Dogs still unwanted

October 28, 1998

Second Chance RescueBy DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

INWOOD, W.Va. - Mara Spade said it's not her intention to offend neighbors with the 65 unwanted dogs she cares for on her property.

Concerned about the large number of dogs euthanized in the Eastern Panhandle, Spade started Second Chance Rescue to give the animals another chance.

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Dog pounds in the area give dogs to Spade at no charge. In return, she tries to find homes for the animals.


She keeps the dogs on a fenced, four-acre lot, and at night she puts them in cages in her basement.

Neighbors complain that the dogs bark during the day while Spade is working away from home, but she said that is hard to control.

"I feel with all the lives I'm saving, it's just a trade-off that will have to be," said Spade. "I am very conscientious."

Several homeowners from the Pine Ridge Estates subdivision where Spade lives appeared before the Berkeley County Commission last week to complain about the dogs.

Residents said Spade's operation violates the subdivision's covenants, and they worry about the safety of children in the area should the dogs - which include pit bulls and Rottweilers - get loose.

During last Thursday's commission meeting, County Attorney Norwood Bentley suggested that County Assessor Mearle Spickler withhold Spade's application for a kennel license if it is determined that Second Chance Rescue is violating the subdivision's covenants.

Spickler has referred the issue to the state Tax Commissioner's office for a decision. Spickler said Spade maintains she does not need a kennel license because her operation is tax-exempt.

"I've never dealt with a situation like this," said Spickler, who said it could be January before the state tax department makes a decision.

In the meantime, Spade is considering her options, including moving.

She said a Jefferson County organization that finds homes for potbellied pigs has offered to sell her its property.

Pigs, A Sanctuary Inc., operates southeast of Charles Town, W.Va., along Cave Road, but the owners want to move the operation to a farm in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

"I'd love to sell it to someone who helps animals," said Dale Riffle, who runs the pig rescue operation.

On Tuesday, numerous dogs roamed in a fenced area in front of Spade's house off Sulphur Springs Road about a mile east of Inwood. There were more large dogs inside and others could be heard barking in the back yard.

When the dogs bark or fight, Spade moves them to a different area or reaches for her "silencer," a device that emits a high-pitched sound, to calm the animals.

Spade estimates she has found homes for 638 dogs since she started her work two years ago.

She had lived in the Glenwood Forest subdivision in southern Berkeley County but moved after she claimed someone began poisoning the dogs.

Despite Spade's insistence that she can control the dogs, Berkeley County animal control officer Ray Strine said the situation is out of hand. He said one of the dogs broke Spade's hand when it attacked her.

Spade said the dog, a pit bull, did not bite her. She said she broke her hand when she punched the dog after it started fighting and broke a table in her living room.

Spade said she gets her dogs from pounds in Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson counties in West Virginia and in Virginia. She takes them to Hillside Veterinary Hospital in Charles Town to be spayed or neutered and then takes them home, where she vaccinates them.

Although Spade does not charge people who adopt the dogs, she asks for donations to offset her costs. She said she will not give away Doberman pinschers, Rottweilers or pit bulls unless potential owners can provide a veterinarian's reference and allow her to make follow-up checks on the dogs.

"I need to know people are responsible," said Spade.

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