You can still adopt a shelter pet from LUAC — but by appointment only

BUCKHANNON – Despite the closure of multiple businesses due to the novel coronavirus, local animal organizations are staying proactive in efforts to keep the county’s four-legged friends safe and fed.

In March, the Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility closed its doors to the public and volunteers to help flatten the curve – or slow the spread – of COVD-19. To decrease the spread, local volunteers have been restricted from visiting the facility to clean, care for or walk the animals.

However, would-be pet owners can still meet their potential future pets by appointment.

“We’re still taking phone calls. We’re still allowing people, if they get on the website and they say ‘yes I would like to meet this dog. I’m interested in adopting.’ We’re letting them do that by appointment,” Jan Cochran, director of LUAC, told My Buckhannon last week.

However, the facility is prohibiting the public from stopping in to browse or playing with the animals.

With that said, Cochran hasn’t seen an increase in adopted animals being brought back to the shelter, and as of last week, space was still available.

“Our dog catcher is not picking up owner releases unless the person is going into a nursing home or something like that or if the animal is injured and the owner can’t afford vet care,” she said. “If so, [the dog catcher] is going to pick [the animal] up so we can assess it — either put it out of its misery or get some medical attention.”

The animal control officer is still checking on reports of animal abuse and neglect, and if evidence is present, the animal or animals will be pulled.

“The main thing is, you can’t call and say, ‘I want to get rid of my dog today’ and we’re going to take it.’ No we’re not,” Cochran stressed. “You’re going to hold it until [the pandemic] is over because we can’t fill the pound up especially with a lot of the states closing down where they don’t want out-of-staters coming into the state. We’re going to have a harder time transporting dogs out of the state.”

The facility is taking these extra precautions in preventing the shelter from getting to maximum level to lower the chance of euthanization.

“The reason we’re doing this is just so we don’t get full and so we don’t have to euthanize,” Cochran said. “Because we would have no other option because we can’t move the animals.”

Luckily for the area, two local nonprofit organizations working to make sure euthanization is not an option for the animals – and that the furry-ones are safe.

Volunteers with Luv 4 Animals, a 501 (c) 3 rescue that pulls dogs from the county facility and provides transport to rescues and vet care, continue to work from home. Despite the closure of the LUAC, Luv 4 Animal volunteers are persistent in providing transports to rescues and vet appointments if necessary as well as networking with other rescues.

Robin Keough, of Luv 4 Animals, said the group recently bought $175 worth of food and has distributed it to half a dozen families who needed help feeding their pets.

If you’d like to donate or volunteer for Luv 4 Animals, visit the group’s Facebook page listed as Luv 4 Animals.

Samantha Atchison, of Animal Outreach Project, said the pandemic has ‘absolutely’ affected the non-profit’s ability to assist the pet community, as the nonprofit widely focuses on spay-and-neuter procedures.

“Sadly, at this time due to the stay-at-home order and social distancing, our veterinary staff are only being able to do emergency surgeries,” she explained. “We have had to greatly reduce the number of animals we would normally be assisting this time of year.”

Atchison noted AOP will still assist on a case-by-case basis — mainly with cat spays, as the group’s veterinarian feels those procedures are emergent.

Aside from assisting with the costs of vet procedures, AOP also provides animal food for pet owners in need. As of now, Atchison said the group hasn’t seen an increase in pet food needs, but she’s predicting that could change in the future.

“We at AOP are trying to keep our families, and the public safe,” she said. “At this time we are very limited as to what donations are being brought in and how/where we can hand them out/ If you or someone you know needs pet food, we will try to accommodate you with a safe meeting/hand-off location.”

If anyone is interested in donating to AOP, folks can do so by visiting the group’s Facebook page — Animal Outreach Project, Inc. — or by visiting If a person’s pet is in need of an emergency surgery, message the group’s Facebook page for more info.

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