Englewood NJ START II Animal Shelter Seeking Volunteers

ENGLEWOOD — A city-based animal shelter has continued to see a massive drop in volunteers, making it difficult to manage day-to-day operations and raising fears for its future.

As a volunteer-run animal rescue group, START II – Save the Animals Rescue Team II – receives no state or local government funding. The group was started about 41 years ago in Elmwood Park by Marge Kayne, who moved the operation to a larger facility in Rockland County, New York, for about 15 years.

The animal shelter put out a call last year outlining a need for volunteers, but has had little success in retaining long-term volunteers. The shelter has lost many volunteers during the pandemic, and most of them have not returned.

“It’s very strange, since people will call [saying] that they want to volunteer and they don’t show up or come in and say, ‘It’s not for us, we don’t get paid,'” Kayne said.

Volunteers who said they would come to help disappeared, such as a group of boy scouts who didn’t show up to paint and someone who came once and left after half a day.

“We can’t operate like this,” said Diane Errichiello, a public relations volunteer for the shelter. “We urgently need volunteers.

Last year, the shelter had about 40 active volunteers, which was already short of the 75 needed. This year, that number has dropped even further, to 30, Kayne said. Currently, the shelter houses about 30 cats and 10 dogs, and people aren’t adopting as easily as they did during the height of the pandemic, she said.

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Another issue is outdoor dog crates. Errichiello described them as “completely rotten” at this point. The cages cost over $40,000 and Kayne is desperate for someone in the community who can fix them.

Errichiello said she personally fears the shelter will have to close one day if it doesn’t find more help.

“We don’t have the volunteers who are at hand,” she said. “We are mostly women, and the majority of people are 70 or older, or working.”

Although the most urgent need is at the shelter in Englewood, START II also needs help socializing the cats at the Wayne Petsmart store. The group also helps out on the Paramus Petsmart site, but there are enough volunteers at the moment.

Supply chain issues, including a lack of truck drivers, have slowed shelf stocking at stores and contributed to a decrease in canned food donations for cats and dogs, Kayne said.

Beyond volunteering, gift cards are the best way to support the shelter. Kayne can be reached at 732-330-6692.

For more information about START II and to donate online, visit sites.google.com/view/save-the-animals-rescue-team-2/. Gift cards can be mailed to START II at PO Box 177, Elmwood Park, NJ 07407.

Stephanie Noda is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @snoda11

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