Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

July 27, 2013

Abandoned animals still a problem in area

KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

TAZEWELL, Va. — In light of recent abandonment cases, officials with the Tazewell County Animal Shelter want local residents to know there are safe places to take stray or unwanted animals.

Donna Murphy, director of the Tazewell County Animal Shelter, said she and other shelter officials are often brought stray or abandoned animals.

“It does happen on occasion,” she said. “We have been brought animals that were abandoned or running at large. We have people bring in animals they found. If an animal is abandoned or stray, it should be brought directly to the shelter. The law does state all animals that are abandoned should be brought to the shelter.”

Occasionally, Murphy said it does turn out that animals brought into the shelter as abandoned turned out to just be lost.

“Some stray animals have actually left their owners,” she said. “We have had cases where an animal left home to have its babies and then left the babies somewhere. If people don’t take the animals to the shelter, they should at least call the shelter with information on the animal in case someone comes in looking for it.”

Linda Hess of Bluefield, Va., recently rescued a litter of puppies that were abandoned near her home. Hess said the puppies were found Monday in a box that had been placed in a creek off of Bailey Switch Hollow Road.

“My boyfriend as coming home from work and happened to stop there,” she said. “He heard a yelp coming from the water. There were five puppies in a box that had been put in the creek. They were struggling to keep from drowning. One of the five had died before we had gotten to them. We don’t know how long they had been there.”

Hess said they took the puppies to their home in the hopes of nursing the remaining four dogs back to health.

“One of the puppies was suffering from hypothermia,” she said. “We had to wrap him up in a blanket and put him on a heating pad. He was crying and was stiff to the touch. His eyes had crusted over. All of the puppies had worms and we had to feed them through an eyedropper. None of them were old enough to eat dog food yet. We just did what we could to save them.”

Hess said it isn’t uncommon for people to abandon animals in her neighborhood.

“Around here people drop off everything,” she said. “A month ago, someone abandoned two other puppies on the side of the road. People have abandoned chickens on the side of the road. There was a pit bull we found here that was starved to death. Eating made the dog sick and when we took it to the animal shelter they had to put him down because he couldn’t be saved.”

Hess said she finds it disturbing that someone was able to abandoned the puppies in the creek.

“It’s so cruel the way people can be,” she said. “They think they can just dispose of these animals like it’s no big deal.”

Though the Tazewell County Animal Shelter does not have an overnight drop off location, Murphy said the county’s animal control officers are always available to help out with abandoned animals.

“We don’t have a drop off station here, but we do encourage people to call animal control and report stray or abandoned animals,” she said. “They bring in a lot of strays to us. They are very good at what they do and respond very promptly to animal calls. They take care of things very well.”

Murphy said Tazewell County Animal Control can be reached at 276-988-1160.

For now, Hess said she is working to find new homes for the puppies.

“Two of the puppies have been adopted,” she said. “We are working on homes for the other two.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com