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Sadie takes advantage of Jay Buerger working from home. COURTESY ASHLEY VEGLIANTE

Montclair Township Animal Shelter
77 North Willow Ave.
To see adoptable cats and dogs: tinyurl.com/vd5qh4u
To apply to foster or adopt a cat: tinyurl.com/rrhb5bs
To apply to foster or adopt a dog: tinyurl.com/r9y87bv
Commitment could be upwards of three months.
Food donations can be left at front door. No linens.
Pet food available to those in need.
Email mtas@montclairnjusa.org.

By GWEN OREL
orel@montclairlocal.news

Animal Control officers are considered essential personnel.

The dogs and cats at the Montclair Township Animal Shelter will not be left to starve, while the shelter itself is closed.

But MTAS Director Liz Morgan is not relaxed. “We’re trying to get as many animals out as possible,” she said. “We do believe the state will go on more of a lockdown. I’m concerned about staff members being able to get there to care for the dogs.

“I’m trying to get the animals out of the building.”

Volunteers who normally help out the staff are not able to come in.

Adoptable cats and dogs can be viewed online, and applications are made there too. Morgan advises potential pet owners and fosters that the adoption/foster needs a commitment of at least three months. The shelter will work to make a good match with adopters and foster caretakers. 

“If you are willing to do this, you have to buck up. Some stuff may not be comfortable. There could be some house-training accidents. There cannot be any back-and-forth, as the CDC recommends.” 

If a senior citizen is interested in adopting, the shelter will bring the animal to them. “We don’t want seniors out on the street.”

The dogs and cats in the shelter — including High-Five, featured in a Montclair Local story about the cat room renovation — are calm so far with the decrease in volunteers, but would rather have a home.

So far, the public is already responding: people have come in saying they have been meaning to adopt a pet for a long time and did not have the time to acclimate an animal to their routine.

And yes, these are unofficial therapy animals.

“Dogs and cats are highly therapeutic for people,” Morgan said. “Their level of unconditional love and understanding is not available from human beings.”

Now, everybody is at home, and has time.

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READ: ANIMAL SHELTER CAT ROOMS SPRUCE UP

READ: COVID-19: SHOPPING SAFELY, WITH HELPING HANDS

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Sirius is friendly and purry. COURTESY AMANDA CROWELL

Amanda Crowell, of Glen Ridge, adopted two black cats from MTAS, a bonded pair of siblings, Sirius and Luna, a week ago Sunday.

A beloved cat had died in February. Her family had intended to wait a little longer before getting a new one, but then when COVID-19 hit, she wondered what would happen to the shelter cats. Maybe she would not even be able to get one months from now.

The siblings she adopted are 10 years old. The family, including her husband,  9-year-old daughter Abi, and 7-year-old son Alex, would like to adopt a kitten in the future, but then they met Sirius and Luna and fell in love.
“We said, ‘who here wants to be our friend?’ Sirius wanted to be our friend, and Luna was his best friend, so she came too,” Crowell said.

“Sirius is very friendly. Luna is a cautious cat. When we took Sirius into a room to pet him, he freaked out because there was no Luna. When we brought Luna in, he was ‘now you can pet me and I will purr.’” Luna has been gradually emerging from under the bed, Crowell said. 

When they came home a week ago Monday, it was the first day of virtual learning.

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Luna emerges from under the bed. COURTESY AMANDA CROWELL

But Amanda Crowell’s children were so excited, it was like Christmas. “The cats are here! The cats are here!” they said.

“It’s a relief to have a cat again,” Crowell said. “I think we’ve worked really hard to make this not all that stressful, if at all possible. Having cats is a thing we can talk about that isn’t coronavirus.”

This past Sunday, Montclair Ambulance Unit Chief Amanda Vegliante became a foster parent to Sadie, a Rhodesian Ridgeback mix who is about 2 ½ years old.

“I’m already a failed foster,” Vegliante said with a laugh. “We don’t have a choice. She’s adorable. She’s the most grateful dog ever.”

The MAU, MTAS, the Office of Emergency Management and others have all been working together and meeting, which is how Vegliante learned of the drive to empty the shelter. Vegliante has cats, and recently moved. Her boyfriend is at home, and it seemed like a good time to adopt.

“Animals are a good break in the craziness of what’s going on. She convinced me to go outside, go for walks. I’m socially distancing, but I take a hike a day. Playing with the dog in the backyard distracts me from the craziness in the world.”

And, she added, dogs (and cats) can’t get the virus.

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MTAS staff member Bleu Burgos hand-feeds High-5. COURTESY MTAS
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