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SPCA is 'overrun' by dogs, asks area residents for help
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Leslie Hervey, executive director of the Martinsville-Henry County SPCA, holds an armful of puppies on Wednesday at the SPCA building. The shelter is over its maximum limit for dogs and is asking the community to help find them homes. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Martinsville-Henry County SPCA is going to the dogs — literally.

“We are literally being overrun by puppies and dogs,” said Leslie Hervey, executive director of the no-kill shelter. Supplies, money and other help are “desperately needed.”

The SPCA routinely accepts puppies and dogs. Through its partnership with the North Shore Animal League, the animals are picked up here and taken to places such as Connecticut, New York and New Jersey where they are adopted, Hervey said.

North Shore is located in Port Washington, N.Y., an area that was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. As a result, Hervey said, North Shore is helping others through the crisis despite the fact that its own facilities are running on generators.

The SPCA has room for 60 dogs, but because it is unable to transport any animals through North Shore, it now is housing 105 canines, Hervey said.

To accommodate the need, Hervey said a number of temporary fixes were implemented.

For instance, different kinds of puppies are housed together in the “puppy rooms,” with younger or smaller litters housed separately in rooms that have crates lining two sides of the walls, she said.

“We normally don’t have that many animals in that small of a container,” Hervey said of the crates that now hold several puppies.

“Normally, they would be separated among three or four cages where they would be handled all the time,” she said while pointing to one crate that held 10 to 12 small puppies.

Also, with the increased number of animals to care for, no one has a lot of spare time, Hervey said. She explained that the additional puppy population requires more staff just to provide routine care.

With limited or no opportunities for socializing, the puppies especially are restless and hyperactive, she said.

“They chewed up the blankets” that were provided for them to lay on in the puppy rooms, Hervey said. Now, the puppies sleep on cots that are not as vulnerable to sharp teeth and claws.

Adult dogs are not faring any better, she said, and noted the runs that used to accommodate one dog now hold two or three.

“We’ve also been putting up pop-up” animal crates in several other areas to hold the increased population, Hervey said.

For instance, the “Get Acquainted Room” was commandeered to handle the overflow, as were rooms that used to house sick animals, Hervey said.

Because of the close living quarters, illnesses are a heightened concern, she said, and added that parvo (which can be fatal, especially in puppies) is more of a risk.

At least two litters of pups and their mothers are in foster homes due to the lack of room, and the SPCA is unable to accept pets from residents or bring in dogs from the Henry County Animal Shelter, Hervey said.

“That means more dogs are being euthanized because the shelter can only hold so many,” and resources there also are limited, she said.

Supplies are nearly exhausted and the SPCA is low on blankets, towels, chew-toys, bleach, Dawn dish detergent and other items, Hervey said.

Foster homes and additional volunteers are needed, she added.

“We also need money,” not only for operating expenses but also to buy supplies and pay for additional help, Hervey said.

“We had hoped to raise $225,000 by the end of the calendar year. We are sitting at $85,000,” she said, and noted that the agency’s funding is $50,000 less than it was last year at this time.

Hervey said she does not know why that is, but “we really hope people are waiting to give later” in the year.

The SPCA receives no contributions from outside organizations such as the United Way or the Harvest Foundation, she said.

“Our funds come from individuals in the community” and local companies, she said. “We are so, so, so grateful for the support we have received, but we desperately need more.”

For more information, to find out how to help or to adopt an animal, call 638-7297; visit online at; or go to the SPCA at 132 Joseph Martin Highway.


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