BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Humane Society of Raleigh County (HSRC) officials are making a plea to local lawmakers to pass a law which would require pet owners to neuter and spay their dogs and cats.

Before Christmas, two Beckley Garbarge Company workers discovered a small pug-mix in a freezing dumpster on Hargrove Street in Beckley, prompting HSRC Executive Director Brett Kees to call for the law.

After a good Samaritan recently discovered six abandoned puppies around one-eighth of a mile from the HSRC shelter on Grey Flat Roads in Beckley, forced inside a single crate without food and water and out in the elements, HSRC Outreach Coordinator Hannah Cottle again called for an animal sterilization ordinance in Raleigh County.

Humane Society of Raleigh County workers were able to rescue the puppies before they died.
“You can just imagine what would’ve happened to those puppies if they’d sat out there all night. They had absolutely no shelter from the elements, other than each other,” Cottle said on Thursday, January 4, 2023. “The spay and neuter law, putting that into effect, would help with the stray animal problem, as a whole, less unwanted litters, less cats and puppies and other dogs, it would help mitigate that problem.”

Based on statements by Raleigh County officials, the number of stray animals picked up in the county was nearly 33% higher than average in 2023, with animal control officers responding to over 3,500 calls about strays.

“We’ve exceeded the number of normal intakes, by quite a bit,” said Raleigh County Assistant Administrator Billy Michael on Wednesday, January 3, 2023. “I think, in years past, we’ve been down in the 300’s. This year, our animal control officers have taken in 414 animals.”

Local lawmakers, however, said police aren’t able to enforce spay and neuter laws.

Raleigh County Commission President David Tolliver said the county government has tried other tactics to help the county’s stray animal problem, including a program which helps with spay and neutering costs.

“We have done (reduced cost spay-and-neuter programs) already twice in the past year, so it’s worked very well. All the certificates that we’ve had, everyone has come and got them so we’ve run out. There’s a good possibility we may do this program again,” said Tolliver.