BUCKHANNON - Every year, approximately 200 abused, abandoned, unwanted or neglected animals in the Upshur County area find permanent, loving homes, thanks to the efforts of Pet Door Rescue, a local nonprofit group.
Pet Door Rescue is a small operation whose members love animals and want to control the overpopulation of homeless animals by raising awareness of the importance of spaying and neutering every pet. Members also provide assistance to pets in need by working to place them in permanent homes.
The small rescue group was established in 2009, when four women who harbor a love of animals - Veronica Crites, Jenna Kelley, Carla Campbell and Veronica Grant - teamed up to provide "the only way out for some," as their motto states.
"We were all doing our own little rescue projects so we decided to come together and form this group," Grant said. "We were blessed to receive nonprofit status. We do not have a president, vice president or board of directors. The four of us work together and are equal in the decisions made on behalf of the group."
The group not only personally places animals; it also assists other people in finding homes for animals they cannot keep for various reasons. Older dogs and adult cats are particularly hard to find homes for, Grant said.
"Older dogs are hard to place, especially if they have a medical problem that requires ongoing medication or treatment," she said. "Adult cats of all ages are very hard to place. Everyone wants the cute, fuzzy kitten, but the sweet lovable adults are not wanted, especially if they are black cats.
"Black cats are usually the last ones to be placed," she added. "They are given a death sentence by the stereotype of being unlucky or spooky."
In reality, however, Grant said potential pet owners are often surprised by how calm and affectionate black cats prove to be.
Despite the obstacles Pet Door Rescue founders face - pets not being spayed/neutered, or people abandoning puppies and kittens along a back road somewhere - the group stages a number of fundraisers every year to finance the efforts.
On Feb. 22, Pet Door Rescue will stage its first Vera Bradley purse bingo, and in April, the group will host an elimination dinner. Other fundraisers include an annual 5K run/walk, a Holiday Fur Ball and a host of pepperoni role sales and bake sales.
Pet Door Rescue does not operate a shelter facility, so all of the group's animals are housed in foster homes. That set-up has its advantages, Kelley said.
"Because we don't have a facility with the overhead and upkeep of a building or property, 100 percent of the money from fundraisers and donations goes toward helping the animals," she said.
"The down side is that we cannot have people stop by and see all the animals at one time. We have to arrange for them to meet them at the foster homes or take the animals to them."
This holiday season, Pet Door Rescue is asking people who want to give pets as gifts to make sure the intended recipient actually wants an animal to love.
"Some may say we are crazy, but we do not encourage adoptions as Christmas gifts," Campbell said. "That's because we want to make sure that our animals are adopted to loving, permanent homes at all times, so we don't do anything differently at Christmas than we'd do at any other time of year. We do not want them returned to us or dumped somewhere because they were given as a gift to someone that really did not want a pet."
Pet Door Rescue members would like to thank pet foster parents, veterinary staff, monetary supporters, businesses, schools, community members and organizations for their continued encouragement and support.
"Please remember the importance of spaying and neutering all pets," Grant said.
To learn more about adopting, go to Pet Door Rescue's Facebook page.
Contact Katie Kuba by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at IMT_Kuba.