Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 5, 2013

Drive to benefit many shelter pets in area

By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Animal shelter workers see the same look in the eyes of dogs and cats every time they pass the kennels and cages. The look says, “love me.”

People who want to share love with homeless dogs and cats are being asked to participate in the annual Prerogative- Bluefield Daily Telegraph shelter drive. Donations of dog and cat food, cat litter, bedding, pet toys, pet treats and cleaning supplies are being accepted until Friday at the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and the Princeton Times.

The McDowell County Humane Society Animal Shelter, Pet Haven at Falls Mills, Va., Save A Pet Food Bank in Bluefield, and the Tazewell County Animal Shelter also benefit from donations. Besides pet food and kitty litter, donations of pet toys, bedding and cleaning supplies are very useful, too.

Director Donna Murphy of the Tazewell County shelter said that besides food, blankets and toys offer the animals comfort.

“Even though we have heated floors, the fact they have a little blanket of their own makes it less stressful,” Murphy said. “A little blankee of their own makes it more animal friendly.”

Toys help relieve the monotony of shelter life.

“A lot of times, that’s all they have,” Murphy said of the donated toys and treats. “They get bored, and it gives them something to focus on.”

More than anything else, the dogs and cats want affection.

“They do sit there and look out the cages with their eyes, and they all look at me with the same expression, ‘love me.’ It’s not only good for the animals, it’s good for the employees to know we can do something special for them.”

Animal shelters depending on donations often cannot purchase extra treats for their dogs and cats.

“We don’t buy the stuff. We can’t afford to buy it,” said Director Debbie Smith of Pet Haven in Falls Mills. “We just can’t afford to buy extra stuff.”

Money saved on pet food can be used to pay veterinarian bills and expenses such as utilities, Smith said. The pet toys help breaks monotony; some dogs and cats have been at Pet Haven for several years.

Previous shelter drives have raised hundreds of pounds worth of pet food and other supplies. The donations help the shelters get through not only the holiday season, but also the first months of the year when contributions fall off.

Director Lisa Williams of the Mercer County Animal Shelter had to think for a moment when asked how many supplies are consumed by dozens of dogs and cats. For example, the shelter gives its cats fresh litter boxes every day. This means using up several large bags every week. Bedding is changed daily along with food bowls to keep the enclosures fresh.

She asked another worker how much dog food is needed.

“We usually use about 100 pounds a day,” Williams estimated. Donations usually decline early in the year.

“January, February, and March are going to be the months when you’re not going to get as many donations,” she added.

John Sidote, a spokesperson for the McDowell County Humane Society Animal Shelter, said donations raised by the Prerogative-Daily Telegraph drive are greatly appreciated.

“If we run out of that food, we have to buy it,” Sidote said. “We operate only off donations.”

The McDowell County Humane Society treats many of the animals it shelters. Of the 35 puppies at the shelter, 17 have mange, but they are on their final treatments and doing well, Sidote said. One dog picked up two months ago is recovering after being hit by a car.

Keeping all of these animals make cleaning supplies a necessity.

“We use bleach extensively,” Sidote said. “And Ivory dish detergent and cat litter. Those are real important necessities.”

Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Princeton Times employees and other volunteers give their time to sort and deliver the shelter drive donations. This is when the animals get to show their appreciation.

“When we deliver the food and we see the cages filled with all these animals, it breaks your heart and you want to take them all home,” Daily Telegraph Editor Samantha Perry said. “But then, usually, we get to give toys to some of the dogs and puppies, and it’s an incredible feeling to watch them play and see their tails wagging. You can tell by the expressions that they’re happy.”

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com