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Local animal rescue’s annual craft fair benefits cats in need

The foster-based animal rescue covering Monongalia and Preston counties, Homeward Bound West Virginia (HBWV) has its annual Fall Arts, Crafts and Vendor Fair set for 11 a.m.-3 p.m. today at Chestnut Ridge Church, 2223 Cheat Road.

The event promises to be a day filled with seasonal festivities, unique handcrafted items, and, of course, cats.

With 44 vendors in attendance, four food trucks, a multi-prize raffle, and a couple dozen foster cats and kittens, the fair presents an opportunity to kickstart holiday shopping while supporting local artists and a nonprofit organization that places an average of 200 cats in new homes each year.

Vendors will be offering a wide range of products, including home decor, pet treats, crochet items, wood crafts, clothing and jewelry, skin products, candles and baked goods. Food and refreshments will be available from Lemon Lane, Mama T’s Munchies, Prodigal Son Food Trailer and Rollin’ With Momma D.

“The vendor fair is one of my favorite events for Homeward Bound WV. We are able to combine our animal rescue initiatives with the start of the holiday shopping season while also promoting local vendors and their wares,” said HBWV President Jennifer Robbins. “Where else can you spend some time with adorable kittens, enter to win some outstanding raffle prizes, enjoy tasty treats from local food truck vendors and get your Christmas shopping done with one-of-a-kind finds all while supporting a nonprofit animal rescue?”

Supporting HBWV empowers the organization to take in cats in need, provide top-notch housing and medical care and place them in suitable homes. This year the need is particularly critical due to a tough season of feline panleukopenia outbreaks across the county, affecting not only HBWV but other local rescues, shelters and vet clinics.

Feline panleukopenia (FPV) is a highly contagious virus, and often proves fatal for young cats without early rigorous treatment, with mortality rates exceeding 90% in kittens, according to the National Institutes of Health. As there is no specific cure for the illness, treatment typically involves various medications, fluid administration, close monitoring and sometimes emergency hospitalization.

“Homeward Bound WV has been lucky in years past as the prevalence of FPV in our cats has been minimal, but this summer was another story. It seems the entire local area was really hit hard with it this year. Rescues were especially hard hit, I think, because the animals we take in mostly come from unknown or questionable backgrounds with little to no vetting, born to sick moms, or exposure to undesirable nutrition and living conditions,” said Robbins.

This means, despite an existing vaccine for FPV, rescued kittens can arrive with prior exposure to the virus.

“In the case of kitties who have FPV, the treatment can be long-term and expensive. Homeward Bound WV relies on events like the vendor fair so that we can afford to provide top-notch care to our foster kitties.”

A litter of Homeward Bound WV kittens that survived feline panleukopenia virus following rigorous veterinary treatment. (Submitted Photo)

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, monetary donations and adoption fees directly fund the care of foster animals within HBWV. This includes providing the best treatment for illnesses like FPV, as well as routine and emergency veterinary procedures, pet food and supplies, and event coordination.

“Fundraising and community support is how Homeward Bound WV is able to stay active in animal welfare. We have many creative ways in which we raise funds throughout the year with events like the Fall Arts, Crafts and Vendor Fair and the spring Celebrity Bartender event. The funds we raise at our events go directly to the care of our foster animals.” said Robbins.  “Even if someone cannot donate money directly to us, we appreciate their support by merely attending the vendor fair. Allowing us to share what we do and how important animal welfare is to the Morgantown community is an important initiative for us.”

HBWV also uses a corporate sponsorship program, and interested businesses and organizations can email for more information. Stay updated on HBWV’s events, learn about pets available for adoption and donate at or