Our History


1972:Wesses - Timeline
A group of concerned citizens meet to discuss formation of animal league as a result of a letter to the editor in the Caldwell Progress. Three months later, the Wessex Animal League (WAWL) is incorporated. WAWL opens an adoption center on Saturdays at Caldwell Community Center in Caldwell.


Preliminary discussions are held with the Montclair Animal Welfare League regarding a possible merger. WAWL begins holding adoption days in a classroom at the Essex County College.


Outgrowing the classroom space, the League rents a storefront at 87 Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell. The Montclair Animal Welfare League and the Wessex Animal Welfare League unite. The merge includes the Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter. The Shelter is a kennel attached to a house on a somewhat rural U.S. Highway 10 next to Rillo’s Restaurant. Negotiations begin with Mr. Rillo to acquire the Shelter’s highway frontage in exchange for the construction of a new facility located at the rear of the property.


construction - Timeline1987:
The Grand Opening of Mt. Pleasant’s new facility takes place on April 26. The Shelter’s first Director is hired. Capital improvements to the new facility are made including roof construction over the exterior dog runs, a concrete floor in the outside exercise pens, and a sewer connection is run to the kennels.




Jared and Betsy Saul see the need for a way for NJ animal organizations to showcase their pets for adoption. They create Petfinder.com and Mt. Pleasant becomes one of the thirteen original organizations to participate.


Twenty-fifth anniversary celebration year. Mt. Pleasant joins the Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey, broadening and strengthening its position in the animal welfare community. Many capital improvement projects are undertaken including the replacement of exterior kennels. Mt. Pleasant joins the computer age.


Mt. Pleasant’s Executive Director joins the Board of the Animal Welfare Federation of New Jersey and capital improvements continue to provide a safe environment for the animals. Mt. Pleasant is the only shelter in the area to participate in the American Humane Association’s Save-a-Sato Project, as well as participating in animal rescues from overcrowded facilities in and around New Jersey. Shelter Enrichment Programs that directly affect the mental and physical health of the animals are created and improved. Standardized temperament testing is implemented for all dogs so that aggressive or unruly behaviors can be identified for trainers, staff and volunteers. Adoption packages expand to include microchipping. A mandatory spay/neuter policy is implemented for all animals, even those as young as eight weeks so as not to contribute to the pet overpopulation problem. The Shelter continues to strive to meet the needs of the community by offering programs and services such as Project SASHA (Safe and Sound Housing for Animals) which works in collaboration with social service agencies to provide free boarding and veterinary care for animals in household crisis situations.



2001:MPAS Screeshot - Old Site2
Mt. Pleasant launches its new website, www.njshelter.org. The shelter hires its first Volunteer Coordinator in an effort to expand its programs and services into the community.


Funding is secured and plans are put into place for an isolation ward to house sick animals. Animal Health Technicians are hired to provide a better quality of care. With the help of grant funding, a full-time dog trainer and evaluator was hired. This individual is responsible for animal temperament assessments and supervising and implementing behavior modification programs.


The Board of Directors splits the Executive Director position into a Shelter Director position to handle overall shelter operations and a Vice President of Development & Marketing to expand and focus on the shelter’s fundraising arm and community outreach. The Volunteer Coordinator’s position is reclassified as Outreach Coordinator to expand the visibility of the shelter in the surrounding communities through offsite events and humane education.


Mt. Pleasant Doggie Academy opens in April to formalize the shelter’s dog training programs for adopters and the dog owning community. DoggieAcademy.org is launched in conjunction with this branding effort.


2007 – 2012:
Route 10 property in front of the shelter is sold and a new building is constructed.  PetSmart store and PetHotel  opens and increases the number of potential adopters coming to the shelter, eventually leading to the increase in the hours the shelter is open to the public.  Mt. Pleasant Doggie Academy is closed due to training available at PetSmart.


Shelter Exterior-Cropped2012:
Mt. Pleasant celebrates 40 years of caring for homeless animals and looks forward to many more years of saving countless lives.