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Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility director gives run-down on facility’s daily operations, recent numbers

BUCKHANNON – The Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility housed 436 dogs and 316 cats in 2020, slightly lower numbers than in recent years.

Jan Cochran, director of LUAC, detailed the inner workings of the facility during the Aug. 3 Rotary Club of Buckhannon-Upshur meeting. She explained who her bosses are and what responsibilities she carries out on a routine basis. Cochran also briefed Rotary members on numerical trends over the past couple years.

“I have been doing my job for 19 years and I love my job,” Cochran said. “I report directly to the county commissioners, so if there’s any problems here at the shelter, I go to Upshur County Commission and on occasion, I have to report to Lewis County. Monthly, I turn in a cat report, a dog report and a mileage report. Weekly, I turn in invoices for anything we spend at the vet’s office and supplies that we order.”

Cochran said the shelter tries to never take in more than 32 dogs or 40 cats at one time.

“In 2018, we brought 576 dogs into the shelter from [the animal control officer] and that is also from residents, and of the 576 we brought in, we euthanized 18, and 14 of those were owner-requested,” Cochran said. “If you live in Upshur or Lewis County and you cannot afford to put your animal sleep, you can come up here and turn your dog into us, and we will euthanize it, but we cannot let you have the body back. We can’t let you be with us [during the process] because of liability, and then we’ll dispose of the body.”

She said they also sent 299 dogs to rescues in 2018 and had 13 quarantine cases.

“A quarantine happens when a dog bites and the owners don’t have a place to quarantine their own dog so it’s not around other animals or the public,” Cochran said. “We charge owners $5 a day, and the dog spends 10 days with us, and after the 10 days, the owner can pick their dog up, but some choose not to pick their dog back up because they’re afraid it might bite again.”

In those cases, if the dog’s owner lives in Lewis County, the shelter euthanizes the dog; however, Upshur County dogs are euthanized on a case-by-case basis.

She said it seemed like traffic into the shelter slowed down in 2020 because of the pandemic.

“In 2020, we took in 436 dogs, and we euthanized 13 — and all of those were owner-requests,” Cochran said. “We adopted out 147, we had 90 owner-claims, and we sent 185 to rescues, and we had 19 quarantines.”

In 2018, they saw 490 cats brought to the shelter with seven owner-claims, 157 sent to no-kill animal rescue shelters and 207 euthanized.

Cochran said cats are euthanized at a much higher rate than canines.

“Our cat euthanasia is way higher than our dogs — cats multiply like rabbits — so instead of just having one to two litters a year, they’re having about five litters a year,” Cochran said. “It just seems like there’s more dog people or something because we just don’t get the traffic for the cats that we would like to, but I really believe this year we have seen a lot more adoptions. I cannot wait to see our numbers at the end of the year.”

In 2020, they brought in 316 cats, four of whom were owner-claimed; 127 of whom were adopted, and 140 of whom went to rescues. Ninety-two cats were euthanized at LUAC last year.

To stave off as many contagious health issues as possible, the Upshur County Commission permits LUAC to purchase vaccines, flea treatments and more.

“The county allows us to buy vaccines now, and we found wormer so we vaccinate everything that comes into the shelter,” Cochran said. “We also worm everything that comes into the shelter, and then we’re fortunate enough that we easily have enough volunteers who want to do something for the shelter, but they don’t have time to volunteer, so they donate free treatments.”

In addition to donations, year-round fundraisers support efforts to buy flea treatments for any animal that is dropped off or otherwise finds its way to LUAC.

Cochran said when stray pets come to the shelter, the owner has five days to pick up the animal before they are put up for adoption.

“By law, we have to hold it five days to give the owner a chance to claim their pet, and then they have to pay $30 to the shelter, which offsets the money we had to spend to feed the animal and take care of it while it was here,” Cochran said. “After five days, if the owner does not pick up the animal, then we can adopt that animal out, send it to a rescue or the animal could be euthanized.”

Adoption fees at the shelter are $70 for a dog and $60 for a cat, and the shelter will give the adopter a $50 voucher that is good at 10 different veterinarian clinics to go toward a spay or neuter procedure. If the animal is already fixed, it’s $15 per cat and $30 per dog.

Animals up for adoption and strays can be viewed on their website here, and volunteer groups like LUV 4 Animals and Claws & Whiskers Rescue Foundation work with LUAC, often posting photos of local animals in need of fur-ever homes. LUAC is located on Mud Lick Road off the Old Weston Road.

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