CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The King Coal Festival has always been a jovial event in Williamson. Vendors sell every kind of deep fried food that comes to mind (and then some). Inflatable castles tower high for the children to bounce in and have a good time. In total, the occasion is considered a good, clean time for the whole family to relax and enjoy.
With all of this in mind, the Save Our Strays temporary shelter for abused animals was still busy working hard while the rest of the town was focused on having a good time. The nonprofit organization set up its tent on the street during the festival earlier this fall, with its volunteers giving their time to look for better homes for neglected animals.
After speaking with the president of S.O.S., Kathy Thompson, I realized that there are people in the community who care more than is imaginable.
S.O.S. is made up of officers, board members and foster parents. It is not an animal shelter, but it does have a small office trailer on Deskins Drive. The group has participated in almost every type of community activity in the past 10 years, from festivals to adoption fairs.
S.O.S. is always accepting donations of dog and cat food, bedding, collars, leashes and anything else that aids in caring for the animals. These can be dropped off at Kathy's Avon Treasures, 16 W. 4th Ave.
The organization seeks out families to foster the animals as their search continues for a permanent home. Also, any interested volunteers in the area are encouraged to join in the organization's meetings, held the last Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. at Goodman Manor.
"Our goal is to have a safe place to keep abandoned or stray animals until we can find a home for them," Thompson said. "We believe that all animals deserve a chance to survive and find a permanent home. If we can save even one animal from being put to sleep without reason, then we have accomplished our goal."
Due to the meek disposition of the animals at the festival, it was evident they'd been mistreated in the past. However, S.O.S. was taking good care of them. Children near the tent were extremely entertained with the animals, petting them and playing with them for extended amounts of time. Despite their past, it was obvious these animals would make incredibly loving, friendly pets for any home.
More than 200 animals in the Williamson area were rescued and placed in loving homes in the last year, Thompson said. The good people that take part in S.O.S. are truly warm-hearted people who really make me think of what it means to care.To contact Save Our Strays, call Thompson at 304-236-2300 or board member Vicky Lipps at 304-235-2854. You can also find the group on Facebook at www.facebook.com/S.O.S.AnimalShelter and Petfinder at www.petfinder.com/shelters/WV124.html.