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HUNTINGTON — With aid from a grant, a local animal shelter is able to support pets with an on-site medical director.

The Huntington Cabell Wayne Animal Control Shelter was recently awarded a $50,000 grant investment from Petco Love, formerly known as the Petco Foundation.

Courtney Proctor Cross, the shelter’s executive director, said the money would support a medical director at the shelter as well as other lifesaving measures. Cross said the shelter has received other grants in the past from Petco Love, as the shelter is a partner with the organization.

“The big thing for us was that it made such a huge difference when we were able to hire a vet tech to be our medical director,” Cross said. The addition allowed someone to be over the shelter’s intake process and see to the general welfare and care for each animal.

Emily Sowards, who is the medical director at the shelter, said a typical day for her involves a walk-through of the whole facility to check on animals. She might follow up on a concern another employee noted about a pet or give animals medications.

All animals see her when they first come to the shelter. She may also talk with a person who is adopting if there are any specific needs of the pet.

Sowards said her favorite part of her job is getting updates on animals that were adopted out of the shelter. Some animals may have had a hard past or been treated for injuries or illness at the shelter.

“The most rewarding part, I think, is seeing them beginning to end and seeing what a big difference we can make,” Sowards said.

Sowards said the shelter sees about 5,000 animals a year. Much of the medical care for injuries or illness can be done in-house, she added. The shelter does have a few veterinary partners who give guidance.

Sowards said she appreciates all the community support that the shelter receives. She said the shelter wouldn’t be able to do what it does without that support and the support of Petco Love.

“Today, Petco Love announces an investment in Huntington Cabell Wayne Animal Control Shelter and hundreds of other organizations as part of our commitment to create a future in which no pet is unnecessarily euthanized,” said Petco Love President Susanne Kogut in a press release last week.

As of Monday, the shelter had around 100 cats and about 75 dogs, Cross said. Intake numbers are starting to return to normal, she said. At the beginning of the pandemic last year, intake dropped down a bit and the shelter had more requests for adoption and fostering pets.

One by One Animal Advocates announced in a Friday press release that the organization also received a Petco Love grant in the amount of $27,500. The grant also supports lifesaving work for animals.

Heather Aulick, president of One by One Animal Advocates, said in a press release that the grant will allow the organization to expand its spay and neuter program into neighboring states and purchase more supplies. Some funds from that grant will also help owners facing financial difficulties to provide emergency care for pets. Another portion will go to medical supplies for animals in One by One’s care.

“Petco Love’s grant investment will support our lifesaving work, allowing us to provide an increased level of care for local animals in need,” Aulick said in the release.

McKenna Horsley is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter @Mckennahorsley.

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