Last year in New Jersey more than 33,000 stray dogs were impounded.

Animal shelter data shows 26 percent of these canines were reunited with their owners, but the rest of these dogs — about 25,000 — either were adopted or got euthanized.

Heather Cammisa, the executive director of St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center, said there are several reasons why a dog that’s impounded may not be retrieved by their owner.

She noted some people are irresponsible and “there’s always going to be people who got a puppy and thought they had time and forgot what it meant to have a puppy and they’re no longer able to care for the animal.”

“Also, things happen, people get divorced, people move, crisis strikes families.”

She said in many parts of the state, including Hunterdon County, the percentage of lost dogs reunited with their owners is very high.

"Basically, a dog comes into your building and you should just wait for the phone to ring. There’s someone looking for the dog.”

But in other areas, the reunion rate is much lower.

“We certainly have some geographical differences, a lot of times this can relate to economics.”

Ross Licitra, the executive director of the Monmouth County SPCA, pointed out in some parts of New Jersey “there’s a lot of backyard breeding and there’s an overpopulation of certain breeds of dogs and, unfortunately, the dogs become abandoned or loose.”

He noted if this happens, “The people that originally had them or allowed them to breed are really irresponsible and are not actually out looking for their animals.”

“They have litters of dogs that they can’t control, they wind up either giving them or selling them to other people who may not be the most responsible pet owners.”

Cammisa said people’s awareness about handling pets responsibly has been raised significantly over the years.

She noted in 1984, the first year these types of statistics were recorded, 82,000 dogs and cats were euthanized in New Jersey, while last year the total was 15,000.

“That’s incredible progress,” she said.

She added lost animal reporting format should be improved to get a better understanding of what exactly is going on in what parts of the state.

Cammisa said to cut down on the number of dogs that get lost, animal welfare groups frequently have clinics where ID tags are handed out and micro-chipping is offered.

Licitra noted even if a dog isn’t licensed or wearing a collar, with everybody using social media, if your dog goes missing “you can blast it all over the world and let everybody know you’re looking for your animal.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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