Posted: December 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm

By: Shishira Sreenivas, Chelsey Corroto, and Frances Silva

MORGANTOWN––The Monongalia County Canine Adoption Center is home to hundreds of cats and dogs that are dropped off, picked up or found by the dog wardens.

Charles “Tiny” King has been at the center for eight years and has seen thousands of dogs throughout his tenure.

This year alone more than 15,000 animals have come through the facility.

“The capacity is hard to determine,” King said. “At one time I had 80 to 100 animals living within the facility.”

Overcrowding is one of the main problems King and the dog wardens deal with everyday.  The Adoption Center, which used to be shared with the motor pool, was remodeled in 1995 and the facility now features twelve cages for housing dogs, while cats are caged in a separate room.

“The pets stay until they are adopted,” King said.  “We have cats that have been here for six to seven months.”

Lost dog and cat posters hang up on a bulletin board at the entrance of the Mon County Adoption Center.

Despite extra cages, animals are still subject to being put down if the facility doesn’t have enough space. On average, the facility puts down four animals each day because of the complications that arise from overcrowding. Among these problems is the spread of disease, which spreads much quicker when there are more animals per cage.

The state law of West Virginia passed in 2005 by Governor Joe Manchin requires all animals to be spayed and neutered.  However, with the exception of the rabies shot, dogs and cats are not tested for internal parasites or respiratory diseases that are commonly found in animals when they enter the facility.

“Vaccinated dogs are separated from non-vaccinated dogs,” King said. “A pet record is kept for each dog and cat that comes through the center.  The info on the front of the packet states what is known about the animal and the inside contains additional information on the animal’s medical history.”

The first vaccine given to the animals is for Parvovirus and is in effect for one year. The second vaccination is given for rabies and is effective for three years.

Despite the warden’s efforts to keep the dogs healthy, once one animal becomes sick the disease spreads quite quickly.

Canine Parvovirus, or commonly known as Parvo, is an intestinal disease that eats animals alive from the inside out. It is derived from feces and characterized by dehydration.

“I have seen more dogs die from Parvo than I have ever seen in my life,” King said. “The key to preventing disease is recognizing the illness quickly. Once an animal is diagnosed the illness spreads like wildfire.

Dog leashes for the animals are hung up at the Mon County Adoption Center.

King adds, “I have had five cages of dogs knocked out by one sickness.”

Even the dogs that survive aren’t always safe.

Animals are randomly selected and euthanatized by the euthanasia technician for the county pound, and despite efforts to adopt out the animals, almost seventy percent of the animals who come to the center are euthanized.

“It’s a sad day in the world when you have to put an animal down and you don’t understand why,” King said.

If you’re interested in adopting a pet, visit their website at www.petfinder.com/shelters/WV105.html or visit the center itself on Lockside Road in Westover.