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Stray Cats an Issue In Monroe County

Photo by Carrie Graham Crossed Paws Animal Shelter President Christine Brown holds Spider, a kitten that is available for adoption. The animal shelter is at full capacity for cats due to an increase in the stray population in the area.

WOODSFIELD — Although Crossed Paws Animal Shelter is at full cat capacity, the staff is working to educate the public on ways to help combat the stray cat issue in the county.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic caused many veterinary offices to halt spay and neuter services, shelter officials say this has caused an influx of stray cats in Monroe County.

Crossed Paws Animal Shelter fields daily calls from people wanting to drop off cats at the facility; however, the shelter is at full capacity with dozens more on a waiting list. Shelly Young, shelter coordinator, said when people call in the staff directs them to other shelters or asks if they would like to be added to the wait list, which currently has between 20 and 30 animals waiting for a space.

In April, a new addition was added to the facility. The Kitty Pit Stop is designed to accommodate additional cats, but that area is also full. Young said it is difficult for the staff to keep up with all the cats in need of a place to stay.

“It’s a tough time. … Almost all the vets were not doing spay and neuters and that has probably set us back 10 years, because we were really making some headway. We get multiple calls and messages every day where before the pandemic we were getting two calls a week about stray cats,” she said.

Young said the shelter cannot take in any more cats at this time; however, she said they are still able to help people obtain cheaper spay and neuter services for their animals.

“If we all work together there wouldn’t be a cat problem,” she said. “People just want to pass on the problem and that can’t happen.”

Young urges people to spay and neuter their animals to help the county deter the growing cat population.

She said Crossed Paws has vouchers available for people in need of spay and neuter services that cuts the cost down significantly — $25 for a female and $20 for a male. Additionally, the Tiffany Dlesk Spay-Neuter Clinic in Moundsville has a grant program available for both dogs and cats that costs just $20 to have an animal fixed.

Christine Brown, president of the Crossed Paws shelter, suggests people post a photo of a stray animal they are concerned about on social media, feed it if possible and give it some time to see if the owner can be found.

She said the shelter will work with anyone who is willing to work with the staff.

Donations to Crossed Paws are not only used to help the animals at the shelter but also to help the public feed animals in need and assist with fixing them.

Young said they also have seen an increase in dog surrenders over the past few months.

Just a couple weeks ago, most of the kennels were full, she said. She said she believes the sudden increase in surrendors is due to people returning to work after being off or remote during the pandemic.

“The country is opening back up and people are going back to work and don’t want the responsibility anymore — the dog that was there for them all those months. It’s just sad,” she said.

Fortunately, there have been several dog adoptions in the past couple weeks.

The nonprofit shelter is completely staffed by volunteers. Christine Brown, president of the shelter, said it is always in need of more volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering at the shelter — whether it’s for an hour each month or every day — is urged to call 740-934-2693.

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