Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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December 9, 2012

Annual shelter drive aims to spread cheer to area’s four-legged friends searching for a home

BLUEFIELD — Donations ranging from toys and towels to food and treats are needed to help local animals in need as the fifth annual Prerogative Shelter Drive kicks off on Monday.

Lisa Williams, director of the Mercer County Animal Shelter, said donations from the shelter drive are always appreciated, but especially needed due to the number of animals at the shelter.

“We have about 160 cats and dogs at our facility, which is designed to hold about 155,” Williams said. “We always need food. We can go through 1,000 pounds of food a day when we have this many animals. I will go and buy about 20 big bags of cat litter, and that will last us about a week-and-a-half.”

In addition to food, Williams said toys and blankets are also greatly appreciated by animals living at the shelter.  

“It makes such a difference to see the animals have not only what they need, but things they enjoy like toys and blankets,” she said. “It helps out everyday to have enough for the animals to eat, to keep them warm and for them to have toys. We strive to make their time at the shelter as good as it can be. We try to give them toys every day, but we have a real shortage of that right now.”

Williams said shelter officials are planning adoption drives later this month to help ease crowded conditions.

“Sometimes, we have a lot of adoptions this time of year and sometimes we don’t,” Williams said. “We are planning an adoption drive and would like to see as many people get involved as we can.”

Sharon Sagety, director of the McDowell County Humane Society, said the economy has had a negative impact on donations to local shelters and rescues.

“The winter months are hard for all rescues because of the high utility bills,” she said. “Donations are down with the downturn in the economy and the loss of coal mining jobs in this area. People are donating less. We operate on donations only, and we have probably 60 cats and 80 dogs right now. We transported out 31 puppies last week and 24 the week before to other rescues. We help as many as we can, but there are so many more that still need help.”

Sagety said donations received during the shelter drive mean a world of difference.

“It’s been such a success the past few years,” she said. “We really appreciate it, and are so thankful to the people who donate. We don’t have many volunteers, and we have many animals, so we always stay busy.”

Debby Smith, director of the Pet Haven Rescue Center in Falls Mills, Va., said the rescue is nearing capacity.

“We have been 70 and 80 animals right now,” she said. “We take in animals from other shelters and only take in a new animal when an animal we have gets adopted out. We only take in what we can afford. We usually have between 60 and 75 animals here, and since we only have so many pens we can only take in about a maximum of 85 animals. We don’t euthanize and we have dogs that have been with us eight years and cats that have been with us for 12 years.”

Smith said donations of food, cleaning supplies and other items help the rescue provide other needed services for the animals in their care.

“We don’t get any state or local funding, so we need things like this shelter drive,” Smith said. “The food donated to us frees up money we can spend on medical bills for the animals. We really appreciate this very much.”

The shelter drive benefits five organizations across the region: the Mercer County Animal Shelter, McDowell County Humane Society, Tazewell County Animal Shelter, Pet Haven Rescue Center and Save-A-Pet Food Bank.

 Donations for the Prerogative Shelter Drive can be delivered to either the Bluefield Daily Telegraph or Princeton Times offices during regular business hours between Monday, Dec. 10 and Friday, Dec. 14. For more information on the shelter drive call 304-327-2800.

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com

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