By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Dogs bark vigorously when visitors arrive at the McDowell County Humane Society. Many of them were homeless and too many had suffered abuse before being brought to the haven, but generosity is keeping them fed and giving them modern kennels.
Volunteer labor and a grant from the Ruth Hornbrook Memorial Fund has helped the Humane Society install new welded-frame kennels on new concrete pads for the dogs. Inside the main building, volunteers work to create isolation areas for new arrivals.
Last year, volunteers with the Civilian Conservation Corps helped erect the new kennels and pour the concrete pad for them, said John Sidote, a member of the local Humane Society’s board. He offered a tour of the facility.
The indoor kennels echo with the barks and howls of canines. Some dogs bark warnings while others come close and beg for attention. Others cower and refuse to look visitors in the eye. Outside, more dogs bark from inside their new quarters while a worker sprays them clean. They even have new dog houses.
Sidote points out a German Shepherd recovering from abuse; the former owner had beat him with a hoe. After a moment, Sidote answers his phone; a person is reporting an abused animal, and the caller is referred to the McDowell County Sheriff’s Department.
“Every dog has a story,” Sidote said over the continuous barking. “We try to bring in as many dogs as we can. We try to get all the dogs out, as healthy as possible.”
Besides adoptions, the society works to find new homes for dogs through rescue organizations. During the last two to three years, the society has relocated approximately 1,200 dogs. Some dogs are more difficult to place because they are older.
“We have some dogs that have been here for years,” Sidote said. “We try to take as many dogs as we can, but we can’t take them all.”
The McDowell County Humane Society has approximately 80 dogs including puppies, he said. The facility also houses about 50 cats, but few of them get adopted. There are no rescue organizations that handle cats.
“We are full,” said Sharon Sagety, the shelter’s volunteer director. “We cannot accept any more cats. We probably haven’t adopted out more than three cats recently, and we have beautiful cats.”
AmeriCorps volunteers, who often work with the Boy Scouts, will be visiting the shelter this week to help with more renovations, Sagety said.
Grants help fund structural improvements, but they do not pay for food, pet supplies and daily operations, Sagety said. Those expenses are paid only through donations.
Donations can be sent to P.O. box 714, Welch, WV 24801. The society’s shelter is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.