Kathy McGuire has been in animal rescue for more than 20 years, with 15 of those in New Jersey where she is helping animals daily. Kathy founded New Jersey Aid for Animals in 2005 where they focus on helping the animals and residents who live in low-income communities. Sweet Pea was a bait dog used in dogfighting who was left for dead on the streets of Camden, NY. Kathy and the volunteers of NJAFA immediately took Sweet Pea to the hospital to determine she had a long road ahead for recovery. She’s a fighter, fast forward 3 years and she became the face of dogfighting awareness, you can read the story here.
Welcome to the professionals and Animal Rescue podcast. Where goal is to introduce you two amazing people helping animals and share how you can get involved with animal rescue. This podcast is probably sponsored by do bert dot com. Do Bert is a free website designed to connect volunteers with rescues and shelters and the only site that automates rescue relay transport. Now on with our show. Kathy McGuire is the president and founder of New Jersey Aid for Animals in all volunteer animal welfare charitable nonprofit that began in 2005. They focused on helping homeless animals and residents with pets and low income communities. Their mission is to enrich the life of every animal they touch. Provide programs from domestic animals on wellness, humane education. Spay neuter with a focus on impoverished communities. They encourage people to report abuse and pursue justice for abuse animals. Hey, Kathy, Thanks for coming on today. Well, thank you so much. What a great invitation. Thio, have me on this part of your, uh, your program today. Well, we certainly appreciate you joining. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about you and kind of how did you get the bug for for animal rescue. Well, I moved here about 15 years here, being New Jersey from another state where I had been involved in a couple of animal rescue board and did a lot of rescuing on my own. Not that is a as a unofficial non profit but being involved that way. And so when I moved here 15 years ago, I had taken a detour to the city of Camden one day and got lost and didn’t realize what I need Their waas in this 10 square mile of 73,000 people that spends about $430,000 a year on sheltering an animal control. That’s about, you know, a lot of money for So I came back and told my my groom that I thought I wanted to take my degree in marketing and my experience in animal rescue and nonprofit and start off start an animal charity. And, uh, because I didn’t have time to go through toe, learn everything from the ground up, and I wanted to hit the ground running. I, uh, 2003. So in 2000 for I went to the Police Academy in Ocean County got my certification of animal cruelty investigators. An animal control officer, Uh, not working as one, but layering all those components together to be able to do any type of, um, quote unquote rescue that would come that we’d come our way. So that’s really what we did. Um, Just started New Jersey for animals, and I have been going strong ever since. So now you’re not somebody that had, you know, a classic or historic background and animal sheltering or anything like that? No, no, But I had I had done things, you know, And in the in the state that I lived in, I had worked with the local shelter doing fostering and and again on the board of a couple of foster based rescues so that I knew I knew the ins and outs of the nonprofit arena. And it isn’t always dabbling and, you know, really warm cat, Uh, my garage. Remember, I have a heated garage garage where I lived and I never had a car in it, but I had 35 cages of ring worms with cats with ringworm. That reward that way saved because it is a treatable. But a lot of shelters will put down because it’s so contagious. So things like that that I dabbled in and I thought, Boy, you know, I have enough experience that I can that I can put something together And I came up with New Jersey for animals and really, literally next time I went to camp and I wasn’t lost, E knew exactly what I was gonna be doing that that was gonna be my focus. And that’s where we have focused a lot. And fortunately in since 2003 when I moved here in 2005 when we incorporated with NJ of A. I made a lot of connections, and we’ve we’ve been able to, um, have provided resource is for people that call New Jersey for animals. In fact, when you call our number, it says you called us because you have an animal problem. You need help. And that’s where we start the conversation. That’s really cool. So just buy a chance of you getting lost. You kind of stumbled into an area and saw a need and really just let that kind of fuel your passion. It is. It did. And then I started to try to learn as much as I could buy any anything free that I saw any kind of anything at all. If it was a local library, learn about Grant. Learn about nonprofits, learn about boards, learn about it. So much stuff available out there or any kind of the, um I took a course on advanced dogfighting that was sponsored by somebody. And, you know, if you get out there, just learn as much as you can, even if you just show up and you take what you need or you meet one person there, that could be a resource or you pick up one fact or I was recently in a leadership animal abuse leadership conference in Baltimore. And, uh so I was able to meet a couple of folks, and I really enjoyed meeting. Learned a lot about a subject that is kind of taboo, which actually is bestiality. And so, just by taking taking the day off, driving up to Baltimore, spending the days this conference and, uh, you you pick up a little bit more knowledge and you add it to your your directory, and then when people call, then you have ah resource for those people And if you don’t provide it, I’ll find out for you. Nice. It sounds like you’ve got that passion out. So now you you stumbled into this. Obviously you had some background and working with rescues and shelters. But where did you go from there? You recognize this need in this, as you called it a 10 block radius, A very small area by by some standards. And yet you’ve turned it into a whole program. Now, yes, it is, I think, because it’s a little manageable that we attend. The 10 square, 10 square miles is number one close. So when there’s a when there’s an issue, um, that I could just get my car and head down there and be down there in about 20 minutes. It’s where I live, uh, in the same county. And, um So I think I could be there quickly, and, um and then I saw the need for because it is a very, you know, lower socioeconomic area. Not a lot of people have cars for transportation, So I tried to think of ways to bring service is to the people instead of the people. Having to come to service is like low cost a neuter clinics or to get a shot or to get a cat carrier or whatever. So in 2010 we organized the first test from the city, and, uh, we got we took a bunch of volunteers and went to the fire department and said, Can we stand in front of the fire department here and put up tents and put up from have people come down and wait about free vaccines? Parvo distemper parable vaccines? Which is really it’s very prevalent in in Camden in the summer because of the, you know, hot weather conditions in the toilets, you know, virus. So it’s very contagious. So we try to get down there in the spring and get off the shots and we give out, give up flea treatments. Every year since 2010 we’re going on now. Our 12 fear against some years we did, too, and every year, outstanding success people stand up for the way started. New people start lining up a 10 and I think last year we even outdid our own. We’ve done up to 400. That’s means animal with their families. Show up we and now we’ve moved from the are friends of the fire Department to a place that is, that is, uh, um, it’s got a fenced yard and it’s got an overhanging some shelter. So because it’s an outside event and now we’re partnering with a hospital. Ah, veterinary hospital. And before I was doing everything, I was raising money to buy all the vaccines and all the flea treatment everything. So now we’re getting ready for our next pat from the city in April, and it’s just a resounding success. Last year we gave out even we collect cat carrier start of the year, and we be about 30 cat carriers to people who don’t even have they show up with their their pasts in their handbag or a pillowcase or, you know, talked under their shirt and, uh, we give out free leashes that we collect throughout the year. And so it’s really, really been a wonderful signature event. That’s a city for us that no, nobody, nobody does. And we just get tons of people and they look forward every year. It’s really cool that you started to have an impact, and now people are really they’re waiting for you right there, waiting to to have that support their appreciative of it. You know, tell tell our listeners a little bit. I mean, what are some of the challenges in Camden That air, you know, different. I guess from an animal perspective that you may give people some perspective, I think I think because because there are so many people challenges and crime challenges that that the infrastructure of you to be the police prosecutor, something like that. They’re very busy, Um, attending to people, issues and crime and drugs and murders. Think the animals come, come kind of laugh. And that’s where we try to, um we try to bring awareness. We try to bring, um, way try to bring Hey, you know, somebody called us about a dog they found dead in a cage last week. There was really nothing. You know, I made a police report. I went down to where the lady lived and somebody had put it there, dropped it off and made a police report. But there’s something is gonna happen. There’s no leave. There’s no. So that’s kind of a challenge is like So what do we do with this poor dog that it was locked in this cage and left there. So there was a dog thrown over one of the, uh, one of the towers last year at this time. And even though there was a witness on everything, it didn’t it didn’t go far. It’s just that those challenges of you know, I illegal breeding in Camden, uh, can’t intentionally breed with the intent to distribute between. You can’t be a backer breeder. So when I find out that they’re doing that people are doing that, I’ll just go and purchase a dog. They don’t know who I am, and then I go in right of plane about him for, uh, doing what cannot be doing. And the last time I did that, that was last November. I purchased a six week old puppy that was really literally weighed less than a pound. And, uh, she was the last of the litter. So had I not taken her, I don’t know where she would have ended up, and that just got adjudicated in. I think may of this year that’s how long it took because you just keep showing up and showing up showing up in the prosecutor’s now what ordinance? That again and the judges. Like what? How many literacy issue? And it’s just because you hear so many other things. And so my solution waas that. Let’s just go and get this mother dog, uh, six. Because she had so many litters and not to say, Your honor, Unreported income, unreported income. And so he did. And so But it was many trips to court, and that was just for 11 Copy that. I thought. So it is challenging is that they’re They’re kind of kind of the bottom of the ladder. And so I think that’s a service that we provide is that people will call us and say, and I don’t know. I don’t have a resource for this. I don’t know this or how do I do this so called me today and said, I need a booster shot for the cat and, uh when where can I go? And I just quickly got on the Internet and said, Well, here’s a place you can go there Doing a low cost vaccine Saturday and one on Monday should okay by some calls. Take one minute. Some calls take a really long time because I get called. I got a call last week, my animal died. Could somebody come and pick it up? I’m just saying that’s not what you do. You know, that’s not what we do. But we told her she could call, and we get calls from my dog. Bit somebody to I don’t want my dog too. Um, my dog is law. Um, we just week, we get all kinds of calls every single day. So each day that I think I’m going to I’m gonna get up. I’m gonna have a schedule. I’m gonna have agenda for the day and get this done. And it never goes the way I thought it would go because there’s always animals are exigent and there’s always somebody that’s calling or emailing or texting. Or you know what we do here? What can we do there? And it’s, um you have to be kind of ready A you know, a moment’s notice. July 4th. I was in Philly picking up a dog that was gonna be euthanized that that evening I got in my car, drove to Philadelphia and picked her up and and got her leg cut off amputated on the next day. And she’s been a great home, and that’s what I did in July 4th. So again, animals don’t know holiday. They don’t know that you’re They don’t know that it’s seven o’clock at night in the pouring rain. All they know is they have no shelter. So and, um, but that’s kind of what we do all the time now. One of things I really loved about your organization is you guys have really expanded these programs to talk to us about some of the different things we mentioned that pets in the city, which sounds like it’s a resounding success. But you didn’t stop there. Well, we’ve also done doghouse project. We started that Ah, few years ago. It is, you know, as long as the dog, a dog, some dog. Um, I have to live outside in Camden, there’s no fenced yards, and so they’re tethered. They need shelter. And so we started a doghouse project that we started with a local, a local fence guy who takes leftover wood from the privacy fences and recycle them into dog houses that we put a little flat on the front to protect them from the wind. And so that was that. We have a few left right now, which will be distributed in the weather coming up now. And we get a lot of calls about dogs, no shelter. We got one last night last night from a different county action. Two counties over. Somebody called There’s a dog chained up. We just had a nor’easter that came through here in Jersey last night. And so I called the police twice and, um, call them, call them again. You calling and calling until somebody goes out, because that area may not have the animal control on after five. So it’s a challenge. You know, all the time that you have to be a private citizen, you have to be very tenacious and keep calling until something gets done. And sometimes people are reluctant to do that or reticent to say something because they don’t want to be ate it all the time. They’re scared. They don’t wanna be involved, so they might give us a call and we’ll go ahead and do it, Get it? Hope we get it done. The doghouse projects for that. That’s really done. A great project that the dogs need to have no shelter out of the elements And so we’ve delivered doghouses to people in Camden. We have had people that moved, wanted to get their dog House is back. Uh, we also had a program that was really great. A few years ago, it was called Lost no more, and we pitched lost no more to a to a ah grand tour. And he gave us money to buy chips. And so we did a program we could like a gunman has a serial number on animal. Have a chip in it. We could trace it back to the last person that had that animal was a tab. Yes, that we did make sure that the that the animal control had had scanners universal scanners on their on their buses Can animals right away. You could quickly so combat them, you know, from the shelter if they were found straight. So that was a really great program. And with the microchip we had left over which we had quite a lot of leftover, we put it into a program in 2016 which is just finishing up called the whole H a l t. Helping animals life today And that Woz, that was something that I have to say nobody ever came up with it. For $8 you could spay or neuter your dog or cat forgetting Cambon, Rabies, distemper, flea treatment, a microchip and a money were pretty candid for your life. That’s that’s amazing. Yeah, that infused revenue into the city. It, um, with a win win for our mission. It was a win win for obviously the animals. And so we had a, uh we were head a grant for 200 to do 200 because we have been really, uh, very fiscally responsible with finding ways to, uh, to get more out of this box, more of that. But we were able to do 70 more animals just finishing up the hold. I think we’re getting our last two dogs done this week. So that will be a program that started off 200 ended up 270 animals that are all chipped. And the people like it because they got a little money where, uh, to go get their life. That’s a really cool idea. I mean, it sounds like you guys have done so many amazing things over the years. I mean, what what does the future look like for New Jersey animal A for animals. Well, we’re still gonna you know, we’re still gonna do our pets from the city. And we’re really being known as a clearinghouse for people again that have problems. We’ve helped people whose dogs have bitten somebody and have them get a lawyer. We’ve helped just I think putting connecting people is really important connecting because they don’t know They don’t know who to call. They don’t. I mean, I’m sure even in your everyday life even didn’t have to do with an animal. You keep calling and calling, and then they tell you to call this number to call that number. And I think by the time they get off, they’ve already hold. And they’re so frustrated and we say, Okay, here’s Here’s how we have to do this. I’m gonna break this problem apart. Have you tried this to join that? And against some of those calls? Take you don’t take quite a bit of time. And, uh, when we’re not trying to, you know, help fight cruelty because our state s P C a is is gone now in New Jersey has to say no longer exists in the state of New Jersey, so police are taking over and prosecutors, and, uh, there’s been a little bit of a gap. But that’s where private citizens, you really need to step up. And if they see if they see cruelty, they need to report it. Sometimes they call us because they don’t know. They don’t know if that is cruelty or who they can call. And, uh, so I think we’re gonna We’re gonna continue doing what we’re doing because it seems toe work. We are very active in, um, working with local. The local resource is an infrastructure in Camden to try to get things done that, uh, that might have been unavailable up to that before this past summer was funny. There was a cat up a tree for about five days. But I don’t want the cat. It was really hot. The Fire department. There’s so many other things to do. And I remember in the beginning of our conversation, I told you, we started off with a city at the Fire Department and we love our fireman. They came out and put the fire truck and the ladder just like you see him you know, a lot of great rescues. They put the track down this little skinny alleyway, and they called a few people when they came over and they got the cat along with the animal control guy, and I made sure that the nature that the fireman got down, I went right over and got some a couple dozen ice cream sandwiches delivered to a firehouse. That’s a great story. Yeah, it sounds like you guys were really passionate about what you do and you’re focused on the City of Camden Way are. But we do get we get requests from, actually all over the state. We get requests from, you know, where do I go here? How do I and something simple? How do I find a little cost? A neuter clinic in North Jersey. So we just put it out there and ask our friends where’s a good place to go? We call the person and say, Sometimes it’s just a matter of Lady said to me the other day when she called Google that she will use Think everybody has Internet. Not all of us have Internet, and she’s right. So not everybody has Internet. Now that Everybody has a laptop number, but he has access to what we think is so typical everyday with our phone. And she needed a couple of phone numbers and I looked him up and gave her a couple phone numbers. And she was. She was very happy to go get her animal six in another part of the state. So we try to be available to anybody that calls. We return all of our phone calls. We like to really pride ourselves that when people say, Well, nobody else has returned my call because I want to I want to surrender my 16 year old blind Conti cat way at least want to call and give her some guidance, or or, you know, at least return a phone call. And I think that’s what we’re proud of that we we were always, um, endeavor to help you. Well, thank you very much, Cathy. I really appreciate you coming on and sharing how you got into this and what you guys they’re doing. Is there anything else you want to share their listeners before we wrap things up? Well, we have our annual bikers for bullies. It’s a it’s a motorcycle poker run that we do every year, and we raise money just abused and abandoned pit bulls like sweet Pea. We have a dog that, uh, we got into rescue that we found in Camden on a garbage dump that was a big dog. And the New Jersey State Assembly has made her the official face of dogfighting awareness for the state of New Jersey, and you could follow her page of a sleepy fund page. So we do. We’ve done every year since 2012. We’ve done a motorcycle poker run. It’s called Bikers for Bullies Police. And we had the name trademarked this year, and that’s gonna be this year to Sunday, June 2nd here in South Jersey City. Finally, Facebook page to, you know, either come and ride or support it somehow. And then, of course, our pets in the city will be in the spring, and we’re always looking for new volunteers. We’re always grateful if I were the charity that you choose to give to. We’re always looking for new advisory board members. Uh, we were lucky that our board of directors is is made up of very wonderful, wonderful folks, and, uh, so if you’re looking to, um, even volunteer virtually. That’s what we’re we’re always looking for because there’s always something to dio at New Jersey. There’s always a problem with an animal that thank you, Cathy, for everything that you do. And thanks for coming on the show today. All right, thanks so much. Thanks for tuning into today’s podcast if you’re not already a member, joined the Air P A. To take advantage of all the resources we have to offer. And don’t forget to sign up with do bert dot com. It’s free and helps automate the most difficult tasks in animal rescue.