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“Dot” spoke of her initial visit to the Barbour County Animal Shelter 15 years ago, and the conditions there that inspired her to start a Humane Society in the County with the help of friends Wilma Spurgeon and Barbara Bryan. At that time, the stray dogs that were picked up during the week and were unclaimed, were routinely euthanized at the end of the week. During this first visit to the County shelter she saw a pregnant dog named Roxie. Dot, who was the Director of Nurses at Broaddus Hospital, felt her heart go out to this young dog and told Joy that if she couldn’t find a rescue for Roxie, she would take her home. A few days later Roxie was happily settled in at Dot’s house, and had delivered her puppies. She remains with Dorothy to this day, along with two of the puppies that Dorothy also kept.

Joy Reed, another compassionate volunteer, had been working at the County Shelter, trying desperately to save as many of these condemned dogs and puppies as she was able.  Joy spoke about the difficult task of deciding which dogs she would be able to find homes for locally, or send to rescues, knowing that the dogs she was forced to leave behind on Friday would be euthanized before she returned on Monday. At times she had 40 dogs at her home that she had taken out of the shelter so that they would not be killed over the week-end. She described the eerie silence that greeted her at the shelter on Monday morning, and said that she is still haunted by the faces of the dogs that she couldn’t save.

During this time, Kim Delauder, now Vice President of Animal Friends, was doing her part for the cats and kittens of the County, who had no shelter to go to. She was rescuing and finding homes for stray and abandoned cats and kept them at her home, until homes could be found for them. Working alone on this project, she was sometimes overwhelmed by the number of these poor creatures who were left at her door.
What a different situation we have in Barbour County today. Through the efforts of Dorothy Hayhurst and friends, Animal Friends of Barbour County was created and chartered in 2002. Initially, the volunteers worked at the County Shelter, vaccinating and vetting the dogs, and finding homes and rescues for them. After several years, AFOBC established a shelter of its own, situated on land which was donated by Dorothy. There was a trailer for cats and kittens and one for dogs. There were also several outside pens for the larger dogs. Now they could rescue dogs from the County Shelter before they were euthanized, and they could also begin to help the overwhelming number of stray cats and litters of kittens who were found in the community every day.

A great leap forward occurred when, through the help of generous donors, the organization was given a permanent shelter building, equipped with pens for dogs and free-roaming rooms for cats. They are now able to wash the linens and blankets right at the shelter and they have gradually set up fenced areas so that the dogs can exercise and enjoy some free space. The new shelter can house at least 65 dogs, although they often have more, and at least 100 cats and kittens. Barbour County now has a safe place for neglected, abused and unwanted cats and dogs. And these innocent animals can stay indefinitely, without the threat of being euthanized.

Carol Talbot, the President of Animal Friends, expressed the organization’s gratitude toward Dot, Joy, Kim and all the other dedicated people who began AFOBC.  Kim Delauder, the Vice-President, presented Dot with a lovely musical globe from all the members of the organization. It contains statues of two little dogs inside, and an engraving that said “You have left paw-prints on our hearts”.

Animal Friends of Barbour County continues to struggle for funding to maintain the shelter and to care for over 200 dogs and cats,with a very limited number of volunteer workers. However, due to the efforts of Dorothy Hayhurst and those early pioneers, and the caring people who have followed, the dogs and cats of Barbour County now have a safe haven while they await their “forever” homes.

                                             By Judy Braunsberg