Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

June 8, 2014

Firefighters wash dogs to raise funds for department

GREEN VALLEY — A steady spray of water and soaking wet hair told Little Bit that a little bit of paddling was a good idea. Little legs swam in the air as firefighters got him and other dogs cleaned up for a good cause.

Little Bit’s owner, Betty Blevins of Princeton, held her wet mop of a Maltese and realized she hadn’t brought any towels.

“Do you have any paper towels to wrap him in?” she asked the volunteers at the Green Valley-Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department. Blevins had read about the dog wash in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. Dog owners could get their canines vaccinated as well as washed up. A line of big dogs, little dogs, long dogs and their owners were waiting in line for their time under the hoses.

“He got all his shots, and he’s up to par. And he’s got him a bath until he goes to the poodle parlor. They take his hair off; it’s better for him during the summer” Blevins said while Little Bit was drying off.

Little Bit’s big friend Russell, a German shepherd, was washed, too.

“He’s washed and cleaned up and ready for the day,” Blevins added. “They can enjoy the sunshine more.”

Dogs shook their fur dry after firefighters used hoses that were gentler than the fire hoses they normally use to combat blazes. Bo, a black dog that was adopted at the Mercer County Animal Shelter, shook himself off after a cooling bath.

“He loves water,” said his owner, Mary Campbell of Pocahontas, Va. “He’s got webbed feet, webbed paws. He’s got his own swimming pool.”

“It’s a great deal, and I have so many of them. I don’t want to battle them myself,” she said.

Jessica Thompson, daughter-in-law of Fire Chief Fred Thompson, took pictures of the canine customers while they got a good cleaning up.

“We do pretty good, and it’s unique,” she said, making sure her camera didn’t get wet. “We’ve had a huge line come in.”

Firefighters estimated that more than 60 dogs were brought Saturday to the outdoor dog wash. The event raised money for the fire department’s operations, and gave its members an opportunity to visit with the public, Fred Thompson said.

“We do other things than fight fires and do rescues,” he remarked as another dog was bathed.

Mercer County’s fire fees have not increased for at least 20 years, but volunteer fire departments face rising expenses, he said. For example, a new pumper truck cost $90,000 in 1989, but that price has grown to $265,000; that’s before hoses and other essential equipment are added to it.

Breathing apparatus for one firefighter cost $5,000, Fred Thompson added. The helmet, coat, boots and other gear needed to protect a firefighter battling a blaze bring the price up to $10,000. Even a standard fire helmet has a $200 price tag. Leather fire helmets, which last longer with care, sell for $700 apiece.

In the fire station, veterinarian Dr. Richard Pence was giving dogs their rabies shots and other vaccinations. Most dogs were inoculated before they were bathed.

“They’ve got a really nice turnout,” he said as more dogs and their owners arrived.

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