McClure had seen the dog tied up at a residence in Secaucus for some time, growing thinner and thinner. Part of the problem was the fence to the yard in which Bronc was kept. The dog often worked his way through it, then could not get back to reach its water and food, McClure said.
McClure warned the owner. McClure even offered to replace the fence. But when the owner continued to allow the dog to deteriorate, McClure went to court, eventually working out a deal that would allow McClure to take the dog.
"The owner cried," McClure said. "But Bronc is better off."
Over three weeks of care at the Secaucus Animal Shelter, and Bronc has nearly fully recovered. He has recently found a new home with another Secaucus resident.
The dog, which resembles the animal star from "Turner and Hooch" is also the breed featured in the Sherlock Homes novel: "Hounds of the Baskervilles."
But instead of inspiring terror as the novel suggests, the dog seems remarkably affectionate.
"He's a big baby," McClure said.
The population at Secaucus' relatively new animal shelter has reached approximately 90, with 20 adult cats, 30 kittens, 20 dogs and three rabbits. Of the 20 or so dogs held at the shelter, two or three will likely see adoptions shortly, including a white pit bull that currently has no name.
"I don't think it is fair that we should name animals here and then get them confused later when they get adopted," McClure said during his Sunday morning visit to the facility just off Meadowlands Parkway.
Although the pit bull had problems when it first came in a few months ago, the dog has calmed down significantly, responding to gentle treatment.
"When he first came, he didn't bite, but he would grab a hold of my pants and wouldn't let go," McClure said, moving into the cage where the animal lifts its head to get petted. "Now he's a mush."
Adopt an animal, please!
Two years ago, the town of Secaucus - with the help of local developer Hartz Mountain Industries - rebuilt its kennel to create more space and better conditions for animals temporarily living at the facility. The former sewerage pump station was renovated to provide kennels for dogs and cages for cats. During that period, the town continued to make improvements, installing additional outdoor dog runs and other facilities.
This year, thanks to a $7,000 grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the town can install freshwater feeders to the dog runs and additional cages to hold cats.
Although the foundation is best known for its arts grants, its founder also provided for the humane treatment of animals. Though funding is limited, shelters may apply for capital improvement projects. There are three related reasons for Dodge grantmaking in these areas: 1) to diminish the numbers of unwanted cats and dogs; 2) to improve the conditions under which surrendered animals are kept; and 3) to foster the humane treatment of animals.
Geraldine R. Dodge wrote in her will that she hoped the foundation left in her name would make the prevention of cruelty to animals part of its mission. Mrs. Dodge was widely recognized as a breeder and lover of dogs and as the founder of the animal welfare organization St. Hubert's Giralda.
Helps many animals
This particular grant program was started in 1985, said the program's Trenton-based coordinator, Vivian Kiggins, to address companion animal over-population in the state.
"Far too many dogs and cats remain unwanted in New Jersey," she said, "and that translates into an enormous number of having to be euthanized each year."
The organization provides many grants to help sterilize existing animals to cut down future populations of unwanted animals.
"Animal shelters help to improve the situation greatly," Kiggins said, "by expanding their adoption programs and by offering pets that are already sterilized and well-mannered."
"This is the second year we received the grant," said Michael Gonnelli, superintendent of the town's Department of Public Works, under which the shelter operates.
McClure said he has been trying to get the word out to the local community to adopt animals, and that he has come up with several possible ways of promoting adoptions including use of the Internet and the construction of a sign on top of the building.
"There is a train spur being built right behind our building," he said. "Soon the trains will turn down from Harmon Cove and go right past us. Thousands of commuters will pass us every day, and I want them to know we have animals they can adopt."
All of the animals receive shots and are treated humanely.
"Most of the animals we get here don't even come from Secaucus," he said. "They aren't wild. People from other towns leave them off in Secaucus because they don't want them any more."
Some places call Secaucus when they find animals, such as the warehouse in Hoboken that had several kittens. One of these kittens had a problem with its eyes, which McClure is treating.
"We got a call from the warehouse that one of the workers there wants the kitten," McClure said. "I told him he would have to wait until the kitten gets better."