In celebration of the holidays, the Pocahontas County Animal Shelter hosted an open house Monday, December 21, where members of the community were invited to come and see the shelter and its animals. Santa Claus made a special visit, as well.
In preparation for the open house, shelter staff and volunteers adorned the main lobby and kennels with twinkling lights, stockings, and garlands made from dog treats. A Christmas tree stood in one corner – its base surrounded by bags and carefully wrapped packages – and Santa’s red chair stood to the right of the tree. A table of baked goods, chocolate-coated pretzels and a variety of drink options offered guests the option of enjoying refreshments during their visit.
“We wanted to have members of the community come in and be able to see the shelter and the animals,” shelter manager Robin Robertson said of the event, “and Santa made a special visit for the kids.”
With a variety of cats and dogs housed at the shelter, Robertson stepped away from the holiday gathering and took a moment to visit with the animals.
“We only have five dogs available for adoption right now,” she said. “and there are a couple of others that are waiting to be picked up. It’s wonderful. Deanna Sharp does all of our rescue work for us. When dogs come into the shelter, we keep them on a five-day stray hold, and by the time their hold is up, Deanna has found a place for them to go. Normally, it’s out-of-state to different foster homes and rescues, and she does the transports, as well. She does a wonderful job.”
A friend of Sharp’s, Humane Society president Chip Adkins helps with transports, as well.
“I got involved because I knew Deanna,” he explained. “I’m president of the humane society here in the county, and I’ve been involved with it for a long time. We don’t have a shelter, so we can’t keep animals, but we try to be involved and do everything that we can to help.”
One service the humane society offers is vouchers that help adopters pay for getting their pets spayed or neutered.
“She does it all,” Adkins said of Sharp. “Deanna’s not a part of the shelter, but she does it anyway. She sets the transport up, and then she’ll put it out on Facebook looking for drivers, or she’ll call me. She’s got a lot of people helping her and the shelter.”
Among those who help are the Allegheny and Highland County Humane Societies, located in Virginia.
“Highland County Humane Society is very good, too,” Adkins said. “They’re very close, so they’re able to take animals. They’ve adopted a lot of animals into rescues, and a lot of them go north to the cities – the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. areas. A lot of the people there are very rescue-minded.”
“We have several cats,” Robertson said, “and the Allegheny Humane Society helps us out a lot. If we get overloaded and they’re down in their numbers, they’ll come and take several of ours.”
Robertson – who also serves as a Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Department home confinement officer – began working at the shelter five years ago.
“When I took over, I didn’t have a clue,” she said. “Both the [Pocahontas County] commission and the sheriff’s department are over the shelter. The commission is over the shelter’s finances, and the department is over the shelter. When we first got the shelter, all I could think about was keeping it clean and keeping it from smelling like a shelter. Everything is kind of old here, but we try to keep is as clean as possible.
“I’m usually here on and off every day, but Teresa [Teter] runs the shelter whenever I’m not. Everyone that works here is a volunteer. There have been some volunteers that are here for community service, but we find that they fall in love with it and decide to stay. Sheriff [David] Jonese has made this all possible. If it weren’t for him, none of this would have happened.”
The Pocahontas County Animal Shelter is located in the ARC Building at 300 Second Avenue. The shelter is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays by appointment only, and can be reached at 304-799-4209.