, Jaime McLachlan was hired as their new director.
“We were living paycheck-to-paycheck, so to speak, and without that big chunk coming from the town, the first thing we did was reduce the number of staff members – which at that time was about 25 – by about half,” she said recently.
The Board of Directors met and made the decision to decrease the number of animals housed at the center. As animals were adopted, the center would accept only as many animals they could handle with the reduced staff.
Now, at any given time, there are about 20 dogs and 50 cats available for adoption. Before the budget cut, the runs could handle about 40 dogs, and there was room for up to 200 cats, McLachlan said.
The animal services JSAC provided to Brick included a 24-hour service to pick up sick or injured wildlife of any kind, and responding to police and resident calls to pick up lost domestic animals.
“The word has gotten out with the town, and most people know we don’t do animal control anymore, but we still get calls every day,” she said.
JSAC receives no federal, state or county funding and are not affiliated with the Humane Society, the ASPCA or any other group. They are able to stay open because of various fundraisers, big and small, such as the annual gift auction (Sunday April 8 at Brick Elks Lodge); Party Bus to the Golden Nugget (Sunday April 29); the annual Beach to Bay 5K race on the barrier island (the first weekend in October); and more. Sometimes supporters leave their entire estate to the center, McLachlan said.
A major source of the center’s funding comes from their onsite thrift store, the Bow Wow Boutique, managed by Carol Foltz, which brings in about $100,000 annually, McLachlan said.
Bow Wow Boutique is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and they accept donations on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.
A new service the JSAC has just added is a low-cost spay/neuter clinic. JSAC has hired a full-time veterinarian, Dr. Caitlin Reich, who will perform spay/neuter procedures in an operating room onsite. The cost is $100 for a female cat and $75 for a male cat.
Pricing for dogs varies on their weight, but to spay a female costs between $200-$250 and to neuter a male the range is $150 to $175.
Dr. Reich also takes care of the animals housed at the shelter and will run a low-cost vaccine clinic on the first Saturday of every month from 9 a.m. until noon.
McLachlan said JSAC still takes surrendered animals if they have room, but they have established criteria for the kinds of animals they can accept.
“Strictly dogs, cats, puppies and kittens, and we try not to take any animal older than eight because it’s stressful for the animal, and it’s hard to get them adopted. They must also be in generally good health,” she said.
Some 60 to 80 volunteers regularly interact with the animals by walking the dogs and by keeping the cats socialized. Volunteers also conduct shelter tours and run offsite events, McLachlan said. They are always looking for volunteers, she added.
“Our doors are open, and they’re staying open,” she said.
For more information about becoming a volunteer, to learn more about the animals, to donate or to find out about fundraising, stop by JSAC located at 185 Brick Blvd., call 732 920-1600, or visit jerseyshoreanimalcenter.org.