Local Veterinarian Runs Animal Shelter in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

Dr. Boncheck looks out over the clothing and pet check-in areas at the shelterThe scene is a little bit chaotic. All around this post-Hurricane Sandy animal shelter, set up in a gymnasium at a church in Burlington Township, people come by to visit with their pets, while others come through the gym to use the shower room or to select clothing they’ll need while they’re in the shelter.

Since last Monday, this place has been where you’d be most likely to find Rebecca Boncheck, VMD, a veterinarian and owner of the Chesterfield Veterinary Clinic in Bordentown, NJ. Dr. Boncheck is also in charge of the Burlington County Animal Response Team (CART), a county organization that works with similar groups state-wide to help animals in the event of a disaster such as Hurricane Sandy. Ann, a volunteer at the shelter, handles check-in for the pet shelterFor the past week, she has done everything from setting up the dog, cat and isolation wards, to examining and treating animals, managing an inventory of donated items, and building all of the protocols, processes and volunteer staff needed to make this animal relief effort a well-oiled machine. A few days in, she feels like the operation is working well, although there are still needs to be met. Because of what she’s built, many similar organizations will be looking to Dr. Boncheck in the coming months as a thought-leader on the best way to set up and run a shelter like this in the face of a disaster.

A technician puts ear medication on a beagle staying at the shelterThe outpouring of support at this shelter in Burlington Township has been tremendous, and so has been the need. As people displaced by the storm, some left only with their closest family members and the clothes on their back, try to cope and figure out their next move, the veterinary and local volunteers do everything they can to make the experience as comfortable as possible for the pets brought in with their owners. Animals here receive exams and necessary treatments, they get walked and played with by volunteers, and see their owners every day.

Dr. Boncheck shows Phil Barnes of NorthStar VETS some of the procedures she's built that enable the shelter to run smoothly.What these shelters and organizations have been doing around the state to help animals get rescued, cared for and reunited with their owners has been amazing. NorthStar VETS has been approved to send its staff down to help, and everyone from the NorthStar VETS Chief of Staff, Dr. Daniel Stobie, to the veterinary technician team, have all had a chance to visit and help these animals in need.

To donate needed items to this shelter, contact the Fountain of Life, located at 2035 Columbus Road, Burlington Township, NJ 08016.
A Pomeranian relaxes in a crate at the Burlington County Animal Rescue Team Shelter A veterinary technician checks on pets in the dog ward at the Burlington CART shelter Many items have been donated to the shelter, and have been instrumental in helping the animals staying there In the distance, a volunteer walks a dog staying at the shelter. The exercise is good for the animals, who may not be used to being crated. A cat looks out of its cage to catch a glimpse of the activity going on around the cat ward. Even birds, ferrets and reptiles were brought to the shelter.

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