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Berkeley Co. Humane Society vigil to honor unwanted animals

August 15, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The eyes of unwanted cats and dogs, kittens and puppies peer out of the kennels at the Berkeley County Humane Society, watching as potential owners walk by.

About half of the animals will be adopted.

Others are not so lucky.

Last year, the humane society euthanized 1,192 of the 2,576 animals that were dropped off at the shelter on W.Va. 9.

To remember the animals that were not adopted, a candlelight vigil is planned for 7:30 p.m. Saturday behind the Martinsburg Mall. Humane society officials also hope to raise at least $2,000 for a spay/neuter fund to try to reduce the number of unwanted kittens and puppies.

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Money raised will help pay for spay or neuter surgery for pets of people who might not be able to afford it, said JoAnn Overington, treasurer of the humane society.

At the vigil, poems will be read and the Rev. Phil Paradine, pastor of Trinity Episcopal Church, will bless pets that people bring.

This is the first such vigil organized. To keep the ceremony from being too somber, the story of an adopted kitten named Miracle will be told.

Of the animals euthanized last year, 188 were cats, 422 were kittens, 275 were dogs and 307 were puppies, Overington said.

Of the 1,342 animals adopted, 246 were dogs, 354 were puppies, 261 were cats and 471 were kittens.

In addition, 15 animals were reclaimed by their owners and 16 went to rescue organizations that specialize in certain breeds.

Healthy animals that are dropped off at the shelter are kept as long as space is available. With 15 dog runs and 30 cat cages, space runs out.

"Something has to be done because the faces of these innocent cats and dogs haunt the staff and make their job agonizingly stressful," Overington wrote in a release announcing the event.

Walking, feeding and talking to the animals sometimes makes staff members feel as if each animal is their own, Overington said.

"It's very hard when you know there aren't enough homes out there," she said.

Many people who drop off animals say they cannot keep them because they're moving. Although some are emotional when they relinquish their pet, others leave it without a glance back, Overington said.

Other reasons people give are that they have too many pets or that they're about to have a baby and don't want the pet, too.

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