In Need of a Friend… an Animal Friend?

February 27, 2018

Molly Titus, 20, was born and raised in Spencer, West Virginia. She is currently a junior at West Virginia University, where she studies strategic communications with an emphasis in public relations and a minor in business. She loves being involved with people in her community, whether it be reading to elementary school children or volunteering at the local nursing home. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and ballet dancing.

Animal Friends of North Central West Virginia is a local no-kill animal shelter and nonprofit located in Morgantown, West Virginia. Animal Friends was the first no-kill shelter in the northern area of the state and is currently the only one in Monongalia County.

Rachel Wasserman, an employee at Animal Friends, has worked at the sanctuary for over a year now finding animals a forever home.

According to Rachel, although the shelter mostly keeps dogs and cats, it has housed many interesting animals, including birds, reptiles, and pot-bellied pigs. The employees obtain their animals by going to the local kill shelter, where they pick animals up and transfer them to Animal Friends. At Animal Friends, the animals are treated as needed: spayed, neutered, de-wormed, treated for fleas, and vaccinated.

Rachel and the other employees rely on volunteers to help them with the animals, as it is important for the animals to have a lot of human contact.

“There are some dogs that are just so scared and they won’t come out of their shell, but if they are here we can help turn them around…just give them a temporary home and make them comfortable,” she said.

According to Rachel, the volunteers are extremely important to animals because if an animal only gets attention from one person, they will begin to get attached. So it is important for the animals to have different human interactions. That way, the animals will become more comfortable transitioning into their forever homes with their owners.

The shelter has an adoption and fostering program. Fostering is mostly used for puppies who need extra care, or other unusual cases. To adopt an animal, one must first fill out an adoption form. Once completed and accepted, potential owners are encouraged to come to the shelter to spend time with the animal.

It is important to the employees of the shelter that the animals connect with their potential owners. Most potential owners of larger dogs will be asked to play with them and additionally walk them to see if they are a good match. According to Rachel, sometimes a dog could have no interest in one person but then love another one.

In the shelter, there are different rooms for the dogs and cats, each with their own structure and furnishing. Animal Friends currently houses six cats, all unique in their own way. Rachel explained that cats do not normally colonize, so they have to keep the number of cats they have to twelve total; but it is interesting to watch relationships form between the animals.

The fact that the shelter is no-kill is amazing, but according to Wasserman, the employees are extremely grateful to have the temporary home they have created for the animals.

“We were lucky enough to have both of our buildings donated. They are both double-wide trailers, so they feel more like a home than a shelter with kennels and concrete,” she said.

The employees and volunteers genuinely care about the work they are doing with the animals. At the shelter, the employees keep a board of clippings and pictures of animals that have been adopted.

“We love when people tell us how they are doing,” Rachel said.

Animal Friends shelter also has a partnering non-profit, the Animal Friends Thrift Shoppe, which runs on a volunteer basis as well. The shoppe collects any and all types of goods including antiques, books, CDs, housing items, kitchen items, jewelry and more. All profits collected from the shoppe goes to the shelter to help with expenses.

The employees and volunteers at Animal Friends not only give hope to the animals of the community but spread kindness to the people, too.

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