Helping Hand Gives Animals A Home

Posted: December 20, 1999

VOORHEES — Mugsy was not concerned about having a set of fake reindeer antlers strapped to his forehead. He did not seem to care about the fat guy draped in red velvet and wearing a white beard who kept asking him to pose for pictures.

For a few hours Saturday afternoon, Mugsy, a handsome mixed boxer with brown and white markings, did an unconvincing act as a reindeer. His dog disposition showed right through.

All he seemed to care about was breaking into the presents: 50-pound bags of Alpo, boxes of Milk Bones, even bags of cat litter, all of which had been donated to the Animal Orphanage, a nonprofit shelter for abandoned pets on Cooper Road.

Mugsy is one of 76 dogs and 50 cats at the shelter that need a home. He was one of the attractions Saturday at a fund-raiser held by Animal Orphanage staff to buy fiberglass beds that will help keep the dogs warm during the winter.

At the event, which raised about $500, the shelter's staff held a raffle for a cash prize. It also sought donations of food and cleaning materials, which are needed year-round.

The volunteers were swamped with pet lovers looking for a new friend just a week before Christmas. But the orphanage screens each potential parent thoroughly to make sure all pets are wanted.

"We do not do gift adoptions," said Maureen Bobb of Berlin Township, a longtime volunteer who works as many as 40 hours a week at the shelter. "We want to make sure [the dogs and cats] have permanent homes."

Potential adopters are asked to fill out a three-page application and complete an interview with orphanage staff.

The orphanage's policy is not to put animals to sleep unless they are aggressive or sick. The orphanage tries to find homes even for animals that have treatable medical problems. One such animal is Snowflake, a 9-year-old white cat with cancerous tumors on her ears.

"We're looking for anyone who can take her," said volunteer Tina Hubler, a credit analyst from Haddon Township. "She just likes to be held."

Bobb and Hubler said shelter volunteers would donate money to help pay for an operation to remove the lesions.

In the kennel, full-breed dogs and mutts waited with eager eyes and perky ears to be taken home.

Liz Gilroy packed her 6-year-old daughter, Mimi, 7-year-old-son, George, and the family's pug, Norman, into her car and drove two hours from Fair Lawn, Bergen County, to adopt a full-breed schipperke.

"My goal was to adopt an unwanted dog rather than buy one," Gilroy said. "Many adult dogs don't have that second chance."

Gilroy said she was prepared to drive anywhere in the Northeast to find the spunky breed. Her children agreed that the trip was worth it when they took home their new pet, Zeus.

"He's cute," Mimi said as she played with Zeus in the backseat of her mother's car. "He's going to love me and jump on my bed at night."

Anyone wishing to adopt an animal or help the shelter should call 856-627-9111.

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