Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


March 10, 2013

No-kill shelter — Regional approach best solution

A renewed push by a group of well-intended animal advocates to create a no-kill shelter, or to convert the existing Mercer County Animal Shelter into a no-kill facility, is an idea worthy of pursuit. In fact, we can all probably agree on the need for a regional no-kill shelter. But the reality is such a facility will cost money and will require regional support.

Several volunteers in the region have started a Facebook page as part of their push to convert the county shelter into a no-kill facility. Photographs and descriptions of animals available for adoption are posted on the Facebook page. Some photos of dogs are posted along with the days remaining until they may be euthanized.

This in return has led to renewed concerns about animals being put down at the county facility — something which hasn’t happened to date, according to the county commission.

We believe the key to developing a successful no-kill facility will be regional cooperation. We must think bigger than just Bluefield and Princeton. After all, folks from surrounding counties have historically dropped animals off — and often after normal business hours — at the Mercer County shelter.

So a new no-kill facility should be viewed from a regional approach. There are already a few no-kill shelters in the region, but these facilities depend largely upon volunteer support as opposed to government funding. A regional facility would be key.

Municipalities across Mercer County need to step up and help with the creation of a new no-kill facility — provided the existing county shelter can’t become a no-kill facility. The commission itself notes that state code would appear to prohibit a government entity from operating a no-kill shelter. But other localities could help as well with a regional no-kill shelter. Why not solicit help from towns and cities across Mercer County, as well as neighboring counties such as Tazewell, Bland, Giles and even McDowell?

But at the end of the day, we need to look at the bigger picture of getting animals spayed and neutered, and getting those animals who are at the shelter successfully adopted. Volunteers at the county facility are hoping for just that. Numerous animals were adopted during an adoption fair held last December. Adoption fees were first lowered, and then later waived, when Grant’s Supermarket offered to cover the cost.

However, since the completion of that successful adoption drive, the shelter has been operating at capacity, according to newly elected commissioner Gene Buckner. The facility is designed to house approximately 150 dogs and cats.

Buckner says the shelter had not been euthanizing animals because the facility does not have anyone on staff qualified to do it. According to West Virginia State Code, an animal must be held for five days. Photographs of the animals are posted at the Mercer County Courthouse. Pictures of animals that are available for adoption are also posted in local media, including the Daily Telegraph each Sunday.

Buckner says dogs and cats are not automatically euthanized when the five-day period ends.

A no-kill shelter is a wonderful idea, and it is a goal worth fighting for. But it won’t be simple. It will take a lot of work, and regional cooperation, to make this dream a reality. And it will take money.

In the meantime, all responsible pet owners are urged to have their animals spayed and neutered. And if you haven’t adopted a loving cat or dog lately from the animal shelter, please consider doing so. There are so many beautiful animals at the facility who are just waiting to find a new home.


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