Although its main focus is paying for spaying and neutering procedures, the nonprofit, Animal Outreach Project, also collects items like these to distribute to pets whose owners can't afford supplies.

Animal Outreach Project assists with more than 300 pet surgeries in 2018

BUCKHANNON – For the past four years, a local nonprofit has put time and effort into reducing the number of animals that enter the Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility by assisting in spay-and-neuter procedures.

However, 2018 was the Animal Outreach Project’s most impactful year yet. Through the assistance of grants in 2018, the group went “above and beyond” its expectations, Samantha Atchison, vice president of Animal Outreach Program, recently told My Buckhannon.

According to Atchison, the small group assisted with 319 spay and neuter surgeries in 2018 alone.

“That has definitely increased over the years,” she said. “In 2018, we received the West Virginia Spay and Neuter grant, which made that increase possible.”

Focused primarily on spay-and-neuter assistance, Animal Outreach Project started in 2015, and since then, has assisted hundreds of animals and pet owners through a variety of offerings.

“We also offer a pet supply bank, with food, dog houses, straw, things to help those who have found themselves in a tight spot,” said Samantha Atchison, vice president of the group. “We don’t want to see anyone have to give up those pets, just because they find themselves in what might seem like a hopeless situation.”

AOP also educates folks on the importance of spaying and neutering.

Though the group assisted with a large number of surgeries in the past year, keeping up with the need in the community is always a challenge.

“But fundraising and donations are also a vital part of our group,” she added. “It allows us to also help with vaccinations, emergencies and our pet supply bank.”

Currently, AOP is planning a big fundraiser scheduled for April 13, which if successful, will be the group’s main fundraiser of 2019.

The group of volunteers is planning a bus trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the Cherry Blossom Parade. Atchison says there’s no better way to kick off springtime then seeing some beautiful flowers while helping local animals!

The total fee is $125 and covers bus travel and admittance to the parade. The group is currently accepting $50, nonrefundable deposits and payments through March 1.

Checks should be made out to: Animal Outreach Project, Inc. 137 Blondie McMurry Rd. Buckhannon, WV 26201.

Because the group is rather small with Cristy Lloyd as president and Marcella Garrison as secretary, Atchison said AOP can always use volunteers. Whether it be assistance with fundraising, picking up and delivering donations or just spreading the word, AOP accepts all the help it can get.

“While we are not a rescue, and don’t take in animals, we feel we are still here to offer a very vital need in the community,” she said. “We want to help people keep the pets they have, and realize the importance of spaying and neutering them, therefore reducing the number of unwanted pets finding themselves homeless.”

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