The ultimate goal of Animal Friends of Barbour County is to find "forever homes" for the shelter's cats and dogs, according to organizers of the nonprofit.
Volunteer Carol Talbot said, "The key is that people need to realize it's a forever kind of thing. The animals - cats and dogs - are not temporary. They need to be able to depend on their human companions forever.
"If for some reason, something happens to that human companion, hopefully, the compassion of another human will take over."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Carol Talbot, a volunteer with Animal Friends of Barbour County, holds Jose, a mix-breed beagle and lab puppy available for adoption at the shelter.
Talbot said that for medical reasons or as a result of deaths, some people will be forced to place their pets with Animal Friends of Barbour County. Individuals who find stray or abandoned animals will also choose AFOBC because it is a no-kill shelter, Talbot said.
The older pets, in addition to the younger pets that take shelter at the facility, are adoptable.
"There are so many people that want to adopt kittens and puppies at this time of year, but providing a home to a cat who has wound up at a shelter for some reason - or a dog that has come there - that is an amazing experience," Talbot said. "You're providing comfort and joy to an animal for the rest of their life."
Talbot said many older pets have had successful forever-home stories after their adoptions from AFOBC.
Talbot said she would like a cat named Squeaky, who has been with AFOBC for about a year, to one day be one of those success stories.
Squeaky's human companion was an elderly woman who has since moved into a nursing home and can no longer look after her. Talbot also said that Squeaky suffers from kidney failure and needs a forever home in which to live out her days.
Talbot said the shelter may at any one time have as many as 100 dogs and up to twice as many cats. She said the economy has taken a toll and presented a challenge with the increasing number of animals coming to the facility and the costs to care for all of them.
"It's never-ending," Talbot said. "It's a commitment that is made to these guys to see them all the way through."
Talbot said that there is a current overflow of dogs and that the current shelter facility is not an ideal place to house them all. While kennels at the facility allow many dogs indoor and outdoor access, newly created spaces do not provide the overflow of dogs with an indoor shelter. Talbot said that setup is not what she wants for the dogs.
"It's one thing if we're housing dogs temporarily outside in the spring or the summer. It's another thing now that winter is here."
Talbot said that AFOBC took to Facebook for help and received quick and impressive results.
"The public was wonderful about donating tarps to get the outside pens more secure and warmer," she said. "We put a posting on Facebook, and within hours we had probably 25 tarps donated, and then they just kept coming. The support of the public is wonderful. We would not exist without them."
Talbot said that the economy has made what AFOBC does much more challenging because fewer people are adopting, more people are giving up their pets and more strays are found. The increased number of pets housed at the facility creates an increased need for supplies, food, medical care and volunteers.
"So it kind of creates a backlog, which doesn't mean that we're going to give up what we do," Talbot said. "It just makes it harder and more of a challenge."
Talbot said many members of the public will donate supplies, money or even their time to help AFOBC and the pets that take up residence there while waiting for their forever homes. Talbot said the help is always needed.
More information about volunteering, adopting or contributing can be obtained by calling Talbot at 304-613-8877, or Kim DeLauder at 304-823-3012 or by visiting the facility's Facebook page or website at www.AFOBCWV.org.
Contact Melissa Toothman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.