I do not normally respond to Letters to the Editor, because I believe by doing so we give wings to gossip. I am president of Belmont County Animal Rescue League and a 40 year volunteer at the shelter, so I must respond to the letter from Brandi. First of all, please let me reassure members and our friends that the animals in our care are not being neglected or abused. This has been a difficult year at the shelter and we have received more animals than ever. There has been overwhelming amount of neglect and abuse, people who have lost their homes, people who can’t afford to meet the needs of their pets, those who have passed away with relatives giving us the beloved pet, and the usual people who shirk their responsibility and leave the dog on the road or in some innocent person’s yard. Because we are still a county shelter operated by BCARL, we never refuse a dog. That means we get dogs almost every day. For example, the recent drop off of a mother dog and her 10 pups. I know the economy has changed, but never have I seen so many abandoned animals. The shelter does have a lot of dogs and cats, even though we are limited with our ability to care for the cats. There is no financial help for cats, except for what donations we receive from our supporters who have always opened their hearts to us. I wanted the public to know that the animals receive excellent care from our staff and director. There are times that we may leave some excrement in the yard. We do scoop our grounds regularly, but our first goal is to meet the needs of our animals. The animals live inside but go out daily so we can clean their cages. The staff gives hands on care to every animal.

The dogs come to us with fleas, but we bathe and use medication as needed. BCARL provides enormous amount of medical attention to the animals. Every animal that leaves the shelter is neutered or spayed, receive all necessary vaccinations, are dewormed, heart wormed tested, and chipped or tattooed as requested. Any animal that comes to us with medical issues are seen by a vet.

In response to Brandi comments about euthanasia, sadly it is a fact of life because we are a county shelter and we never close the doors to anyone. We do work with rescues and have recently made placements with those we know and trust. Rescues are not always the answer to all problems. Out of sight out of mind has never been our philosophy. Numerous rescues called about the pugs, but it is my opinion that we should give the people in our area a chance to adopt. The pugs came from a situation where their needs could no longer be met. Sadly one dog was found dead at their previous home. The other pugs had seen by a vet. We shared all the information with the adoptees. The majority of our animals are mixed breed and it is hard to find rescues for them. I try not to dwell on euthanasia, because it is very painful. People who criticize us should spend some time at the shelter. Our staff cares for animals with great compassion and love. Our director holds them and with a saddened heart, they take their last breath. My heart grieves for the animals and staff who care so deeply.

I know I have rambled on too long but I am sad and angry. I have spent my entire adult life with the animals of Belmont County. I have loved them and BCARL. I drive from Wellsburg to the shelter 5 days a week with my own gas money for no pay. If anyone believes that I give my time and love to a place that neglects animals, you should talk with me. At the start of BCARL, we did give dogs to anyone and on follow up visits found dogs either dead or abused. We are selective in our choices because we have learned the hard way that any home is not better than death. I have attempted to reach Brandi so we could discuss her issues, but have been unsuccessful. We have offended people in the past because our job is to be the voice of the animals. We have always been successful in fulfilling these duties to the animals and to our loyal friends.

Thank you,

Judy Geimer

BCARL President