Animal Friends of Barbour County recently constructed a no-kill animal shelter funded by a couple who wish to remain anonymous.
The couple discussed plans to fund a shelter with the organization last year and agreed to pay for the whole project. The couple even paid for the contractors for the project, said Dorothy Hayhurst, president of Animal Friends.
"We opened and started moving the animals," Hayhurst said in a recent interview.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Dorothy Hayhurst, president of Animal Friends of Barbour County, poses recently with Bingo, a male shepherd mix puppy, at the new shelter.
The shelter opened on Christmas Eve on Valley Bend Road between Philippi and Belington, and a grand opening will be scheduled once further landscaping work is complete.
Further ideas for the shelter also are being considered, including widening the road up to the shelter and possibly adding a fenced area large enough for dogs to be taken out and allowed to run around.
Trails through the wooded area surrounding the shelter might be another addition, so volunteers can walk dogs along the trails. Currently, dogs are walked daily on Valley Bend Road.
The new shelter contains special areas for pet nursing, laundry, medicine and pet housing with pens that allow both cats and dogs to come indoors or go outdoors at will into an enclosed exterior area.
Prior to the construction of the shelter, the 3.6-acre property purchased on Valley Bend Road contained a pair of old trailers. Before the organization had the shelter, animals were fostered by volunteers.
"At first we had no place to put them, so we took them to our homes," Hayhurst said.
The organization is still determining whether or not to keep one of the trailers that still sits on the property. The other will be removed or sold. Hayhurst said a buyer might already have been found.
Between Animal Friends' foster program and the housing capacity of the new shelter, Hayhurst and the other volunteers estimate that there are about 80 or more dogs and 125 cats ready for new homes.
"We're down from 250," Donna Smilardo, the volunteer in charge of adoptions and events, said about the number of cats. Smilardo has taken pets to Uniontown, Pa., for adoption events every Saturday for the past three years.
Cats are taken to Uniontown to be adopted every week and dogs are taken once a month. PetSmart, a pet store in the Uniontown area, allows Animal Friends to house some cats in their store for adoption through the week, but because of limited space, it cannot take care of any dogs. Each week, cats that aren't adopted out come back to the shelter.
Before any pets are housed within the shelter, they are tested for their health. The shelter has received pets in many conditions from good to bad and they mostly take on strays. One pet, a white dog named Taz, has been with the organization for two years without finding a home. However, Hayhurst reports that the organization has found homes for thousands of animals since 2002.
"We test all our cats for feline leukemia before we adopt them out because that is contagious to other cats," Hayhurst said. The pets are all tested for infectious diseases before placed together.
The shelter also contains nursery rooms for maternal dogs to care for their puppies in a quieter environment. For now, at least, the nursery rooms are only used for dogs.
To prevent the euthanization of dogs by the county shelter, Animal Friends of Barbour County has reached an agreement with the Barbour County Animal Shelter. The county shelter will notify Animal Friends before euthanization takes place and, as long as space and foster housing restrictions do not prevent it, the new shelter will transfer the dogs scheduled for euthanization to the facility.
Adoption from Animal Friends of Barbour County is interview-based, and interviews can be set up by calling the shelter and scheduling an appointment. All adult cats and dogs are spayed or neutered before adoption. Adult dogs can be adopted for $125 and adult cats for $75. All puppies and kittens can be adopted for $75 with the agreement that the new caretaker for the animal will have the pet spayed or neutered.
Money from adoptions goes to general upkeep of the shelter, including gas to transport animals, food, medicines, having the pets spayed or neutered and paying the utilities.
"We depend on donations from the public," Hayhurst said.
Animal Friends of Barbour County is a private, nonprofit organization run entirely by volunteers dedicated to the care and adoption of homeless cats and dogs. The organization was founded in 2002.
To make a donation or schedule an adoption appointment, anyone interested can call Animal Friends of Barbour County at 304-823-2012.