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Elderly dog among those left at shelter

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - There was no Merry Christmas for Rusty, but shelter officials are still hoping for a Happy New Year.

Rusty is a senior citizen dog that was abandoned by his owner - not what most people consider the perfect new pet. So he's still waiting for a loving retirement home.

"He's in very good health," said Donna Clark, Kanawha Charleston Humane Association director. "His adoption is paid for. But it's hard. No one has inquired about Rusty."

The Labrador mix arrived at the shelter Oct. 22. The person who brought him in said the dog had been wandering in the city. At some point, Rusty must have been loved - he had on a flea collar - but abandoned.

"He needs to go to a retirement home," Clark said. "He needs out of jail."

A slight peppering of gray fur around his muzzle and back are the only signs Rusty isn't a puppy. Tail wagging a mile a minute, the energetic dog greeted a Daily Mail reporter with an inquisitive sniff and without any barking.

Rusty does not have distemper - the scourge that caused shelter employees to appeal to the public to adopt dogs quickly. And while they guess his age by the tartar on his teeth, his actual age is uncertain.

More than 70 dogs found homes over the last few weeks. But not Rusty.

"He's fine. He's been vaccinated twice," Clark said. "He's healthy and there's nothing wrong with him. So we'll wait for that home. He had to have had a family at one time."

Rusty needs an owner who is willing to work with him on his food aggression and he would probably be happiest in a single-pet household.

Four other healthy dogs are also up for adoption - Abe, Rocky, Odie and Moss. Two more are quarantined and being treated with antibiotics.

Clark said the time after the holidays is hard for the shelter even in the best of circumstances.

"It's slowed down very much," she said. "Yesterday wasn't good at all. It's usually slow this time of year. The holidays are over, the kids are going back to school."

Worse, she said, plenty of people drop animals off.

"Unfortunately, what we see are those Christmas presents," she said. "People get them and then they don't want them."

Work is under way to continue disinfecting the shelter to make it disease free for cats and dogs. Clark said hopes that effort will be done by Thursday so the shelter can begin accepting animals again.

Three strays that have been picked up are being temporarily kept in separate quarters to keep them healthy.

The shelter will have a big sell-off of all remaining items in its thrift store so employees can begin using that separate building for animals. The thrift shop is stocked with glassware, knick-knacks, baskets, books and other items that have been donated.

"Everything is really cheap," Clark said. "It's open every Saturday and we do get a lot of good stuff."

She said, "Once it's empty, we're going to look at it to see how cost-effective it would be to use for strays."

In the cat area, the staff is also making a huge effort to eradicate disease and start fresh. There is an appeal to the public for new litter boxes. Ten have been donated, but Clark said the shelter could use 40.

Also, cleaning supplies are still needed - bleach, paper towels and any other items are welcome.

Available dogs, including Rusty, can be viewed on the shelter's Facebook page.

Reporter Dave Boucher contributed to this story.

Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at or 304-348-4832



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