Highland SPCA Provides The Animal Welfare Services In Highland County

Monterey, VA – This is the second in a series of four news stories about animal welfare and control in the tri-county area. The first installment described the system in Bath County and this second installment describes the system in Highland County. A third story will cover Pocahontas County and the fourth will compare and contrast the different systems.

In Highland County, the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) finances and operates the animal shelter, located in the county seat of Monterey. Highland County provides a shelter building and utilities. The SPCA employs a shelter manager, who works 25 hours per week.

Highland County has a human population of just 2,321, and a corresponding low pet population. The animal shelter has a capacity of five dogs and 25 cats.
Highland SPCA board member Karen Brower says local residents provide additional shelter space, when needed.

“We try to foster out,” she said. “At this particular time, we have three dos in foster care. Some of our foster families are just local citizens that are happy to do this to help us and help the animals.”

Brower, a founding member of the Highland SPCA, says the group’s adoption program has been greatly successful.

“We handle about 110 animals a year – has been our average,”she said. “Last year, we only had to euthanize one dog and one cat and that was due to illness.”

Highland County employs a full-time animal control officer, who works closely with the SPCA. The officer responds to animal welfare complaints and delivers stray animals to the SPCA-operated shelter.

The Highland SPCA has an annual budget of approximately $50,000.
Brower says most of the SPCA’s funds are generated by a downtown thrift shop.

“We have a budget of approximately $50,000 a year,” she said. “The majority of that, approximately $30,000, comes from the benefit shop – The Attic – which is located in downtown Monterey. That is staffed totally by volunteers. “

The board member said the remaining $20,000 comes from donations and grants. The county government allocates no funding for shelter operations other than for building maintenance and utilities.

The SPCA and county animal control officer have a good working relationship in Highland County. Brower says the SPCA shelter manager provides direct support to the ACO.

“Many times, our shelter manager has gone out on calls with him, just because he needs another person to help him,” she said.

The Highland ACO stays busy with a variety of issues.

“He is responsible for any stray animals, feral animals that he picks up and brings to the shelter, sick animals, deer that’s been hit in the road; horses, cattle, sheep that maybe are not receiving the proper treatment, any complaints. He never knows what his call will be.”

Brower would like to see the county provide more support.

“I would very much like to see them do more to help us, financially,” she said. “The last couple years, as everybody knows, money has been tight. That’s why we continue to do what we do, but we’re getting to the point, too, where we could really use some financial assistance.”

The longtime animal welfare volunteer says Highland County needs a new animal shelter.

“The SPCA – that is our dream to have a new animal shelter,” she said. “Shelter management has changed drastically over the last 10 years. Our shelter is adequate, but, compared with some of the newer shelters, it’s kind of antiquated.”

Animal shelters in Virginia are inspected annually by the State Veterinarian.
Brower says she is encouraged by plans for a tri-county animal welfare conference to be held in the spring in Monterey.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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