Commissioners approve funding to LUV 4 Animals

Robin Keough

BUCKHANNON — Upshur County Commissioners approved funds for LUV 4 Animals Thursday morning to supplement project initiatives. LUV 4 Animals is a 501c3 tax exempt public charity since 2016. The organization assists the Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility by helping facilitate adoption of shelter animals by raising funds for their spay and neuter before they leave the facility, as well as emergency medical treatment. They also foster animals, network, and transport animals to out-of-state rescues and vet appointments.

LUV 4 Animals also helps decrease pet overpopulation in the community, as they find low cost spay and neuter options, according to Robin Keough, who came to speak with Commissioners on behalf of the organization on Thursday morning. They also assist with vet bills for emergency situations—both at the facility and in the community. Keough requested $3,000 from County Commissioners to assist with their efforts.

Keough has fostered several sick puppies and dogs in need herself that she said “would’ve ended up in the pound.” Surgeries in 2020 included amputation of a dog’s limb, multiple x-rays, and multiple purchases of antibiotics for ear, eye and skin infections. In 2020, they paid for the spay and neuter of 34 shelter dogs and 56 cats. Most of those animals were transported and fostered by LUV 4 Animals volunteers, and each one was placed in a home, according to Keough.

Through July of 2021, the group has spent $13,000 at area veterinarians. In August alone, they spent $2,600, which was primarily for spay and neuter of L-UAC shelter animals. Due to high volume at local vets, LUV 4 Animals also donated $3,500 this year to out-of-state rescues to assist with vetting costs once L-UAC animals were transported there, Keough reported.

This year already, 89 cats have reportedly been spayed. Tina Phillips, a volunteer with LUV 4 Animals has become the dedicated cat person and works with several low cost spay/neuter clinics, according to Keough. L-UAC has drastically reduced its euthanasia rate, and she added, “I think Jan Cochran [L-UAC Director] would confirm that it is due to our efforts of spaying and neutering the animals prior to adoption. People want to adopt a healthy vetted animal.”

In previous years, the cat euthanasia rate was close to 90%, Keough reported; however, last year it was down to 30%. Impressively, no healthy adoptable dogs were euthanized for lack of space last year. Although Keough explains they still have a long way to go, she is hopeful these numbers will be even better next year.

LUV 4 Animals takes most of the animals to a vet in Elkins that gives them a “very generous discount.” This vet reportedly charges approximately $125, depending on other factors, but this cost includes an e-collar, rabies vaccine and pain management. This price is significantly cheaper than vets in areas such as Baltimore and Pennsylvania, where most of these animals are transported to for rescue. Keough explained that when price checking in those areas, most vets quoted anywhere from $500-700, which does not include anything besides the spay and neuter. Keough also noted that out of the three dogs she took to the vet this week, all tested positive for lymes disease—which is growing in prevalence in this area.

LUV 4 Animals has had two dogs spayed this month, but they have appointments for 18 more through September, October and November in Elkins. The organization is low on funds and cannot make those appointments if they don’t receive some help, Keough expressed. She noted they are and have been unable to host several of their typical fundraisers due to COVID, which has significantly contributed to their low funds. The $3,000 requested from County Commissioners will reportedly be used to cover costs of spay and neuter.

Commissioner Kristie Tenney thanked Keough for all of her time and effort placed in this organization. Keough responded, “We have a lot of support in the community that really help us a lot financially. But we don’t want to bleed them dry.” This is the first time that LUV 4 Animals has made correspondence with County Commissioners to request funding. Commissioner Sam Nolte added, “You all have been super helpful to the pound. It takes a lot of pressure off of them.”

After a short discussion, Commissioners approved the $3,000, which will be spent on spay and neutering the shelter animals. Keough expressed, “We just act in faith, that if we put the money in them, they will get adopted.”

LUV 4 Animals will be hosting two adoption events on Saturday, September 11 at the Buckhannon and Weston Tractor Supply Company locations from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. If you have been thinking about getting a new pet, please consider adopting a local animal in need of a new fur-ever home!

In other news, Commissioners made a visit to Buckhannon-Upshur High School for a property inspection regarding the proposed amphitheater renovation project suggested by the Youth Environmental Club. YEC President Ty Landis came to Commissioners in July to seek their support. Although the item remained tabled during Thursday’s meeting, following the property inspection, County Commissioners expressed they will make a decision in the near future regarding the project.

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