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A Dog’s Journey


The private, nonprofit Animal Welfare Association (AWA), based in Voorhees, is drastically impacting the euthanasia rates for dogs and cats. In 2017, AWA prevented 792 new dogs from being euthanized thanks to their transport program. From August 1 to February 28, staff traveled 2,486 miles to bring back dogs to our shelter, equating to 50 transport trips. 

For dogs like Cole (formerly known as Luther), transports are crucial. Cole, along with two other puppies, traveled to AWA from a Mississippi shelter that had minimal treatment options. All three dogs were diagnosed with Parvovirus, which is a highly contagious canine disease that kills approximately 80 percent of untreated puppies. 

Cole, along with many other animals, were granted a second chance at life all because of this program. AWA was able to quarantine, treat and eventually find Cole to a loving home. Without this support, his story would have been different. According to Shelter Services Manager Nanci Keklak, “Shelter staff has traveled as far as Tennessee to save animals that would most likely not have made it in their previous living situation. Many dogs that could have been treated with the right facility would have been euthanized.” 

Through their transportation program, AWA provides extensive care to animals that are faced with medical conditions such as parvovirus. Treatment can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000 per dog. “AWA traveled to shelters that were 50 to 100 miles away to pick up dogs and place them in our adoption program,” says Shelter Services Supervisor David Caraco.  

Southern shelters typically are overcrowded and left with minimal treatment options. For shelters like AWA, there is a higher adoption demand which allows for animals to get adopted quickly, leaving more space to bring in new animals. South Jersey’s Camden County community alone has a save rate of 91 percent. This rate encompasses all four county shelters: Animal Welfare Association, Camden County Animal Shelter, Voorhees Animal Orphanage and Animal Adoption Center. Transports are costly, but are made possible due to generous donors and AWA staff that are willing to travel many miles to save lives.  

Through a variety of programs including adoptions, veterinary services, pet therapy and humane education, 23,000-plus pets were served through AWA programming last year alone. AWA is South Jersey’s leader in progressive companion animal care.

To learn more about AWA’s lifesaving programs, call 856-424-2288 orvisitawanj.org/programs.

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