Raleigh County animal shelter at risk of closure in early 2020

BECKLEY, W.Va. — The Humane Society’s shelter in Raleigh County may be forced to suspend or permanently discontinue its services within a few months, due to its increasingly precarious financial position, according to the facility’s vice-president.

During an interview on MetroNews affiliate WJLS-AM’s “Radio Roundtable,” India Hosch said 2019 has been an especially difficult year for the organization, a non-profit with an annual operating budget of approximately $600,000.

“We’ve gotten over 1,300 animals into our facility, this year. When they come through our door, we have to provide them with vaccines. Every animal that comes through will get a minimum of two vaccines. If they’re puppies or kittens, they’re going to get three vaccines or four vaccines, depending upon which animal it is. We have to provide those ourselves. We do not take them to the vet,” she said.

“Many of the animals that come in, they’ve been hit by cars, they have been abandoned, they have numerous cancerous growths or large tumors or whatever, various anomalies that, apparently, individuals have not been able to handle and have chosen to abandon them. We choose not to judge. What we do is provide care for the animal, and our vets do work with us in the community but that still means that we have a tremendous amount of cost. When you have vetting bills that run close to $200,000 a year, then it’s very difficult to get ahead, as far as paying for your utilities, your maintenance of your building, these types of things. Sometimes, we have to make a choice as far as vetting an animal or paying a utility, and we make the choice to vet the animal. It’s caught up with us.”

For the sake of encouraging adoptions, Hosch said the shelter deliberately keeps fees to a minimum.

“We try to provide the animals at an adoption fee that we feel meets the economy of our community,” she explained. “That means we absorb a lot of cost. We don’t make a profit. Our adoption of our cats is like $85 and the adoption of the dogs runs anywhere from $100 to $150, depending upon the animal and micro-chipping and this type of thing. The cost for those animals, when we do vaccines, when we do various testing, de-worming and get them spayed and neutered, runs at an average of $200 to $250.”

The shelter receives $60,000 annually from the City of Beckley, along with regular contributions from the Raleigh County Commission, which recently donated $53,980 to the organization.

Raleigh County Animal Control works in partnership with the shelter but does not provide monetary assistance for veterinary expenses or for other costs associated with maintaining an animal’s health.

Hosch said ongoing fundraising activities cover approximately 20 percent of the facility’s operating costs.

“We’re talking about a small group of volunteers, board members — there’s six of us on the board– and a group of volunteers that numbers about 15 to 20,” she said.

Hosch estimated the shelter will need an additional $80,000 in donations by the end of the year to remain operational in 2020.

Information about fundraising events, donations and volunteer opportunities is available at hsrcwv.org


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