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Jefferson animal shelter looks to strike balance of care, cost

April 24, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

LEETOWN, W.Va. - There is room for 30 cats at the Jefferson County Animal Welfare Society, but at times, the number of cats in the shelter has been double that.

There are 10 dog runs, which are designed to hold only one dog apiece.

On most days, there are two dogs per run at the shelter along Leetown Road, and workers are strapped for space, including having enough room to isolate incoming animals to make sure they do not spread diseases to others in the shelter.

"We will have boxes of kittens people will just leave at the back door," shelter Director Theresa Chipley said.

Finances are becoming a challenge, too.

Costs for wages for seven people, animal care and other expenses are outstripping revenue, and last year the shelter ran up a $27,000 deficit, said Jeff Bresee, president of the shelter's board of directors.

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In light of the deficit, Jefferson County Animal Welfare Society officials recently requested $18,000 from the Jefferson County Commission while the commissioners were formulating their upcoming budget.

The commission awarded the shelter $10,000, according to Jefferson County Administrator Leslie Smith.

Regardless, the shelter is pushing ahead with ways to bolster revenues and is looking at ways to stem the number of unwanted pets in the county.

To help offset the deficit, the shelter is increasing its membership fee, starting to charge customers for certain vaccinations and making a push for more donations, Bresee said.

Shelter officials said the nonprofit organization is going to need help caring for unwanted animals in the county as the area's population grows.

Not only will the animal population increase as more people move into the area, but disease among animals will spread as their numbers increase, Chipley said.

"You're going to end up putting down a lot of animals. It's a preventable situation," Chipley said.

Chipley took over as director of the shelter in February, and since then adoptions have more than doubled, Bresee said.

Chipley said she is letting people know about pets available at the shelter by word-of-mouth and radio announcements. The shelter eventually wants to help offer a curriculum through public schools through which students will be taught proper care for all animals, Bresee said.

Jefferson County Commissioner Greg Corliss said he believes helping the society with its operations should be a priority for the county.

Corliss called it a valuable service "that the county ought to be providing. It's just one of those things we're going to have to get used to and do better with."

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