Spay and Neuter Clinic to Expand in Moundsville

Tiffany Dlesk Spay-Neuter Clinic veterinarians Dr. Carrie Wehr, left, and Dr. Denise Nally return Lily to her owner after treatment. Photo by Alan Olson

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that the Marshall County Animal Shelter is not the only animal shelter in the region to accept cats.

MOUNDSVILLE — The Tiffany Dlesk Spay-Neuter Clinic is expanding, bringing on an additional veterinarian while also planning to implement new programs in the coming months.

In August, the clinic welcomed Dr. Carrie Wehr, who had formerly served as a volunteer at the clinic on her off days from a larger animal hospital. As time went on, Wehr said she began to enjoy the company of her fellow doctors before eventually being brought into the fold full-time.

At the clinic, Wehr said, she feels she is more vital to the operation, and that the sense of belonging drives her.

“The fact of feeling needed — you want to feel needed, and working in a bigger, corporate practice, you’re replaceable. Working here, I don’t know what they’d do if I wasn’t here,” Wehr said. “(It’s nice) to be able to help out lower-income families who can’t go to the bigger places. When they lost their previous doctor, I figured they needed the help.”

Wehr is the fifth paid employee at the clinic, along with numerous volunteers.

“I call her ‘angel,’ because she saved us,” said volunteer Janie Husek. “She’s saving the world.”

Dr. Denise Nalley, another veterinarian at the clinic, said the coming months will bring numerous additional programs to serve the county’s animals. Beginning in October, the clinic will hold wellness visits on Thursdays, which will accommodate a broader range of health needs, such as vaccinations, sick visits and more services. These programs already are beginning to gain traction and fill up, Nally said.

“Those appointments, just via word of mouth, are starting to book up,” she said. “If a dog has a mammary tumor and hasn’t been spayed yet, that’s something we can encourage them to do in the room — and that’s with them just having come in for a rabies shot or something.”

“We’re looking forward to be able to help even more after these visits. If a wellness check finds a lump, then we can set up and do a lump removal instead of them going and paying a lot more someplace else,” added Dr. Mic Brooks. “A lot of people don’t go to their annual veterinarians, because they can’t afford it.”

Earlier in August, in honor of National Dog Day, the clinic also held a free microchip clinic at Oglebay Park, during which 26 dogs received free tagging with microchips or identifying tattoos. A future event is also planned to be held, until each of the 75 microchips on hand can be distributed.

The microchips and tattoos serve critical roles in retrieving lost dogs — something to which Husek can attest. When a dog followed her into the Belmont County Animal Shelter, she recognized the tattoo as belonging to the Marshall County shelter, and helped her reunite the dog with its owner.

“Within 15 minutes, we had him back,” Husek said.

Other programs coming for October include a trap, neuter and release program in the area, through which volunteers will assist in spaying and neutering feral cats. Nally said the program is needed to control the area’s cat population.The program will include a seminar on Oct. 17.

The Tiffany Dlesk clinic assists lower-income households, but at thresholds that still include many residents in the area, from single-person households of up to $33,000, Nalley said

“For the Ohio Valley, they’re pretty high guidelines,” Nally said. “There’s a lot of families who are under. Most families qualify. We used to be along the same as the school lunch program.”

Husek operates “Saving Our Shadyside Strays,” a volunteer service to bring stray cats from Shadyside to the Marshall County shelter for treatment and to attempt to find them homes. Husek said she tends to bring in 10-15 strays per month through her program.

“We have lots of strays, so in my little chunk of the world, I partake from Shadyside,” she said. “I work out of my home, and if someone calls and says, ‘Hey, I have a cat,’ I take it down to the shelter. And if someone in need says, ‘We’d like to keep this,’ I’ll set up an appointment and get them set up. I’m earmarked for my program here.”