By Lexi Carder
Water, food, shelter, air and sleep are all essential parts of human life. The same goes for animals. However, animals cannot speak for themselves like humans can and that is where animal rights organizations come in. The Humane Society of Parkersburg is a local one that advocates for the needs of animals in Wood County and the surrounding counties.
“I first heard about the shelter 13 years ago when my mom and I started to volunteer there every Friday and walked the dogs,” kennel technician, Grace Lilly said.
Since 1958, the Humane Society of Parkersburg has been dedicated to the care and protection of animals. They rescue and care for animals in distress, reunite lost pets with their owners and find loving, permanent homes for homeless animals. They also educate people on how to properly care for and respect animals and enforce licensing and other animal ordinances.
According to their website, more than 4,000 animals pass through their doors annually: lost, injured, rescued, neglected, abandoned and surrendered pets alike. Their humane officers conduct hundreds of welfare investigations each year and when they find animals suffering from neglect or cruelty, they fully prosecute to the full extent of the law. In addition to responding to the public’s animal-related complaints and animal ordinance violations, officers pick up dogs running at large in Wood county, these include vicious and injured, stray animals on a twenty-four seven basis.
The Humane Society serves the community by providing a place for the public to surrender an animal that they no longer want or can keep. The reasons for surrendering a pet vary, but without a shelter, many animals would be abandoned to fend for themselves. Sadly, each year they receive hundreds of puppies and kittens who have been abandoned or dumped to fend for themselves already. They make up a large percentage of the animals they receive annually.
“The euthanizing rate has gone down tremendously. About 3,000 animals in the last year came through the shelter and 90 percent either went back to their owners or were rescued, fostered or adopted,” Grace said.
Finding loving homes for unwanted animals is a huge focus of their mission and they strive to do so through local adoptions as well as working with rescue organizations to place animals in areas where overpopulation is under control, outside of the Mid-Ohio Valley region. However, their goal is not to simply find homes for the homeless. They must find responsible and loving forever homes for the animals. Their adoption process, considered exhaustive by some, is intended to assist in finding the right pet for the adopter’s lifestyle so that adoptions last forever and animals are not returned to the shelter or dumped again because they “just didn’t work out.”
“People bring in animals that they claim are strays, especially dogs, and when they leave the animal will freak out and try to jump the counter and get back to them. We then come to find out the animal belonged to them. Just be honest so we can get it fixed and adopted out,” Grace said.
They also provide low-cost spay and neuter services through their SPOT Clinic, which is focused primarily on making spay and neuter services more available and affordable. They provide spay and neuter services to the public as well as other humane organizations and rescues. They offer periodic vaccination clinics to encourage pet owners to take preventative measures for their pets. They also try to help those who may be struggling to care for their pets through the food bank and by providing financially assisted services when targeted grants and funding sources are available.
The Humane Society sponsors WVU Parkersburg’s Pet to Destress event during the week of finals every semester by delivering dogs for students to pet.
The Humane Society has many events coming up, such as a volunteer dog handling and training on Feb. 20 at 5:30 p.m. and a summer camp for children in June and July. If you want to get involved, you can donate from their webpage, volunteer, or provide dogs and cats with water, food, shelter and sleep by applying to become a foster parent.