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Local pets need your help this month

By Erin Cleavenger

October is the perfect time to open your heart and your home to a new family member. Every year in October, the American Humane Society and the ASPCA sponsor adopt a shelter pet month to help  animals  housed in shelters to find loving and happy homes.

The Monongalia County Canine Adoption Center is an open-intake, kill shelter which means they will take in any animal from Mon County.

“The only thing you have to show proof of to drop off a dog or cat is Mon County residency,” said Dana Johnson, director of the adoption center.

This means that some animals will be humanely euthanized when space becomes limited.

“In 2020, we had approximately 680 cats come in. Of those cats, 320 had to be euthanized,” Johnson said. “We took in around 450 dogs and 79 were euthanized.”

The animals that are taken in by the shelter come in various ways, including strays, owner surrenders, police removals and quarantines, among others.

The Marion County shelter differs from Mon County because it is a no-kill shelter. This means animals will be put on a waiting list to get in the shelter if there is not room.

“Being a no-kill shelter, we have a limited number of kennels,” said Jonna Spatafore, the shelter director for the Marion County Humane Society. “We average 30 dogs and are usually full and have a waiting list. Currently, we have 22 cats and kittens with a seven-page waiting list.”

In Mon County, anyone interested in adopting should call the shelter to set up a time to come visit the available animals.

“You can call to make an appointment to come look at our pets, and you do have to wear a mask currently,”  Johnson said. “If you pick one out that you like, we will ask you a few questions to make sure it’s a good fit and you take the pet home with you that day.”

If you are adopting a dog from the Mon County Adoption Center, you must first purchase dog tax tags from the County Assessor’s office.

“No dog can leave this county facility without dog tax tags,” Johnson said. “Even if you are picking up your own personal dog that was picked up by the dog warden, you must have the tax tags before the dog can leave the building.”

The Marion County shelter has potential adopters look through pet profiles on its website,  Facebook page, or Petfinder and e-mail them for an application for the specific pet they are interested in. The shelter then processes the application and sets up an appointment for you to meet the animal you are interested in.

Spatafore believes this is actually a better system for their facility and the health and stress levels of the animals.

“We don’t allow people to walk back through our runs any longer,”  Spatafore said. “It’s been known for a long time that that causes a lot of stress for the dogs that are in the shelter, but it was difficult to change things. COVID has allowed us to take the steps to change things, and it’s much better for the animals themselves to do it this way.”

Those who do adopt an animal from any shelter are reminded that there will be an adjustment period for your new pet.

“Give them a chance,” Spatafore said. “While they are at the shelter, their kennel or cage is all that belongs to them. Depending on what situation they came from, this is the best place they have ever been or the worst place they have ever been. So give them a chance, and don’t ever go on first impressions.”

Johnson said adopters should keep in mind the adoption rule of three, “For three days, your new pet is trying to figure out their new home,” she said. “In three weeks, they realize they live with you. And in three months, they feel more confident and feel like part of the family.”

Dogs and cats adopted from Mon County that are of age will be spayed or neutered, vaccinated and flea and worm treated, which is all included in the $85 adoption fee. For additional information call the shelter at 304-291-7267.

The adoption fees for Marion County are $175 for dogs and $75 for cats. All animals of age are spayed or neutered, fully vaccinated, flea and worm treated, and fully vet checked. For additional information, they can be reached at 304-366-5391.

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