While the number of stray dogs in Mingo County, West Virginia, is nothing like the dramatic situation in Sochi, Russia, it is still a huge challenge in an area with one animal pound and a small rescue group that runs a no-kill shelter. The group – Save Our Strays (S.O.S.) Animal Shelter – began in 2005 with a handful of individuals concerned about the treatment of dogs and cats in their area, with no functioning animal shelter at that time. Eventually, after an acre of land was donated to the group, a small office trailer was purchased, and outdoor kennels built for dogs that could not be placed into foster. Change happened slowly – local vets began offering reduced rates for medical care, and a county shelter was established with rescue-minded personnel. But the challenges of a significant stray population, low incident of spay/neuter, and cases of neglect and hoarding are tough on their shoe-string budget and limited foster availability.
The situation in which Millicent, above, and several other Chihuahuas were found – alone and starving in a home in which the owner had died – was unfortunately not shocking to rescue volunteers. S.O.S. was able to take many of the dogs, including pregnant moms, into foster, and care for them throughout the birth of their pups. Transport was then arranged to LDCRF, where they all received love and medical care. While many of the pups will not be ready for adoption for 2-3 weeks (sneak peek of Next Door Pups below), Mercy has already been adopted, and super sweet Mozart, who loves to cuddle and be held, and friendly Momma Muzak, are ready to find their new homes. Millicent will be ready when her tiny two pups are weaned.
Things are looking up for S.O.S., and, as Board Member Vicki Lipps says, “It’s kind of nice that something good is finally happening in Mingo County!” Since working with LDCRF and other rescues, the Mingo County Animal Pound has not euthanized any animals since November. The county now offers low cost spay/neuter for adopted dogs, which residents are beginning to take advantage of.
LDCRF has played a big part in changing the situation in Mingo County. We can continue to save more lives by increasing our base of transport volunteers, so that we can bring more animals from the West Virginia area into the LDCRF family. Volunteers drive primarily to either Staunton or Toms Brooks, Virginia, although transport is sometimes needed in other areas, and bring the dogs and cats back to the Lost Dog Ranch or Northern Virginia area. No commitment is required, and you can participate when you are available. For more information or to sign-up to become a transport volunteer, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.