Rescue Ridge fundraiser will help save dogs, cats

BY AMY ROSEN Staff Writer

Man’s best friend can be counted on to provide unconditional love, affection and devotion with no strings attached. All he requires in return is some of the above, plus food, exercise and maybe a hearty belly rub now and then.

Sometimes, through no fault of their own, dogs and cats end up in shelters, condemned to be euthanized because there is no longer anyone to care for them. That is when Rescue Ridge steps in.

Rescue Ridge is a nonprofit, no-kill animal rescue group with volunteers hailing from towns throughout central New Jersey. Founded in 2001, Rescue Ridge rescues hundreds of dogs and cats every year and is dedicated to providing a safe haven, veterinary attention and love until the animals are placed in forever homes.

Rescue Ridge also assists animals that have been abandoned and found roaming the streets or have been surrendered by their owners. The organization can also help find a new home for a pet while the animal continues to live with its present owner.

This helps reduce the stress on the pet and allows the owner to be involved in the adoption process.

Funded entirely through donations and fundraising efforts, Rescue Ridge depends on volunteers to provide care such as socializing, retraining, grooming, walking and transporting to veterinary appointments, in addition to developing adoption events and fundraisers and facilitating the adoption process.

Rescue Ridge hosts many fundraisers throughout the year, such as tea parties, bowling events, dog walks and ice cream socials, in order to raise funds to cover all expenses associated with caring for the animals, including medical expenses, when needed, while the pets are in foster care. The organization is always looking for foster homes and sponsors for these orphans.

One of Rescue Ridge’s largest fundraisers will be held 3-7 p.m. May 22 at the Headliner, 1401 Route 35 south, Neptune. Rescue Ridge’s fourth annual “BBQ, Baskets and Beach Ball Bash” will feature a gift auction, grill and buffet, bar, music and more at a cost of $25 per adult and $10 per child. All ticket sales will go directly to care for the animals.

Maureen Bedard, of Eatontown, a Rescue Ridge volunteer, has organized the fundraiser for four years with Rescue Ridge president Marybeth Tkach of Point Pleasant. This year Kelly Erickson of Sea Girt is helping her.

Bedard has a unique quest and focuses on rescuing senior dogs that still have years ahead of them, but are not as likely to be adopted as younger dogs. She said her quest to help senior dogs began in 2007 when she fell in love with a 15-year-old German shepherd named Mercedes who had been housed at the Monmouth County SPCA.

Mercedes was a cruelty case found in a feces-covered tiny basement room with another dog. Rescue Ridge took care of him, treated his arthritis and mange, and found a loving family to adopt him, where he enjoyed what were quite possibly the best two years of his life.

“Mercedes was a phenomenal dog,” said Bedard. “Seniors to me are the ones that need help. It really breaks my heart when I see them lying on the floors in the shelters. Fortunately, there are a lot of good people in the area who help us. Our medical expenses are outrageous, and that is where we need help.”

Although several local veterinarians and animal hospitals offer discounted rates for services rendered to Rescue Ridge orphans, the expenses add up.

No animal is ever refused by Rescue Ridge because of breed, age, health or behavior issues. Any special needs, medical or behavior issues are addressed prior to being placed for adoption. All animals are spayed, neutered and up to date on routine shots.

In addition to foster homes, some of Rescue Ridge’s animals are temporarily boarded at local farms and kennels in the Howell, Shrewsbury, Freehold, Matawan, Aberdeen and Farmingdale areas.

Debbie and Mark Efron, of Manalapan, are currently fostering a senior dog named Tumba whose owner surrendered him to a shelter in Philadelphia because he was too old. Bedard rescued Tumba one day before he was to have been euthanized. Tumba had pneumonia and was in heart failure. After receiving treatment for eight days in an animal hospital, Tumba was doing much better, but still had pneumonia. Since he could not be with other dogs, the Efrons, whose dog Taylor died last year, took Tumba in and nursed him back to health.

Debbie said, “It is just amazing that this 13-year-old who laid on a blanket and would not wag his tail when he came to this house six weeks ago is now full of life, plays fetch and runs around like a puppy. People can’t believe he is 13. He wags his tail continuously, wants belly rubs and is so happy all the time. It’s amazing how some good care and love can make a difference. It’s a very uplifting and rewarding experience.”

As for Bedard, Efron said, “People have dedicated their lives to animal rescue, but it takes a special insight and love to be able to see that there is still life left in a special needs/senior animal. Maureen gives throwaway dogs a second chance at life.”

To help Rescue Ridge, call 732-681- 3450 or send an email to rescueridgeshelter@ For photographs of pets available for adoption and event listings, visit