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Jefferson animal shelter repaired, reopened

December 13, 1999

Animal Welfare SocietyBy JULIE E. GREENE / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Officials with the Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson County had thought of expanding the animal shelter for years, they just never thought it would happen the way it did.

Four months ago, a car crashed into the front of the shelter on Leetown Pike, just missing the area where the cats are kept.

Animal shelter officials had to rebuild the front, figuring they might as well expand at the same time.

On Saturday the shelter reopened after being closed for about a month during indoor construction, said Managing Director Charlotte Bennett.

"We're glad to have the shelter reopen," said Bennett, hoping to get the word out that the shelter's hours are back to normal.

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The shelter near the Jefferson County Fairgrounds is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday through Saturday.

"We have some real nice animals available for adoption," Bennett said. The shelter has approximately 26 dogs and 16 cats.

During the week of Dec. 20 the shelter will offer certificates to people who want to adopt animals and pick them up after Christmas. The shelter doesn't allow adoptions the week before the holiday to prevent animals from being returned by people who received them as unwanted Christmas gifts.

The shelter's hours will be altered that week so it will be open on Monday, Dec. 20, but closed on Christmas Eve.

The shelter's adoption rate this year is 63 percent compared to 25 to 30 percent nationally, shelter officials said.

Obviously adoptions declined some during construction, but shelter officials hope to get it back to its previous momentum.

At Saturday's open house five cats and four puppies were adopted, said Vice President Jane Tarner.

The high adoption rate and a cooperative spirit with animal owners has enabled the shelter to not euthanize any animals this year because of space restrictions, Tarner and Bennett said.

Those animals that were euthanized were ill or wild, they said.

"Most people are willing to work with you," keeping a pet they want to give up for a few extra days or a week until the shelter can adopt out an animal to make room for the new one, Bennett said.

That cooperative spirit saves animals' lives, she said.

The 300-square-foot addition Minghini's General Contractors Inc. built on the front of the shelter quadrupled the size of the reception area, Bennett said.

The shelter had to take out a loan for the addition, which cost almost $11,000 and included adding a handicap ramp and making the bathrooms handicap-accessible, Bennett said.

The damage from the Aug. 21 accident cost approximately $17,000 to repair and was covered by both parties' insurance, shelter officials said.

Tarner said the shelter will need to organize some fund-raisers to help pay for the addition since the shelter is not a county agency. The nonprofit charity receives its funding from the United Way, membership dues, donations and fund-raisers.

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