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Stray dogs put strain on county shelter's resources

A large volume of stray animals at Kanawha Charleston Humane Association's shelter has stretched resources thin. Now the shelter is asking the public for temporary help housing animals.

Monday evening, the shelter took in more than 30 dogs, putting a severe strain on resources, said Chelsea Staley, a volunteer at the shelter and one of the founders of Dog Bless, a rescue advocacy organization.

Stephanie Gomez, a shelter secretary and kennel attendant, said the facility was holding about 100 animals as of Tuesday afternoon.

The lack of available space has left the shelter in desperate need of foster homes for animals, many of which are waiting to be taken to new homes by other rescues outside West Virginia.

"Having foster homes makes or breaks a rescue," said Staley.

The shelter regularly sends animals to rescues and adoption agencies out of state, helping to alleviate West Virginia's problem with stray animals. Once a dog has been selected for adoption, it is released from the shelter and sent to a local foster home until it can be transported to the new rescue.

Staley said the foster system allows the shelter to free up room for new animals. Dogs stay in foster care a few days to two weeks.

"You're really saving two lives at once," she said.

The animals are often sent to rescues in the Northeast because states there have stricter spay and neuter laws than West Virginia. As a result, there are typically more available homes there as well.

"States in the South are much more overrun than the northeastern states," Staley said.

West Virginia only requires animals adopted from animal shelters to be spayed or neutered. If an animal is not spayed or neutered at adoption, a deposit must be paid. The deposit is refundable upon proof that the animal is spayed or neutered. Violators can be fined up to $250.

The state does not require spaying or neutering in other circumstances.

The result is too many animals, Staley said, and the shelter simply can't keep up.

"We just cannot pull that many," she said. "We can't do it without help."

To serve as a foster home for animals, you first must make sure that any other pets in your home are vaccinated and spayed or neutered. Foster animals must be watched when they are put outside and must be kept inside when you are away.  

Of course, the foster and subsequent rescue programs are not the only things the shelter is doing to try to get its dogs adopted.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, the shelter is participating in an adopt-a-thon at the Southridge Walmart on Corridor G. The store is sponsoring the effort statewide to get at least 2,012 animals adopted in 2012.

The Putnam County Animal Shelter has been working with the Walmart in Hurricane to hold a similar event.

Putnam County Chief Humane Officer Jon Davis said the relationship with Walmart started when the Hurricane store began donating food and cat litter. For the most part, those items were damaged during shipping and were not salable, so the store donated them instead of just throwing them away. Davis said he greatly appreciates that.

"I haven't had to buy [dog food or cat litter] for three years now," he said.

Davis said Hurricane adopt-a-thons held in April and May have resulted in 12 adoptions.

The Putnam County shelter also is full.

"We're at maximum capacity, which is typical this time of year," Davis said. "We have a lot of litters of kittens."

To see animals the Putnam County shelter has available for adoption, visit www.pet

finder.com. Animals for adoption at the Kanawha Charleston Animal Shelter can be seen at www.wvanimalshelter.com.

For information on fostering a dog for the Kanawha Charleston Animal Shelter, email dogblesswv@hotmail.com, visit the Dog Bless Facebook page or call the shelter at 304-342-1576.

Contact writer Matt Murphy at 304-348-4886 or matt.murphy@dailymailwv.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/mrmurphdawg.


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