Going for a walk

PRINCETON — Dogs sitting in kennels while hoping for new homes can’t always get outside for a walk, so some volunteers came out Tuesday morning to the Mercer County Animal Shelter so some canines could get out, burn off some energy and enjoy the fresh air.

A volunteer with the Mercer County Humane Society organized a morning walk for some of the shelter’s dogs after hearing that the shelter was at capacity.

“The summer’s always very busy; and as soon as some animals get adopted, more come in,” Michelle Cole, the WV Second District Congressional District Leader for the Humane Society said Tuesday morning outside the animal shelter.

With the animal shelter at full capacity, it’s hard for the employees to walk the dogs and give them a break from their kennels, Cole said. This makes the dogs even more anxious and leaves them with no outlet for their energy.

“Can you imagine sitting in a cage for months without being able to get out?” Cole asked the volunteers after they arrived. “We encourage to come and walk the dogs and pet cats.”

“We’ve assembled some volunteers to come up and provide (the dogs) with some mental and physical stimulation,” she stated. “We’re hoping this will encourage others to come and volunteer. We’re encouraging responsible pet ownership, and we have $25 vouchers for spaying and neutering.”

This voucher program is designed to help dog and cat owners who can’t afford the spay or neuter procedures. People who are interested in getting a voucher can got on the Mercer County Humane Society’s website or call 304-460-8626.

“It’s just unfair for an animal to be brought into the world and be so unwanted that they have to sit in a cage for several months,” Cole said.

Shelter Director Stacey Harman said more pets arrive as soon as others find new homes.

“I’ve been all kinds of adoption specials,” Harman said while volunteers arrived. “Actually, on Saturday I tried to give them away for free. I waived the fees. And we did 22 adoptions, but by this morning we were full again. I have probably 40 cats and at least 60 dogs, and I have more coming in. I’m sure we will have animal control bringing some in today, and those will be emergencies we have to take.”

Mercer County Commission President Gene Buckner was among the volunteers who came out to walk dogs before the weather became too hot. The county commission has been working on a spay/neuter ordinance. Information gathered during a recent series of public hearings is being considered while the ordinance is being drafted.

“We haven’t even finalize an ordinance,” Buckner said. “We’ve had the open meetings, but we haven’t made any decisions.”

One reason the Mercer County Animal Shelter receives so many animals is the large number of no-kill shelters, Buckner said.

“They send us their overloads,” Buckner stated. “We’re supposed to only take Mercer County animals, but we end up with animals from other counties.”

When dogs and cats from outside the area are brought to the Mercer County shelter and not accepted, they “get dumped down the street,” Buckner said.

Dogs barked as they were brought one-by-one to a side door and offered to a volunteer. Straining at their leashes and panting, the dogs greeted their new friends and were soon being walked to the shelter’s nearby barn and along nearby streets. One, Zeke, was soon running with volunteer Emma Cole. Zeke tend’s to be hyperactive, and he’s been at the shelter since December 2018, according to Patti Owensby with ALIVE Animals Services, a local nonprofit organization. He was soon burning off his energy.

A pit bull named Pablo was straining at his leash and panting eagerly despite the fact he’s missing a hind leg. Owensby said he was run over by a car, but he was “excited and happy” after he returned from a veterinarian.

Sharon Reed of Bland, Va. took Pablo for his walk. One of her friends had invited her to come out Tuesday and help. She was surprised by how fast he could run.

“I didn’t know he didn’t have a leg until I got on the other side of him,” she said.

Children with the Bluefield Parks and Recreation Department’s daycare program arrived to help walk more dogs and give them a chance to play outside.

For information about adopting a dog or cat, contact the Mercer County Animal Shelter at 304-425-2838.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com