SHEPHERDSTOWN – Last Thursday afternoon, Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson County representatives could be seen at Domino’s Pizza, helping Shepherdstown residents purchase flowers at their annual Mother’s Day Flower Sale. And, next month, on June 4 from 10 am to 2 pm, doglovers and dogs alike will be seen benefitting from some of those funds being put to good use, at the 14th Annual Bark in the Park festival at Jefferson Memorial Park.
Offering animal care educational opportunities, like Bark in the Park, is one of the many ways AWSJC has served local residents, since its founding a little over 70 years ago. The 501c3 organization, which was incorporated in West Virginia on Feb. 7, 1952, has developed a number of programs and services that support the welfare of cats and dogs in Jefferson County over the years, according to AWSJC Vice President Jane Tarner.
“The Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson County celebrated its 70th year of service to the community this past February,” Tarner said. “[When it was] established in 1952, the small membership of AWS, spearheaded by Mabel B. Venable, William S. Venable, WPC Perry, Cora Chambers, Forrest Brown and Harold Hall, was the only organization in the county trying to solve the problem of the acute, unwanted, stray pet population. “
By opening its no-kill shelter, which can accommodate up to 20 dogs and 30 cats, AWSJC has been able to save the lives of many pets and find good families for them to find new homes with.
“In the ’80s, when land on Leetown Pike was deeded to AWS by the Jefferson County Commission, plans were put into play to raise funds and build a shelter. Nancy Rutherford spearheaded the project, “ Tarner said of the shelter, which is located at 23 Poor Farm Road. “With the generosity of the late Ira and Nancy Glackens, of Shepherdstown, and other community donors, the shelter opened its doors in Oct. 1985 on Old Leetown Pike in Kearneysville. This was the first of its kind in the entire county to care for cats, kittens, dogs and puppies, while waiting to be adopted. Prior to that time, the only facility to house homeless and unwanted pets was the county pound, and they only housed adult dogs.
“AWS has given thousands of pets a second chance for a loving home. All pets at our facility are fully vaccinated, tested, micro-chipped and spayed or neutered, prior to adoption, “ Tarner said, mentioning AWSJC works with Jefferson County Animal Control to house puppies they receive and adopt out suitable dogs from them.
One major way AWSJC tries to cut down the number of stray cats and dogs wandering the streets, is through its spay and neuter program. It also helps community members ensure their animals are protected, by regularly hosting rabies clinics in the county.
“The organization established a spay and neuter program (before adoption) many years before it became a state law, helping to decrease the number of homeless animals. AWS also gives out spay and neuter coupons to help defray the cost for those in need, and to help cat rescue groups who trap and spay or neuter stray cats, “ Tarner said, before mentioning a couple of the organization’s other notable initiatives. “If there is room, AWS works with other rescues to bring animals to the shelter for adoption and helps veterans and Jefferson County Community Ministries by providing temporary foster care for pets of those hospitalized, homeless or in rehabilitation.
“As with any facility, the work is never done and improvements and repairs are always needed, to help the staff care for the animals and to make the shelter as comfortable as possible for the pets waiting for new homes,” Tarner said, welcoming community assistance via donations and volunteer work.
Visit www.awsjc.org to view all the pets waiting for homes at the shelter, as well as to keep up-to-date with the organization’s event dates.