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  • Writer's pictureSusan Houser

Cape May County, NJ

Cape May County is a coastal resort area on the southern tip of New Jersey. It has almost 100,000 permanent residents, but the population increases greatly during vacation season. It has several townships (Lower (population 23,000), Middle (19,000), Upper (12,000), and Dennis (6000)) and the city of Wildwood (5000) as well as several smaller cities and boroughs. The county seat is in Middle Township. Ocean City (population 12,000) is at the county’s northern border.

Animal control and sheltering for the entire county, with the exception of Ocean City, is provided by the municipal Cape May County Animal Shelter and Adoption Center (CMCAS). CMCAS also accepts owner surrenders from county residents, with an appointment and a small fee.

In an interview in January 2011, shelter director Judy Davies reported that CMCAS had euthanized 8 percent of its dogs and 10 percent of its cats in 2010, compared to rates as high as 75% in previous years. The shelter reported a 7.5% euthanasia rate in 2011. The shelter does not post its statistics online, but Davies sent me the shelter’s statistics for 2012, which show a 91% live release rate with intake of 1157 dogs and cats. The statistics do not record any owner-requested euthanasias or animals who died or were lost in shelter care. The 2013 statistics reported by the shelter to the state of New Jersey show a save rate of 92%, with an intake of 1094 animals.

A big part of the county’s success is its trap-neuter-return program for feral cats, which was instituted in 2001 and is reported to have reduced the number of feral cat complaints by 80%. A group called the Animal Alliance of Cape May County holds low-cost TNR clinics. County leaders showed their dedication to the program in 2007 and 2008 when they negotiated compromise wildlife conservation rules that allowed the program to continue.

CMCAS director Judy Davies noted in the 2011 interview that the county’s intake is considerably lower than neighboring counties. The TNR program is certainly a factor in this lower intake, but Davies also attributed it to the shelter’s pet retention programs: “What we’re doing a lot more of is working with the owners of dogs. Someone might want to relinquish the dog to the shelter because it requires vet care they can’t afford or they just can’t afford the animal because of the economy. We intervene and try to help people.”

There are several private organizations that are very active in Cape May County, including the Paws & Claws Society (PACS), Beacon Animal Rescue (BAR),  Animal Outreach of Cape May County, and the Animal Welfare Society of Cape May County. PACS has a suite of programs including pet retention and adoption programs.

The Humane Society of Ocean City (HSOC) provides animal control and sheltering for Ocean City, and it has a high live release rate. I will report on Ocean City in a separate article.

Cape May County was originally listed by this blog on April 26, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 statistics.

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