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We're getting grant monies in now for spay/neuter, trap-release spay neuter and dog adoption help.
Humane Society of Pocahontas County
There is only one animal control shelter for the 900 square miles in Pocahontas
County, West Virginia, along with the Humane Society of Pocahontas County (HSPC), located in the county seat of Marlinton. The Humane Society, organized in 1999, works very closely with the current county-funded shelter. The shelter has a history of taking in more than 7,500 animals a year and, unfortunately has had to euthanize more animals than were adopted, partially due to the geographic area in which they are located.
In June 2009, the County Commission decided to bid out for an animal shelter. Two men who were leasing a large empty factory building won the bid. They provided little financial accountability of county funds, and had no rescue transport networks in place. Many animals were euthanized. Some disappeared. We tried to help them transport animals out for rescue, but many, many times their animals were sick, infecting other healthy cats and dogs, and caused many of our own animals to be rejected by the rescues. We didn't give up; we would take cats from the shelter operators and keep them on our site, getting them healthy, vaccinating and spay/neutering mature animals, so we could transport to rescues or adopt them out into the community. This continued for two years.
In July, 2011, one woman who was very passionate about animals and already operated a small, private no-kill shelter, won the bid from the county to run their shelter. But alas, she could afford only volunteers to help her and was understaffed. Even though she did her best to adopt out or turn most of the animals over to rescue, she was unable to make her dream come true. When the shelter was bid out in 2012, the county sheriff's department decided to staff and operate it on its own, with two county employees dedicated for the shelter, along community volunteers.
The Humane Society of Pocahontas County has always had a foster program, and since 2007 has been able to create a safe haven for cats, purchasing a doublewide trailer with enough rooms for stray and owner-surrender cats to play and socialize while they await adoption. Unfortunately, our dreams of building our own shelter for stray and unwanted dogs and cats has been put on hold. In lieu of this, HSPC has created a network of rescue organizations and transport people to take these animals to cities and states where they will have a chance to be adopted.
Before these animals are transported, they are treated for fleas and worms, spay/neutered and brought up-to-date on shots and rabies so that their adoptions will be imminent upon arrival. Additionally, cats are FeLV tested. When the market crashed in 2008 and the gas prices started to rise, HSPC found it difficult to continue helping the dogs, and worked with animal control at that time, assisting them to set up a way to transport the dogs to rescue. Animal control, which is funded by the county commission and administered by the sheriff's department, was able to spay/neuter and assist on a small scale, helping finding adoptive homes and transporting to rescues out of state.
As noted, the economic difficulties of the past four years have affected all the residents of Pocahontas County, and the dreams of helping so many animals were put aside until a new animal control shelter could be established and more progressive and different people hired to run the shelter. In 2012, this is exactly what happened. The new shelter is ready to assist and help all the animals in Pocahontas County. It is now a shelter that focuses more on the health and well-being of the animal while at the shelter, giving them more ability to be outside in large runs than closed up inside, which would increase the chance of disease.
HSPC is currently working to assist the county shelter to build strong finances through grant writing and creating programs like Trap/Neuter/Spay/Release for feral cats and Targeted Spay/Neuter Programs for owned animals. By creating these programs in a joint effort, HSPC and Animal Control feel that they will be able to control the feral cat population and stimulate the low income residents to spay/neuter their owned pets, assist in keeping them up-to-date on shots and be able to give them the forever home they should have.
Pocahontas County, "Nature's Mountain Playground," is located in the southeastern part of West Virginia on the Virginia border, with the highest average elevation of any county east of the Mississippi River. The county is well known for its state parks and forests which encompass more than 60 percent of the land area. Snowshoe Mountain Resort is a mecca for people from all over the eastern seaboard come to spend their holidays skiing, mountain biking and enjoying the fresh mountain air. It is also the site of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which continually analyzes radio frequencies in outer space. Eight rivers have their headwaters in Pocahontas County. This county was established in the 1800s and has been a vast, yet thriving resort area, deep within one of the 10 federally-funded national forests in the Northeast. This is an area so rich in heritage yet so low in income, high in unemployment (14.9% as of July, 2012 ) and retirees, which tends to set a stage for feral cats and stray animals, because most of the population is not able to spay/neuter their pets and give them proper care. So many unwanted litters of puppies and kittens are turned out and abandoned each year.
Through television, radio, town hall meetings, print advertising, seminars, education in schools, our spay/neuter program, grants, adoption sites and rescue groups, we want to reach most of the families in the county to educate them on responsible pet ownership. Our goal is to drop the euthanization rate to less than 20% – and the majority of those would be the sickly and infirm animals – within two-to-three years. From 2009 to the present, HSPC, through our diligence and current programs, has been able to effect a strong presence in the community. More residents have taken advantage of our spay/neuter and vaccination programs. After evaluating the amount of pets and feral cats, we know that we have just touched a small portion of this population and are now willing to reach further and work harder to see our goal that less than 20% of stray animals would be euthanized. We will continue to work closely with the shelter, as well as other rescue groups, individuals, pet stores, foundations to accomplish our goal. In the past two years we have either rescued, adopted, transported, reunited owners with their animals, and fostered more than 690 animals. We have far exceeded our goals first set In 1999 when we were incorporated of 50-100 a year!