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Humane officer helps the homeless provide care for their pets

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CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Dogs are often called man’s best friend. So when people are down on their luck the companionship of their pets can be their saving grace. One local woman is on a mission to help people care for their pets properly while they are struggling to get back on their feet.

“What is your baby’s name,” Charleston Humane Officer Khrista Messinger asks a man sitting next to his dog. Her cheerful voice greets people from the truck as she drives around the city. Through her work as a humane officer, she noticed a need in the community. Many of the homeless individuals living in the city also have pets that need meals and other types of assistance.

Messinger keeps a stash of dog and cat food, toys, flea medication and leashes in the back seat of her vehicle. She offers help to pet owners without judgment.

“We want to keep it so people who are having a rough patch can keep their animals,” she explained. “We are trying to be a resource and not always on the negative side of law enforcement.”

Messinger takes time to learn the names of the pets and their owners and makes a note of the pet’s condition. She keeps an eye out for the animals to make sure they stay in good health and lets the owners know she’s there to help. “We would love to be able to expand and provide free veterinary care, take the dog for shots, rabies vaccinations, and spay and neuter,” Messinger said.

The project helps people as much as it helps their pets.

“We have people say ‘why don’t you just round them all up and take them to the shelter’. People have attachments to their animals and regardless of their situation, they love their animals. They sleep with their animals and are with them 24 hours a day,” Messinger said. “Instead of dealing with them another blow by taking their animal we are trying to make sure they are healthy living on the streets with their humans.”

It is a mission close to her heart that brings a little light to the darkest days.

“You know a lot of the situations we go into you lay awake and think about at night,” she said. “But having five minutes of joy playing with a dog and knowing that you are providing for them is priceless.”

If you would like to donate pet food or supplies to be distributed through this project you can make donations to the Kanawha Charleston Humane Association and let them know that you’d like the supplies to go out into the community with the humane officers.

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