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Fayette Animal Shelter At Odds With County Commission Over Policy, Budget

Dog at the New River Humane Society/Fayette County Animal Control Center.
Courtesy New River Humane Society.
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Dog at the New River Humane Society/Fayette County Animal Control Center.

Earlier this year, the New River Humane Society/Fayette County Animal Control Center (NRHS) requested $210,000 from the Fayette County Commission. In March the Commission allocated $181,000, which members of the NRHS say isn’t enough.

“We believe there is money in the [Fayette County] budget, absolutely,” said Kathleen Gerencer, who’s been the President of the NRHS since 2018.

“I don't think that they realized what a significant impact we are on the community,” said Aleah Denny, a member of the NRHS board of directors. “And I don't think that they realize how important animal control is for the growth of Fayette County.”

Thomas Luisos is one of three commissioners in Fayette County. He said the main reason the commission didn’t fund the full budget that the NRHS requested, was to save money for local taxpayers.

“One of the issues I’ve had is that they send animals out to rescues [outside Fayette County]. Luisos said. “As a Fayette County resident, do you think the residents, the ones paying the taxes, do you think that resident should have the first choice of adopting an animal at the animal shelter before it goes out to a rescue? I think they should have the first right to adopt an animal. If you don’t want to put Fayette County residents first, I have a problem with that.”

Sherry McDaniel is the treasurer at the NRHS. She said there hasn't been a large demand for local adoptions from Fayette County residents.

“The New River Humane Society said we love to adopt pets out locally. It's common that in a month for us to only adopt out nine or 10 animals locally. One hundred or even 200 animals will get selected to go to one of our rescue partners. Once a dog or cat is selected to go to rescue, we do have to honor that selection in order to maintain a good working relationship with those rescues. And the rescues yes, they may be out of county and state, but ultimately, they keep our animals alive.”

McDaniel said the NRHS plans to ask the Fayette County Commission to revisit their budget next year, and allocate more than the $181,000 they were given for fiscal year 2023.

In an email to West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Fayette County Commissioner Allison Taylor said the budget for FY 2023 is the same they were allotted last year, and was a $10,000 increase from the previous year. Taylor said the commission has asked the humane society to make policy changes to the shelter, including waiting five days to vaccinate stray cats, and accepting all stray cats the county brings to the shelter. She said the commission has also asked NRHS to disclose all of the funding it receives from other sources.

“Until the commission is able to resolve these and other matters with the NRHS, it would be hard-pressed to allocate it more funds,” Taylor said.

Evan Robinson and Matthew Light are high school juniors at the Fayette Institute of Technology. They reported this story as part of a project with Inside Appalachia to learn how to make radio stories.


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