Tribune-Courier News Editor
BRIENSBURG – With Christmas on the horizon, Marshall County Animal Shelter staff say they’re running at full capacity. But they hope potential pet adopters plan ahead before deciding on giving gifts.
“If they are considering adopting an animal for Christmas, they need to really make sure that is what the person they’re giving to wants,” said Lexie Lamb, the shelter’s licensed veterinary technician. “When they come in we like to counsel people, asking them if they want something inside or outside [to] make sure we’re pairing up the right animal for them. We don’t want a bunch of puppies and kittens adopted out at Christmas and then brought back because it’s not working out.”
Misti Wagner, who specializes in rescues, adoptions, and foster programs, said anyone interested in getting or giving a pet for the holidays shouldn’t wait until the last minute.
“They might want to start now,” Wagner said. “We can’t guarantee what we will have. We can’t hold animals. We have to adopt them out first come, first serve. We do have a lot of puppies and kittens right now, but we can’t guarantee that we will the week before Christmas.”
The shelter will be closed Dec. 23-Dec. 26. The staff is unable to hold pets for prospective adopters.
“The reason we decided not to hold animals is because we were getting burned a lot of times,” Lamb said. “We would hold animals for them and then they would never show up. Then we would have other people come in during that time and really like that animal.”
The missed adoptions are sometimes lost opportunities to connect a pet with a loving home. And it also means the shelter’s limited space remains occupied. The shelter is currently running at capacity.
“That all comes back to so many strays, ” Wagner said. “We’re having an extremely large amount of strays brought in. It would really help us out if pet owners would tag or microchip their pets. We’re doing everything we can to try and post their pictures and get them reclaimed, but we’re not having a lot of luck.”
The shelter has space for 18 dogs and 16 cats, plus additional space for young kittens. Grant monies have been set aside to expand the kennels, but the expansion isn’t likely to take place for several months. In the meantime, a few kennels remain open in case the shelter has to take in animals unexpectedly.
“We always have to have space open for emergencies,” Lamb said. “If the wardens do bring in strays or if someone’s arrested and they have animals, we have to have space ready to go at all times.”
And while some gift givers have the shelter in mind as the answer for what to get, others are looking at it as a place to give. Lamb and Wagner said they recently received a donation in memory of a pet lover who was assisted by the shelter earlier this year.
“We just had a nice donation in memory of Justin Oswalt,” Wagner said. “He was killed in an accident a couple weeks after we reunited him with his dog back in August. His dog went missing, he posted pictures and she ended up here at the shelter.”
Oswalt, of Benton, was reunited with his dog Zoe. He died a few weeks later in September in Nashville, Tenn. Earlier this month, Oswalt’s family presented the shelter with a donation in his honor and a photo of Justin and Zoe.
“He was so grateful for getting his dog back to him, his family– in honor of his birthday Dec. 5– took up donations for the shelter,” Wagner said. “They delivered it to us on his birthday and brought us the picture.”
For others, giving to the shelter can be done through their Angel Tree drive at the Marshall County Co-op. Items purchased and donated at the store go to the shelter. The tree will remain up until sometime around New Year’s Day.
“I went up there yesterday and we had four or five big bags of dog food,” Lamb said. “We have a box where people are putting a lot of toys and treats. We’re pretty excited about that.”