Opening your home to a dog or cat is a commitment that requires lots of thought and consideration. Two local residents who initially didn't think they wanted to make that commitment now say they are truly blessed with their decision to take home a rescued animal from the Randolph County Animal Shelter in Elkins.
Betty Ware Butler, an Elkins native who now lives in Spring Lake, N.C., said she and her husband owned a Siamese cat and a dog, but both died earlier this year.
"We decided not to get another dog because we camp, and it is hard on the dog when we board them," Butler said. "But it was really lonely after losing both of the animals and we decided we needed some fur around here."
Butler said she looked on the Internet and found a beautiful Maine Coon cat.
"I found out the cat was in Elkins, so I called Rich and Kelly at the shelter and asked them to hold her," Butler said. "It was a seven-hour drive to get to Elkins and get her, but it was well worth the trip."
Named Miss Olivia, the cat was a wonderful fit into the Butler's household.
"She is a big girl and she likes to hide from my three-year old granddaughter," Butler said. "The best thing is she follows my husband around just like a dog would do."
Butler said Miss Olivia is a lot of company and fills the void.
"She is a comfort to have around," Butler said. "You can pet her and talk to her. She is a good listener."
Butler has advice for those considering adopting a pet.
"Always adopt from a shelter; don't ever buy a pet," she said. "Shelter animals are good animals, and they appreciate all you do for them. Also, get to know the animal before you adopt. I made sure Miss Olivia was the right pet for me - she came to me before I ever approached her. Animals adopt the human - it is not the reverse."
Butler said to bring along the family when considering adoption.
"If you have kids, bring them with you to see how the animal acts around the children," Butler said. "And don't ever give an animal as a Christmas present."
Butler said she enjoys helping at the Randolph County Animal Shelter.
"Kelly (at the shelter) is so nice," Butler said. "She planted a tree in memory of our dog Sadie that passed this year. There is also a bench in memory of our cat Smokey."
Butler said she had one more piece of advice for those adopting.
"Good grief," Butler said. "Please remember to spay or neuter your animals."
Susan Lipscomb, of Leadmine, has also had wonderful experiences with her adoptions through the Randolph County Animal Shelter.
"We have five dogs, four of which were adopted through the shelter," Lipscomb said. "The first dog we adopted was Nicki. My sister and I got Nicki for my father and grandfather in 2003. My grandmother had just passed and my sister and I decided to get a dog to keep them company."
Lipscomb said they brought the little mixed breed home and gave him a bath.
"When we handed the leash to my grandfather, his eyes lit up," Lipscomb said. "They were such good friends. Now Nicki enjoys riding in the car with my father. He is like a little kid and Nicki gave him a companion and someone to love."
The second dog Lipscomb adopted was not planned.
"In 2006, we were taking toys and treats to the shelter and visiting animals," Lipscomb said. "I asked if they had any small dogs, and the workers at the Randolph County Animal Shelter brought out Maddie, a beagle. We took her for a walk and decided to take her home to foster."
Lipscomb said she called the shelter back on Tuesday and said she had a problem.
"I told Kelly I could not let her go because she was such a sweetheart," Lipscomb said. "We were not looking for another pet, but there she was. I don't know what my life would be like without her."
Lipscomb said in 2011 her daughter Emily saw a puppy on the shelter website and asked to go and take a look.
"I told Emily we could look, but asked her not to get her hopes up," Lipscomb said. "When we arrived, the puppy was on a walk. That is how we ended up with Geno and Meeko. The two dogs were very different but inseparable. Geno treats Meeko like he is his puppy and is very protective."
Lipscomb said all of the shelter dogs are so grateful to have a home, and the animals will please you to keep that home.
"Some people just see negative things with a shelter, but I see the good things they do," Lipscomb said. "It is sad that the animals do not have a home, but when they are in the shelter, they have a roof over their heads, food, water, vaccines and someone to watch over them. The people at the shelter try with all of their heart to make sure and put them in the right home. They are wonderful."
Lipscomb said she does not view the shelter as the end of the road for rescue animals.
"It is the beginning of a new life," Lipscomb said. "Kids come up and walk them and give them lots of attention.
"They work with the timid and shy animals and get them ready for adoption. People help, but more help is always needed."
Lipscomb said her family fostered a puppy in May.
"She was so timid, so we brought her home and she learned to play and have fun," Lipscomb said. "She was adopted by someone through Facebook and she is now the queen of her castle. It was nice to see her get acclimated and then to send her out to a great family for adoption."
Lipscomb said she loves all of her animals and is grateful for all they give her, and is glad she can help them.
"The other night there was a huge storm," Lipscomb said. "Maddie was so frightened and I held her tight, letting her know everything would be okay. All I could think about was that when she was smaller, she was out there alone every night, and how scared she must have been when it stormed and she was all alone. I am so glad that she is here with us, and she will never be alone, scared or unloved ever again."
Additional information about the Randolph County Animal Shelter and adopting pets is available online at www.rchs-pets.org or on Facebook at Randolph County Humane Society of Elkins WV.
The shelter is located at 195 Weese St. Ext. in Elkins and is open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m.
The shelter can be contacted by calling 304-636-7844.
Contact Beth Christian Broschart by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.