Event helps accentuate local stray problem

It was a dog day at Clarion County’s Veteran’s Park on Saturday, as the Tri-County Animal Rescue Center hosted the seventh annual International Homeless Animal Day to raise awareness for the growing problem of homeless animals.

“We rescue dogs and cats,” said Wendy Turnipseed, president of Tri-County Animal Rescue Center in Shippenville. “Tri-County is a no-kill shelter. Our vet bills are in excess of $30,000 a year. That’s not counting food.”

Tri-County’s main function is to find homes for cats and dogs and, Turnipseed said, the shelter’s adoption rate is at about 95 percent.

“We do have several long-term residents, but we are hoping the right person comes along for them also,” she said.

“The animals come from everywhere. We get them from families who can no longer keep the dog or cat for some reason, or the dog warden brings them in.

In addition to taking in strays from Clarion County, Turnipseed said the shelter takes in animals from Forest and Jefferson counties as well.

“We will take a pet from anywhere,” she said. “If we have room and someone calls us asking us to take a dog or a cat, we will do our best.”

The Route 322 shelter, which has 22 kennels and a puppy room, does not do same-day adoptions, according to Turnipseed. Prospective pet owners must submit an application and agree to a background check.

Geremy Kephart, of the Allegheny Spay & Neuter Clinic/Animal Welfare Council, is in the business of reducing the number of homeless animals.

“Since we opened in 2009, we spayed or neutered 41,409 animals, including 14,227 dogs, 27,000 cats and 88 rabbits,” Kephart said.

The Clearfield County organization, she said, works with a lot of shelters in surrounding counties.

“We do spay or neutering, and we have a transport van that goes to different shelters in the area and brings them back to the clinic to be spayed or neutered,” Kephart said.

The clinic, located in Woodland, is a nonprofit that runs strictly on donations. It is open to the public and offers vaccines and exams.

“We have a doghouse program for dogs in need that have no shelter and we also have a pet food pantry,” Kephart said.