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Finding a home for the holidays

The West Virginia Rescue Drive is bringing a diverse array of area businesses and organizations together this holiday season for a single objective: Get animals out of shelters and into their forever homes in time for the holidays.

The drive is organized by the staff at The Stick Company. They work with area rescues and shelters to pair participating organizations with a dog or cat, usually one that’s been in the shelter for a while. All that is asked is a post on social media advocating for the animal’s adoption.

You may have already seen some of these posts on your feeds. Starport Arcade and Pub posted on Monday about their outgoing red tabby Henry. Black Diamond Equipment Rental posted about black pit mix Kilo last Friday.

For years, the Stick Company and Stick Tattoos ran a toy drive, Tats4Toy, but this year they reached out to local animal shelters in the hopes of putting on a supply drive.

“They were grateful for the supplies, but they told us that if we really wanted to help, we need to get some of these animals adopted,” said Stick Company President Damian Ferek.

With so much to do around the holidays, Ferek and his colleagues wanted to harness the season’s giving spirit without adding another task to the to-do list. Inspired by the “Clear the Shelters” national campaign in August, they contacted local companies with a simple request: Post an animal in need on your social media.

Stick has been able to get nearly 40 local companies to sponsor animals from half a dozen regional shelters and rescues. Both numbers grow every day as the word continues to spread.

“I had a feeling it would take off but it’s been a very wonderful thing for our organization,” said Animal Friends shelter coordinator Katie Short. “Something as simple as sharing a post can make a big difference.”

“It’s so seamless,” said Operation Welcome Home CEO Brett Simpson. “It doesn’t cost us anything, all we do is spread the word and do what we can to save the animals.”

Operation Welcome Home helps veterans overcome barriers for employment, and is also helping pit mix Oreo find a family to take her home for the holidays.

“We’d love to find a home for this dog,” Simpson said. “Even if it’s not a certified service dog, there’s a lot of good an animal can do for a family, and especially a veteran that needs some companionship.”

Many of the animals that are part of the program have a hard time getting adopted because of their age.

“A lot of people are a little uncertain of the animals’ past, how they were brought up, how they were raised, how they were treated,” Short said.

The Dominion Post-sponsored cat Snickers has been at Animal Friends for 18 months, despite those who have met her saying she is incredibly loving and friendly once she gets over her initial shyness.

“We’re trying to break that stigma and get people thinking about adopting an animal that needs a home, not just a puppy,” Ferek said.

Ferek and his team work to be as efficient with their pairings as possible, and match animals with organizations whose online networks would be most likely to attract serious interest.

“Farmhouse and Rooted by Design both paired with cats because we knew that’s what the owners were into. They have rescued cats themselves before,” Ferek said.

All of the shelters involved are still accepting donations.

“Even if you can’t adopt, people can always donate their time or share a post to help find their home,” Short said.

Anyone interested in adopting one of the sponsored pets-to-be can find them all at or on their preferred organization’s social media. All applicants must still go through the relevant shelter’s adoption process before taking their new friend home.