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New Dimension To Cat Problem Emerges

By Staff | Mar 24, 2010

For the third week in a row, more concerned citizens met with the commission to further discuss the overpopulated cat problem in the county. At the Wetzel County Commission meeting held March 23, Reyne and Darrell Dawson from AAA Animal Control Services in Ritchie County headed the conversation. Others present were Linda Henriksen from Olive Branch Animal Rescue and Refuge, Inc., Suzy Hill, Leslie Manley, Pam Ferrell, Rosy Cozart, and Joan Frye.

The Dawsons wanted the commission’s advice on what to do about the situation. AAA was asked to trap cats in Paden City, however the Dawsons realized very quickly that there are bigger problems. Generally speaking, working in Paden City is difficult as it lies on two counties. Additionally, unlike larger counties, Wetzel County doesn’t presently have a place to send the trapped cats and AAA doesn’t wish to euthanize 70 cats on a regular basis. This large number is how many they found at one abandoned location in Paden City.

When AAA came to Sistersville, the routine was to send the cats to farms willing to accept the cats. The farms benefit from having many cats for mice control, however Henriksen explained that such a process isn’t solving the problem because the farmers aren’t altering the cats or giving them their shots, further populating the area with kittens and spreading disease. The Dawsons also stated there are simply more cats than farms in the area.

“We’re trapping and sending them, but there’s no tracking system. The cats are still multiplying and coming back into the cities,” said Henriksen. “The problem was not fixed in Tyler County. They were moved, yes, but there was no follow-up. We’re not fixing the problem this way.”

It was suggested the trapped cats be sent to a feral cat program such as one in Parkersburg. Programs like these alter the cats, then release them back. Although this doesn’t solve damage and destruction issues, it would at the least help cut back on new litters.

After much discussion and under advice from the commission, AAA Animal Control Services concluded not to take on the cat problem until there were solutions found regarding how to handle the cats once they are trapped.

In similar matters, Cozart of the Wetzel County Animal Shelter shared with the commission that someone brought a cat to the shelter and stuck it in the county dog truck, unbeknownst to anyone working there. The truck hadn’t been used in about two weeks and the cat was found just recently. There’s no telling how long the cat was trapped there, but Cozart expects it had been several days. The shelter is offering a reward to anyone who can tell them who put the cat in their truck. The number for the Wetzel County Animal Shelter is 304-455-5348. The cat is described as black with a white chest and paws.

In another matter, Rosemary Guida from WorkForce West Virginia met to update the commission on Region Five’s performance reports from the state. Region Five, which is the northern panhandle region, is the only region meeting performance. Guida credited her great staff and the commission’s support for such positive reports.

Guida also informed the commission that their waiting list is very long and as such, the state has given WorkForce WV an additional $300,000 to aid the program. Guida mentioned needing aid to place people in school and training programs. According to the operator report, over 6,800 people have gone through the Weirton, Wheeling, and New Martinsville offices in recent history.

Workforce WV plans to partner with West Virginia Northern Community College for the Elevate America project. This project is an agreement with Microsoft to give information technology training to people who are interested in learning. The project offers free vouchers to West Virginia residents who then complete IT training at their own pace. WVNCC has agreed to allow these persons to use their computer labs on each of the three campuses. This program has not begun just yet but should be up and running soon.

Lastly, Guida talked briefly about plans for this year’s Summer Youth Program. She anticipates about 125 kids to participate.