Shelter Changes Make Residents Worry For Animals’ Safety

Josie is one of several cats up for adoption. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  TOMS RIVER – Some changes at the Toms River Animal Shelter have pet lovers concerned that the shelter is closing and that the animals will be euthanized, which the mayor denies.

  The facility is located at 235 Oak Avenue, near the police station.

  Grayson Clark posted on the Facebook group Lost Pets In Ocean County, NJ about the shelter, although it is generally assumed that this is not the true name of the poster. They said:

  “This is a PSA for residents of Toms River. This past weekend (Jan 13-14) new Toms River Mayor Daniel Rodrick decreed that the Toms River Animal Shelter is no longer accepting animals for impound. Instead, any animals surrendered, as well as any animals picked up at large by Animal Control, are to be brought immediately to the Northern Ocean County Animal Shelter in Jackson. This includes all dogs and all cats.

Penny is the unofficial boss of the shelter. However, she tends to swat people. (Source: She tried to swat this reporter.) (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  “With the Toms River Animal Shelter’s population dwindling without any new intake, you can make your own deductions about what will happen to the facility.


  “Additionally, the shelter employees were forbidden from informing the public about any of these changes.

If you disagree with this new policy, make sure to have your voice heard by the township: or 732-341-1000, ext. 8255”

  Brian Lippai, public information officer for the Ocean County Health Department which oversees the shelters, said that three cats were impounded from the Toms River shelter to the county Jackson facility during the first week of this new policy. Additionally, one cat was brought in by a resident. Two stray dogs came in but they were already claimed by the owner.

  “When this began, we were at capacity,” Rodrick told The Toms River Times. “We have no room for animals right now.”

There were many empty cages at the shelter during a tour on January 22. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  However, a reporter’s visit to the shelter on January 22 showed more than 16 empty cat cages.

  According to a Toms River official, six cats had been adopted from the date of the mayor’s decree until about January 23. Additionally, three dogs were adopted and a rescue organization took in four dogs for fostering.

Dillon is energetic, and loves his toy. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  “Many animals were in the shelter for more than a year, which amounts to animal cruelty in my opinion,” Rodrick said. “That’s not fair for an animal whose lifespan is only seven to ten years.”

What Happens To The Animals?

  “NJ law indicates that all stray animals must be held for a minimum of 7 days. If a potential owner fails to reclaim a pet after this period, the shelter can make it available for adoption, foster care, rescue or humanely euthanized. A variety of factors determines the process a shelter may take such as, but not limited to, health and age of the pet, temperament and adoptability, space availability, rescue options, and length of stay,” said Lippai.

A cat named Pierogi was scheduled to go home after January 22. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  The most recent stats available for the county shelters show that in 2022, there were 509 dogs impounded at the Jackson facility. Of these, 249 were redeemed, 136 were adopted, and 26 were euthanized.

  Also in 2022, there were 1,195 cats impounded. Of these, 78 were redeemed, 643 were adopted, and 307 were euthanized.

  These numbers are just the Jackson facility and does not account for other shelters in the area, whether run by a government or a nonprofit.

Changing Hours, Cost

  Rodrick also said he wants to change the hours on the shelter. The current hours are 1-4 p.m. by appointment only.

  These are not the hours that people are looking for pets, he said. He wants to have staff there a few nights a week until 7 p.m. This change will go into effect after the Township Council votes on it.

Potential pet adopters are urged to call the shelter to visit. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  “We’re not open when people are looking to adopt,” he said. “Until that is fixed, I’m not comfortable with taking in any more.”

  Meanwhile, Rodrick has removed the fee for anyone adopting a pet from the Toms River shelter in hopes that it will encourage more adopters.

There are a few cats that don’t have enough weight to be fixed yet, so they are not ready for adoption. (Photo by Chris Lundy)

  “Mayor Dan Rodrick has no plans to close the shelter and it will not be closed,” a township press release stated.

  The shelter on January 23 posted that they are hiring a part-time kennel aide.

Potential pet adopters are urged to call the shelter to visit. (Photo by Chris Lundy)