Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

March 24, 2014

Animal shelters ready for spring rush of litters

PRINCETON — Spring brings warmer temperatures and blooming flowers, but it’s also the season when new litters of puppies arrive at local shelters like babies left on doorsteps.

Some area animal shelters did not see a break from the arrival of new puppies. The spring puppy season hasn’t quite arrived at the Mercer County Animal Shelter, but many new puppies came during the winter.

“We haven’t quite seen it yet, but through this whole winter, we’ve seen a big, big intake of puppies,” said Director Lisa Williams of the Mercer County Animal Shelter. “They’ve been coming in all winter long, which is really unusual. If we’ve had a winter like that, I can’t imagine what the spring will be like. We don’t have too many puppies now, but we have a lot of adults.”

Pet owners can help reduce the number of homeless puppies by making sure their dogs are spayed or neutered, she said.

“Please advise people that if they have unneutered males or unspayed females, please keep up with them and know where they’re supposed to be. Don’t let them run in the neighborhood unaltered,” Williams said.

People who cannot afford to have their pets spayed or neutered can contact the animal shelter, which will then put them in touch with a local spay and neuter association, she stated.

In nearby McDowell County, the Humane Society is already seeing a big surge in the number of puppies coming to the shelter. Many of the pups need feeding, vaccinations, worming and other medical care before they can be transported.

“We’re already seeing that, we certainly are,” Director Sharon Sagety said Friday. “In fact, I’ve just brought in 28 since yesterday. They’re from different parts of the county. People call when they have litters and a lot of times they have to wait until we have a transport before we can bring them in.”

More puppies are expected at the shelter soon.

“We sent 24 out and received 28. In two weeks, we plan to do another transport,” Sagety said.

As soon as puppies have been sent to a rescue organization, the puppy rooms are cleaned and disinfected before new young canines are placed in them. Puppies are quarantined for two weeks before they are adopted out, she stated.

“It seems more active this time of year, but, honestly, we’re never without puppies,” Sagety said of the spring puppy season. “Sadly enough, people are not spaying and neutering. That’s why we have an overpopulation. If more people were responsible, we wouldn’t have this problem.”

The puppies that reach the Humane Society are lucky, she said. They receive food and medical treatment that restores their health. Puppies are not offered for adoption until “they are 100 percent healthy.”

“We continue to save as many as we can. One litter of nine was dropped on a mountaintop. They were three months old. People found them and called us, and fostered them for a couple of days. One’s eye was out and it’s going to require surgery. They were very malnourished, and they’re being treated for intestinal parasites. Due to their nutrition being so poor, we’re not going to vaccinate them until it’s improved,” Sagety said. “When people drop them along roadsides and at mountaintops, they are starved and they are injured.”

Not all animal shelters are seeing a surge in puppy litters.

“Actually, I have not,” said Director Donna Murphy of the Tazewell County Animal Shelter.  “In fact, I’ve only taken in five kittens since December, and we really don’t have any puppies, either. So far, we’re not seeing a surge in the puppy population. I’m hoping the message is getting out that spaying and neutering is the answer to a lot of the animal problems in this county. I’m hoping that’s what it is.”

— Contact Greg Jordan at

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