Rescue organizations help animal abuse victims across southern W.Va.

Local - 5/1/2013 5:47 PM by Rebecca Turco
(Picture Courtesy: Operation Underdog)

BECKLEY - Countless cats and dogs in West Virginia are victims of abuse and neglect everyday, but rescue organizations are doing their part to help save these animals.

"Whenever you see all the innocent babies that are there and that don't deserve to be there, it's really a wake-up call," said Erica Stock, co-founder of Operation Underdog, a non-profit animal advocacy group that rescues pets in southern West Virginia.

"A lot of dogs suffer," Stock explained. "They come in all the time and we try to come up with the money for the surgeries because we don't have money for that." She said Operation Underdog will hold fundraisers "to try to help these dogs that others have abused."

Volunteers for this group work closely with the Humane Society of Raleigh County (HSRC), where employees estimate one-eighth of the animals coming in each year are abused or neglected.

Adoption Counselor Joyce Stover of HSRC explained employees keep these animals in an isolation room and work closely with them to build up their strength, both emotional and physical. "A lot of dogs come in here and they are so scared and they don't trust anybody because they have been beaten, kicked, abused, shot - and all they want is love," Stover said.

There are three main types of people who abuse animals: the experimenter, the cry-for-help abuser, and the conduct disorder abuser. Therapist Hamlet Smith of Life Strategies explained the conduct disorder abuser is the most serious diagnosis. "People are taking out their frustrations or getting a charge out of hurting or damaging another being," Smith said.

Some people abuse their pets through neglection, by not providing them food and water or by not bringing them to the veterinarian. "It makes you mad because most of it is preventative," said Carrie Carr, co-director of the Fayette County Animal Control Center. "[The owner] could have prevented this from happening if [they] just fed him, given him a shot."

Stock said the most frequent forms of animal cruelty in the area are starvation and animal neglect. Anyone who witnesses or suspects animal cruelty is asked to call their local animal control center.


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