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Concert supports ongoing care for rescued animals

By Jennifer Ortiz
Staff Writer

When Monmouth University and the Associated Humane Societies (AHS) teamed up recently to present a benefit concert, the idea was to offer support to dogs that were rescued from a home in Howell in June and other animals that have come to be cared for at the organization’s shelter in Tinton Falls.

The AHS accepted its share of the 270-plus dogs that were removed from the Howell home of Joseph and Charlene Handrick. The organization has also accepted dogs and cats from other recent incidents that authorities have described as cases of hoarding.

Vaune Peck, the director of the Monmouth University Center for the Arts, said Veronica Ehrenspeck, the general manager of the AHS, was looking for a place  to hold a training session with an animal behaviorist. The behaviorist was going to teach shelter staff how to handle the dogs that had been rescued from the Howell home and were fearful of people.

“The behaviorist held a three-hour training session in Wilson Hall Auditorium (at the university),” Peck said. “I went to visit the (AHS) after that and a few nights later at dinner with friends, (musician) Norman Seldin and his wife, Jamie, and my friend, Pearl Lee, I said that I wished we could do something like a concert to raise funds to help the shelter. Norman said ‘OK’ and went to work putting all the artists together and marketing the event.”

Artists donated their talent and time to help the AHS, which Peck said is “an often overlooked shelter that took in over 120 dogs and cats from four hoarding situations during (a recent) month, in addition to being a pretty full facility in the first place.”

The concert to support the Associated Humane Societies took place at Monmouth University on July 25. Performances were by Stormin’ Norman Seldin, Pam McCoy, Jillian Rhys McCoy, Joe Petillo, Dave McCarthy, Sam Sims, Kyle Ward, Dimitris Kulaga, Kevin Feehan, 3 Sheets To The Wind, Mary McCrink, Ronnie Brandt, Gerry Gironda, Ray Johnson and Tom Pharo. The master of ceremonies for the event was Frank Dicopoulos.

Peck said the event was successful in terms of raising awareness and attracting monetary donations. She said she hopes people will continue to offer financial support to the AHS.

“Tickets sales could have been better, but we put the event together rather quickly in response to an immediate need,” Peck said.

Ehrenspeck said individuals can assist the AHS by donating food for cats, kittens and dogs.

Peck said, “Financial help is the highest priority, however, volunteers are also essential. The facility is old and needs upgrades. It needs a facelift, fresh paint, more space, signs and more visibility in the public eye.”

Ehrenspeck said the organization provides medical care for the animals it accepts. Medical services include vaccinations, spay and neuter surgeries, heartworm and feline aids/leukemia testing, microchipping and more.

Ehrenspeck said the dogs that were rescued from the Handricks’ home in Howell are coming around slowly. She said staff members and volunteers handle the dogs every day, although many are still scared and skittish around people. Most of the dogs that were removed from the Howell home were puppies.

“We want them to get to the point where they are not afraid of human touch and can be walked on a harness. We still have about eight dogs that are not ready to be adopted,” she said.

Ross Licitra, chief of the Monmouth County SPCA (MCSPCA) Law Enforcement Division, said that overall, the dogs that were taken from the Howell home on a warm evening in early June are doing well. He said more than half of the dogs have been adopted since they were removed from the hoarding situation in which they were living.

Officials said 276 dogs were removed from the home in Howell and many of those dogs were pregnant and have since delivered litters.

“We are down to dealing with the real troublesome ones. They are the ones that are basically really feral, who are socially inept in a way,” Licitra said. “We recently shipped some out to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New York. They have a specialized socialization program … to help dogs become more social.”

Licitra said some of the Howell dogs are still delivering litters. He said the goal is to place every dog in a loving home. Licitra said the MCSPCA appreciates the financial support individuals provide that help the organization care for the animals.

Donations may be made to the Monmouth County SPCA, 732-542-0040; the Associated Humane Societies, 732-922-0100; or St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, 973-377-2295; or at www.monmouthcountyspca.org

Ehrenspeck said donations may be made to the Tinton Falls shelter at www.ahscares.org

“Mention that the donation is for the Tinton Falls shelter or text humanehelp to 41444,” she said.

Members of the public may visit Friends of the Associated Humane Societies of Tinton Falls on Facebook for news about upcoming events, outreach efforts and to view animals that are ready for adoption.

“I know the manager at the Associated Humane Societies is extremely dedicated to caring for animals that are forgotten, abused and betrayed by their owners, and animals that are in unfortunate situations such as losing their caregivers to illness, death or financial difficulties. It is a social phenomenon that needs addressing,” Peck said.

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