Pet adoptions up this holiday season, but needs still great at WV shelters

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — More people are adopting pets this holiday season compared to last year when shelters were severely strained due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Hannah Jones

At the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, volunteer coordinator Hannah Jones said overcrowding among cats and dogs has leveled off for the most part.

“Our kennels aren’t full-full, but we did just take in some new dogs, so we’re kind of up there,” she told MetroNews.

Jones said their Black Friday adoptions were up this year, but she said they’re still working to recover from pandemic woes including an ongoing staffing shortage.

A big concern this Christmas centers around deceptive offers. State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey released a statement this month warning pet owners to make sure they don’t fall for requested money orders or falsified photos.

Jones said it’s important to make sure you know where your pet is coming from. They aim to provide the most up to date and accurate information.

“We’ll tell them exactly where we know that they’re coming from or if we don’t know where they’re coming from, we always inform them we don’t know that much about them, but this is what we know, this is what we’ve learned and this is how we’ve seen them,” she said.

Fostering has become more popular during the pandemic, especially in early 2020 when many people were working from home. Leah Arevalo, of Charleston, has been taking in pets before that. She found a 10 week old pit bill boxer mix in a Kroger parking and decided to rescue him.

“I was going out to my car and someone is yelling out ‘free puppies’ in the parking lot. There was only one left and I couldn’t not go and ask,” Arevalo said.

As a pet lover, Arevalo said she knows there’s a lot of deceptive offers out there, so people need to be careful who they’re adopting from.

“It makes me sad. Sometimes promotions during these holiday times don’t help out. They get a lot of pets as presents and then they come back not knowing what they really signed on for, so it’s always best to get them checked out,” she said.

While fostering, Jones said, is a way to help elevate stress on shelters, some puppies haven’t received proper training due to canceled in-person classes. It has created high levels of energy the dogs, that are now a year old, have never learned how to control. People who are considering to adopt or buy pets should be ready for the responsibilities including taking them to the vet, feeding, bathing, walking and training them.

At the Putnam County Animal Shelter, donations are being collected for cat and dog food, cat litter, laundry detergent as well as other cleaning supplies.

A majority of new arrivals are stray animals. Jones said they’re a “judgment free” zone and accept animals who cannot be cared for. The goal is to eventually provide them with forever homes.

“We love the thought of them being in the home for the holidays. Just them having the family around getting them socialized, more food and more time to play is great for them,” she said.

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