Serious issues in Greene with animals

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Although these two circumstances are not directly related, there are serious animal issues in Greene County.


First, we were made aware the Greene County Humane Society is “swamped” with cats and kittens. Craig Wise, who serves on the humane society’s board of directors, said the holding capacity for felines is between 40 and 50. “Right now, we have approximately 100,” he said last week.


Each year, the shelter is inundated with kittens brought in by people who cannot care for a new brood a family pet has delivered, or, in the worst case, the kittens are abandoned and taken to the shelter by a Good Samaritan.


Wise said the swamping, so to speak, usually occurs earlier in the year. But, the shelter began receiving kittens regularly in June, and its numbers have grown continuously. And contributing to the overcrowding is the fact that the animal shelter in Fayette County was closed.


We are not suggesting everyone go the shelter and apply to adopt a kitten. Not everyone is suited to be a pet owner, proven by the fact there are 100 kittens crammed into cages at the Humane Society. As an the alternative, we are sure the shelter could use some financial donations, more volunteers and a good supply of kitten food.


Then we learned this week the Greene County Animal Response Team, charged with addressing the needs of animals during natural and man-made disasters, was reduced to a one-man operation.


Greene County has not been rife with disasters, but they do occur. As an example, during the “Snowmageddon” storm in February 2010, the animal response team was called to establish a shelter at the Greene County Fairgrounds so animals displaced from their homes could find care. The response team was there next to the American Red Cross emergency shelter for people forced from their homes by electrical outages and the loss of heat. The animal response team took in 27 dogs, most of which were owned by people who came to the Red Cross shelter and who refused to leave home without their pets.


Derek Forman, the county coordinator and currently the only volunteer, said the county’s animal response team was formed about five years ago to address the needs of animals during these types of disasters, and the team has had a hard time finding volunteers to help it with its work.


Unfortunately, Greene County has no animal control officer who can respond to issues involving animals other than abuse. Usually, as a last resort, Forman said he is called. He helped rescue a horse in western Greene County that was never claimed and put up for adoption, responded to a downed horse at the Waynesburg Livestock Auction, assisted police with a dangerous dog in Rices Landing and, about two weeks ago, rescued a kitten from a storm drain at the state welcome center.


Though the teams are primarily formed to plan for and respond during disasters, such as the winter storm or a cattle truck overturning on the highway, the scope of the Greene County teams has often been stretched because of the lack of other agencies that deal with animal issues.


Forman said he’s tried to recruit volunteers in the past, setting up a booth at the county fair, to no avail. “I can’t get any interest generated for some reason,” he said. That’s inexcusable.


But there are alternatives for those who do not want to go into the field. The team could use people willing to assist in animal rescues, but also those who can help with administrative duties, public relations or even recruiting other volunteers.


Foreman is going to try again by holding an orientation session at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Greene County Emergency Management Agency office, 55 W. Greene St., Waynesburg. People who want to attend the orientation can register at www.pasart.us. Anyone seeking additional information can call Forman at 724-966-8687.


We have seen the care and regard people have for animals at such events as the Greene County Fair. It is time for Greene’s residents to go an extra mile with that compassion.


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