WISE — Beverly Grigsby has seen the fallout of many holiday gifts from her position as Wise County’s animal control officer.

Grigsby and her deputy, Scott Wells, say the weeks after Christmas usually mean an influx of puppies and kittens that did not turn out to be the perfect holiday gift. While the Wise County Animal Shelter was not at capacity Tuesday, Grigsby said that will change soon.

As Grigsby talked about the routine as the shelter operates during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wells went outside to meet an unexpected visitor. A pet owner brought two cats to surrender because feeding them had become too expensive.

“Our problem has been so many surrenders,” Grigsby said. “A lot of it has been because of the pandemic as businesses close and people lose their jobs. It’s heartbreaking for them having to give up their pets.”

As Grigsby and Wells took the two cats, well fed and shy, Grigsby said local animal rescue groups like PAWS of Wise County and Appalachian Feline Friends help by taking cats and dogs and assisting with spays, neuters and adoptions.

“If it weren’t for the volunteers and rescues that step up, we’d be in a lot worse position,” Grigsby said.

Christmas pets that did not work out still put seasonal stress on the shelter.

“The first time a puppy uses the bathroom in the house or barks all night and some people realize that having a pet is more than a Christmas present,” Wells said.

“Winter is a really tough time to take on a new pet,” Grigsby said. “It’s better for the pet and for they owner if you adopt in the summer and can be outside more at first and get used to each other.”

Sometimes potential adopters come to the shelter looking for a dog, Grigsby said, and may not realize whether an older dog or particular breed might be a good fit with younger children or in their household.

People seeking to adopt a dog or cat from the county shelter have to fill out an application and commit to spaying or neutering their pet, Grigsby said.

The application also includes questions on whether the adopter has owned other pets and for references. The application helps people consider what sort of commitment a pet will be, she added.

Animals are not adopted out to breeders, Grigsby said, and adopters have to commit to returning the animal to the shelter if they are unable to care for it.

If an adopter does take the time to prepare and choose carefully, the effort will be worth it, Wells said.

“With a shelter dog, it’s like they have that innate ability to know if they’re going to go to a good home,” Wells said.

“We get a lot of requests, and one thing I always recommend is to do your research,” Grigsby said. “A pet is not a toy. It’s a lifetime commitment.”

The Wise County Animal Shelter is now running on an appointment-only basis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information or to set up an appointment, call (276) 679-6750.

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