The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 25, 2012

Humane Society launches pet supplies drive

By Tina Alvey
Register-Herald Reporter

LEWISBURG — With its animal shelter filled nearly to capacity, the Greenbrier County Commission is joining forces with the Greenbrier Humane Society (GHS) to launch a pet supplies drive.

Tuesday evening, GHS board President  Judith Walz-Harris an eye-catching color-blocked cardboard box decorated with pictures of animals. Visitors to the county courthouse in Lewisburg will be encouraged to fill the box with such items as dog and cat food, treats, leashes, beds and blankets, Walz-Harris noted.

“You’ll be seeing (similar boxes) all around town,” she promised, saying many area merchants have agreed to participate in the countywide pet supplies drive.

The GHS operates the county’s animal shelter under a $170,000 contract struck earlier this year after months of acrimony between the Commission and the Humane Society.

Anyone dropping off an animal at the shelter must provide proof of Greenbrier County residence, as the facility is largely taxpayer-funded, Walz-Harris stated.

She pointed out there are 122 animals housed at the shelter now. Despite the near-capacity numbers that prompted the current appeal for public support, the total number of unwanted or displaced pets dropped off at the shelter this year is expected to come in below 2,000, Walz-Harris said, a figure far below the 6,000-animal level seen in 2006.

The Humane Society attributes much of the decrease in numbers to the organization’s spay/ neuter program, through which vouchers are given to pet owners, providing a discount on the cost of their pets’ reproductive system surgery.

As of Oct. 18, the GHS’s spay/neuter program had provided vouchers for 525 cats and 433 dogs this year, at a cost of $66,125, Walz-Harris said.

Asked by commissioners if all people receiving vouchers are residents of Greenbrier County, she responded, “We don’t really care. We just want those animals spayed and neutered.”

She explained that the Humane Society raises its own funds to support the voucher system; no taxpayer dollars are involved.

GHS fundraising and community awareness events include golf tournaments, adopt-a-thons and a raffle that boasts a trip to Florida as its prize.

The pet supplies drive represents partnerships with several organizations, including White Sulphur Springs Main Street, which will collect items during an upcoming Third Thursdays event, and Lewisburg’s downtown merchants, whose next First Fridays after Five event will provide discounts to shoppers who donate items to the Humane Society.

Lewisburg businesses participating in the Nov. 2 event include the Greenbrier Valley Visitors Center, the Irish Pub, Plaid Eagle Antiques, Valley Dance Studio, Greenbrier Valley Baking Company and Harmony Ridge Gallery. Shoppers are asked to look for the “Food & Treat Drive” posters in shop windows.

The supplies collected will help to ensure the shelter can continue to care for the substantial number of animals awaiting adoption, according to the GHS.

“Our staff works hard to keep the animals healthy and get them adopted,” Walz-Harris assured the County Commission.

In other business:

— The Commission approved the renewal of the county’s contract with the USDA for a rabies control program that has proven quite effective since being implemented in 2010.

Commissioner Karen Lobban noted, “We’ve almost eradicated rabies in Greenbrier County.”

— The Commission voted to give the Asbury Community Center $5,000 in hotel/motel tax revenue to pay for fuel oil for the facility. Commission President Betty Crookshanks explained that the center is used for musical events on a regular basis and is a historical building, qualifying it for funding under the strict guidelines imposed on bed tax expenditures.

— The Commission also approved the allocation of $3,500 in bed tax funds for work that was recently completed on the courthouse lawn.

— After tabling four agenda items, the Commission recessed until Tuesday at 10 a.m., at which time some of those items — including the hiring of two part-time employees at the 911 center and appointments to various county committees — are expected to come to a vote.

— E-mail: talvey@register-herald.com