Laura Dean Bennett
If you think the Humane Society of Pocahontas County (HSPC) isn’t busy, you are barking up the wrong tree.
“Every dog has its day,” and perhaps that expression may be used to characterize this organization, because HSPC is having a heck of a productive year.
The HSPC board consists of Chip Adkins, Trish McNaull, Elissa Cavender, Michelle Jeffers, Nancy Maddalena, Ken Springer, Vicky Terry and Laura Dean Bennett.
In addition to the board, there are many “Friends of the Humane Society” who pitch in, too.
The HSPC has been “working like dogs” to get as many county animals spayed and neutered as possible, issuing – so far in 2019 – 1,800 spay/neuter vouchers for dogs and cats in the county.
The organization was able to offer so many vouchers because of a West Virginia state matching grant.
“We hope to be awarded this grant again next year, which would make it the third year in a row that we have received this matching grant,” McNaull said.
She writes most of the HSPC grants.
“These funds enable us to offer lower copay vouchers for part of the year,” she added. “But we have to match the spay/neuter grant money with funds of our own, which costs many thousands of dollars.
“So we are still actively fundraising, and I guess we always will be, because our spay/neuter program is perhaps the most important thing we can do to help the pets in Pocahontas County.
“Spaying and neutering helps to reduce the number of unwanted animals being born, and it reduces the strain on our animal shelter. Spaying and neutering dogs and cats also cuts back on cancer and disease.”
Because of the extremely high number of cat litters born this year, the Pocahontas County Animal Shelter has been full since spring.
To alleviate some of the strain, the HSPC facilitated transports or adoptions for more than 60 cats this year.
“We took care of all of these cats at our expense, and in our HSPC building, though this is not something we would normally do,” McNaull explained.
The HSPC also operates a TNR program (trap, neuter and return) for cats – stray/barn cats which some businesses or communities wish to feed and care for, but need help in catching and neutering.
“This is an excellent solution to rodent problems without the use of toxic chemicals,” McNaull said. “But it takes a lot of volunteers to make all this happen.
“We couldn’t do it without the help of a lot of people in the community.”
This year the group applied for and was awarded a grant to initiate a humane education program in Pocahontas County schools.
“We’ll soon be bringing a curriculum focusing on kindness to animals, safety around animals and educational issues about animals to our local schools,” Jeffers said.
“Every classroom in the county will have a unique age/grade appropriate lesson with teacher follow-up.”
But HSPC’s most recent project has been raising funds to purchase pet oxygen mask kits, which cost $65 each – hoping to place three (of different sizes) with each of the county’s seven fire/ emergency stations.
Thanks to donations and sponsorship of kits by local businesses and individuals, the project has been a success and is close to completion.
“We are grateful for the overwhelming support for this important initiative,” McNaull said.
“Our fire and rescue crews will now carry oxygen masks to revive house pets and farm animals in the event of fires, near-drownings, and any other event that requires resuscitation.
“In addition to the many generous individual donations, including a donation made “In memory of Colten [Luikart] #65,” we have a lot of wonderful organizations to thank for their support – Invisible Fence, the Marlinton Woman’s Club, Marlinton Rotary, Mitchell Chevrolet, State Farm Insurance, The Cackling Hens, Locust Hill B&B, Cabin and Pub, and Red Oak Realty.”
The HSPC also has an active Facebook page that offers information, reminders, humor, alerts for lost/found animals, answers to questions and a way for people to donate to the organization.
“We average 15-to-20,000 hits per month, and our posts reach 1,200-to-2,800 people per day,” McNaull said.
“Amazing, isn’t it?
“This year we also established a scholarship through the Greater Greenbrier Valley Foundation for a graduating Pocahontas County High School senior to help with tuition for vet tech education,” McNaull added.
Although the HSPC works to assist the Pocahontas County Animal Shelter whenever they can, it is a completely separate entity.
Unlike the animal shelter, which receives county funding, the HSPC’s funding is derived from private fundraising, donations, grants and bequests.
They have formed the Friends of the Humane Society, a network of volunteers from all over the county who, each in their own way, help support the work of the humane society.
This may entail transporting pets to/from vets, trapping community cats, fostering, donating materials and supplies and outreach within their communities.
“We really appreciate all the help and the generosity of the people of Pocahontas County,” HSPC president Adkins said.
“We couldn’t do what we do without their support.”
But, of course, the organization always needs more help.
Anyone interested in helping this worthy cause may call 304-799-6767. Leave your name and phone number and you will be promptly called back.
This is the same number to call if you need a reduced cost spay/neuter voucher for your pet.
Sometimes it takes a village to keep a healthy, stable pet population.