Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 16, 2012

Area’s homeless animals benefit from generosity of readers

GREEN VALLEY
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BILL ARCHER — The sky above Crumpecker Hill was clear Saturday afternoon, but it appeared like it was raining cats’ and dogs’ food as four area animal shelters and a pet supply pantry benefited from an outpouring of nearly a ton of dog and cat food courtesy of readers of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Princeton Times and Prerogative magazine.

“It’s awesome,” Lisa Williams, director of the Mercer County Animal Shelter said as she helped carry cat food out of the shelter to replenish stores of other local shelters including the Tazewell County Animal Shelter, Pet Haven, the McDowell County Animal Shelter and the Save A Pet Pantry at the Bluefield Union Mission.

“Everyone here is working together to make sure each agency gets what it needs,” Williams said. “It is really a community effort. Everyone is working together for the same purpose — to help pets that have been abandoned. It’s wonderful.”

Samantha Perry organized the inaugural pet food drive in 2008, the same year as the launch of Prerogative magazine. The pet food and supply drive grew during its first three years, dropped off somewhat in 2011 when the Mercer County Animal Shelter was closed due to a quarantine, but the donors returned in force this holiday season.

“This is the most we’ve ever had,” Mike Peak, a trucker who hauls Harley-Davidson motorcycles around for the Cole Harley-Davidson family of dealerships. Peak has transported the donations from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph office to the Mercer County Animal Shelter for the past few years.

“This is incredible!” Perry said, as she turned both of her palms skyward and gazed wide-eyed at the plethora of pet foods, kitty litter, cleaning and bedding supplies that overflowed from inside the shelter to fill the sidewalk in front. “This is the best response we’ve ever had.”

Readers of the three publications donated more than 1,727 pounds of dog and cat food, more than 73 boxes and bags of dog and cat treats, more than 214 dog and cat toys, about 167 pounds of cat litter, 126 bedding items and towels and 26 cleaning supply items.

“First of all, I really have to thank our readers for their generosity of helping our local animal shelters,” Perry said. “We also need to thank the Bluefield Post Office and Muffler World in Princeton for serving as drop-off points for the drive. This is our fifth year, and it’s the best response we’ve had.”

The distribution itself constituted a portrait of cooperation as the agencies worked together to meet each other’s needs. The McDowell County Animal Shelter was well-stocked with cat food, but Pet Haven needed all it could get. Most of the shelters could use large dog food bags, but Save A Pet took the smaller bags.

“This will refill our shelves,” Darlene Little of Save A Pet said as she, Elizabeth MacDonald and Willie Beljan worked to fill a pickup truck with supplies.

“We depend totally on monetary and donations of supplies,” Debbie Smith of Pet Haven said. “We have to do this or we couldn’t keep our doors open. This helps a lot.”

Sharon Sagety, John and Vivian Sidote along with Chuck and Debbie Hammond of the McDowell County Animal Shelter had been in various parts of the region, but returned to Green Valley in time for the distribution.

“I was in Beckley to do a van transport,” Sagety said. “Without this, we can’t survive. It’s a tremendous help. There are so many people who love animals that it gives you hope for the future.”

Larry Nipper, who now serves as a volunteer at the Tazewell County Animal Shelter said that the amount of supplies this year exceeded the donations from the year before. “This really helps us a lot,” Nipper said.

Several volunteers turned out to help speed the distribution and loading. “This is fun!” Greg Jordan, senior writer of the Daily Telegraph said.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com