This dog and many other animals at the Lewis Upshur Animal Control Facility are in dire need of loving homes now. / (All photos taken Wednesday by Monica Zalaznik)

Unprecedented number of owner surrenders spur maximum capacity emergency at Lewis-Upshur animal facility

BUCKHANNON – The Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility is at maximum capacity due to an unprecedented number of owner surrenders.

Jan Cochran, director of the Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility, said the bi-county facility only has one available cage as of the time of writing this article.

“We don’t use our overflows in the winter because it’s too cold, but every day we get more owner surrenders, and we’re telling owners that those animals are the first to be euthanized for space,” Cochran said. “We have to have room for dogs the county animal control officer brings in, so owner-surrenders are always the first to be considered for euthanasia.”

Cochran said all the animals who can share a cage already are, and she urged residents planning to surrender their pets to either reconsider or keep their animals for at least a week or two.

“We had one lady come in, and she’s having a baby, so she’s getting rid of her dogs,” she said. “Some people have said it’s the economy, and they’re having to choose between feeding themselves and feeding their animal. Then, there’s just the regulars who get a new dog, and then they bring in their old dog and six months later, we’ll see them again with another dog.”

All the no-kill rescue shelters LUAC typically partners with are also full, and adoptions are down everywhere.

“They keep telling me in all the years they have been in business, they have never seen it this bad,” Cochran said. “I’ve been here 21 years, and I’ve never seen it this bad – I’ve never seen this many owner-surrenders.”

On Monday alone, 17 dogs were surrendered to LUAC, including 10 puppies and their mother.

“Luckily, Robin (Keough) with LUV 4 Animals took the puppies and the mom, but people need to think of their life situation and whether an animal fits into their life,” Cochran said. “Sometimes you think something is a good idea because you’re thinking with your heart, not your head, and then a week later, you realize this wasn’t such a good idea.”

“Getting an animal should not be something you just do on a whim,” she emphasized.

Cochran recommended researching breeds that fit different lifestyles and evaluating your living situation.

“Do you rent? Are you going to continue to rent and move somewhere else? A lot of rentals don’t allow pets, but a lot of people don’t consider these things, so we need more responsible pet owners, and people need to spay and neuter their pets,” Cochran said.

Right now, LUAC needs more collars, leashes, cat carriers, flea treatments, meat-based dog treats and cleaning supplies such as bleach or bleach wipes.

“A lot of people adopt and don’t think to bring a collar or leash, or they assume the dog already has a collar,” Cochran said. “We do not need any toys; we are always in need of the meaty treats because it helps volunteers when they’re out walking them and training them.”

People can also help by sponsoring an animal at LUAC so the animal can get fixed, making it easier to get them adopted.  

“They can call, and we’ll tell them how they can do that — they can call directly to the clinic that we’re going to take the animal to and pay them, or they can write a check, which helps immensely,” Cochran said. Contact information and details on all of LUAC’s animals can be found on their website.

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