Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter Certified by Fear Free Program

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Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter is located at 194 Route 10, East Hanover

EAST HANOVER — Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter promotes the fostering and adoption of rescue dogs and cats, today announced their designation as one of the region’s only Fear Free Shelters.

Abandoned or abused animals that live in close quarters with one another typically express symptoms of fear, anxiety, and stress (FAS). The Fear Free Shelter Program trains staff at animal-care shelters to use specialized techniques and practices which reduce these symptoms in their resident pets, providing a better quality of life in the shelter. With this new training, the staff of Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter is able to provide an even more compassionate and caring environment for the pets in their care. As one of the only fear-free shelters in the region, the animals of Mt. Pleasant animal shelter will be housed in an environment that best meets their emotions and needs.

The certification comes after a period of collaboration between the board of Mt. Pleasant and Dr. Sarah Pizano, animal welfare strategist and author of The Best Practice Playbook for Animal Shelters.

“While our team at the Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter takes pride in the quality of care we provide to our pets, taking part in the fear-free training ensures that all our animals remain both physically and mentally happy, healthy and comfortable throughout their time with us,” said Lorri Caffrey, Interim Executive Director of Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter. “Now that our team at Mt. Pleasant has been certified, we are excited to extend our training to volunteers and foster families.”

In addition to implementing fear-free training, Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter has also named Mary Altomare DVM, as Head Veterinarian. She has been with the shelter since September 2020 and leads a team of veterinary technicians and volunteers specializing in the care and adoption of shelter animals. Dr. Altomare is a longstanding member of the American Veterinary Medical Association and is a community advocate for the welfare of all animals. She also serves as a relief veterinarian/surgeon throughout northern New Jersey and adjunct professor for the Bergen Community College Veterinary Technician program. She has both a small and large animal veterinary education from St. Matthews University with a residency from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor in Environmental Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. 

Mt. Pleasant this week also announced that Taylor Woehle, CVT will join the team as Lead Veterinary Technician, boasting an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Veterinary Technology from Bergen Community College. Working with animals for over seven years, Taylor has vast knowledge in both animal care and leadership. Another graduate of the Bergen Community Colledge Veterinary Technology Program, Kaitlyn Rifici, CVT will also join the team this month. Kaitlyn has over eight years of experience caring for animals with six of them being in an animal shelter.

 “Our vision goes beyond simply providing top-quality care for the Tri-State Area’s soon-to-be-adopted pets,” said Henry Ristuccia, president of Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter Board of Directors. “Mt. Pleasant is committed to being a resource for our community and a leader in animal care. Our foster, volunteer, and hospice programs, along with our new team of committed and experienced veterinarians, are a testament to the ways in which Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter can bring a community together for the common cause of animal welfare.’”

Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter is located at 194 Route 10, East Hanover.