Berkeley animal shelters overcrowded

August 30, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Animal cruelty cases are contributing to the need for additional space at the Berkeley County Animal Control Center building.

"Right now we have 14 dogs in the facility with a total of six runs," Animal Control Officer John Wigh told the Berkeley County Commission Thursday. He was accompanied by fellow officer Ray Strine and veterinarian Dr. Robin Townsend in asking for the addition.

"We need an isolation unit at the Animal Control Center," Townsend said after the meeting. He said the county could face a liability if an infectious animal was brought into the shelter and spread a disease to others being housed there.


The biggest problem according to Strine is cruelty cases, where the officers must take in all the animals. He cited one recent example where they took 11 dogs from a brother and sister. It was the third time the woman was cited.

If the cases are not resolved at the magistrate court level, the center can end up holding and caring for animals for long periods of time, Strine said. He added that he would like to see an ordinance setting minimum standards for kennel operators.

Strine said some people keep scores of animals and "can't even support themselves. They keep them stacked in carriers." He said anyone with $10 for the fee can get a kennel license.

In the case of a cat that had to be quarantined at a veterinarian's office until it was destroyed, the bill came to $268. The cat's owner left the area, sticking the county with the bill.

"There's no sense at all in spending $300 to kill a cat," remarked Commissioner Jim Smith.

"The county commission would look favorably on an addition. That would make sense," Smith told them. The commission asked that they return with specific information about the dimensions and cost of the addition.

While the humane society helps out with caring for abused, neglected and abandoned animals, Strine said he would like to "foster out" animals.

He said people could agree to take in animals that have been seized in cruelty cases on the condition that they return them when the cases are resolved.

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