I’m just a tad obsessed with animals. From the noble canine to the humble white rat, I’ve had just about every pet you can imagine. I’m crazy about the little fur-balls. But I’m willing to bet my love for animals is trumped by every member of the amazing team at the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley.

The staff and volunteers at HSOV care for, foster, and love every animal that comes through their doors. From stray cats brought in from the side of the road to dogs that are surrendered because they are considered “aggressive,” HSOV never loses faith in an animal’s potential to be rehabilitated. Theirs is a cause close to my heart, so when I moved to Marietta, I was proud to learn that our city is home to a shelter with one of the highest successful rehoming rates in the country!

Last weekend (during the combination River, Trails & Ales festival and Merchants & Artists Walk), amidst the local businesses promoting their goods and organizations camped out on the Armory lawn, I came across an odd sight on Front Street. A troop of volunteers in brightly colored t-shirts wrangled a pack of excited HSOV dogs, and they were the highlight of the evening. The pups were dressed in their “Adopt Me” finest, and they greeted everyone who walked by. In between pets, I was lucky to catch up with Amber Dennison DeLong, the HSOV Volunteer Coordinator, who shared her story with me under the hot August sun.

© Nathaniel Knobel

How did you get started working with HSOV?

I live here in Marietta, but I started by volunteering at the Humane Society in Parkersburg about five or six years ago. I learned that Marietta was short on volunteers, so I started volunteering up here instead. When our previous Volunteer Coordinator became the President, she appointed me to the role.

What kind of responsibilities do you have as the Volunteer Coordinator?

In addition to recruiting and training volunteers, we like to get the animals out and about. I always enjoyed taking my son to local festivals like this, and when I approached the shelter manager, he said it would be okay for us to bring dogs to these events. The community has responded really well to it. Some of them have said, “Wow, we didn’t know you had dogs like this at the Humane Society.” Soon after we started doing this, people started contacting me and requesting that we bring dogs to their events, and it just snowballed from there!

Sounds like you and the volunteers are really focused on having a presence in the local community.

Yeah, it’s amazing how it’s grown. When I started, I think we had five volunteers. Now, every time we have an event, we easily get twenty-five volunteers to sign up immediately. It’s gotten to the point where the fundraising team will contact me to assist with their events, just to have some volunteers and some animals present. I wasn’t expecting that because I’m not even a part of fundraising, but the two pieces have really started to go hand-in-hand.

© Nathaniel Knobel

That makes sense, the dogs are the biggest fundraisers!

That’s right! The dogs are the ones bringing the money in!

Are you enjoying your new role?

Yes! It feels like it was meant to be. I’ve always been an animal lover, and in Parkersburg, I enjoyed walking the dogs, but that was most of the work I did. Here, I’m able to enjoy both the animals and the people. This is my social life, really! The volunteers and I kind of fuel each other. They mean so much to me. When I get frustrated or life gets busy, they are the ones that keep me going.

If someone wanted to volunteer, how can they get signed up?

They can contact me directly or contact the shelter. I’m also at the shelter every Saturday from Noon-3:00 pm, and I host volunteer orientations for anyone who would like to start helping out at the shelter.

As the only Humane Society in Washington County, HSOV sees an exorbitant number of animals come through, and they rely heavily on donated supplies and monetary contributions to give the best care to our furry friends. Recently, businesses such as Tim Horton’s, C&C Toyota, and The Original Pizza Place have generously hosted fundraisers and donated profits to HSOV. Individuals can help, too—the rest of the month is jam packed with events benefitting these worthy animals. See you there!

  • This weekend, local businesses and organizations are invited to host any fundraiser with the theme “Going to the Dogs!” Gather your co-workers for an office raffle, host a canned (dog) food drive, or just gather up your spare change and donate it to the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley.
  • August 14-15, 8:00 am-5:00 pm: The American Legion (8th & Wooster) hosts a Rummage & Bake Sale for HSOV! Browse the goods and take home a new treasure or some treats for your sweet tooth. Interested in donating sale items? Bring housewares and baked goods to the Legion on Thursday, August 13 from 3-8 pm.
  • August 16, 1:00 pm: Enjoy BINGO, raffles, and drawings at the Reno Community Building (260 Sandhill Road)! Donate animal supplies or food to enter the drawing, and pay just $20 for twenty games of BINGO, which starts at 2:00 pm. There are a limited number of tickets, so to get one, call or text Jamiann Voshel at 740-525-0517.
  • August 29, 10:00 am-4:00 pm: If you’re considering adding a furry friend to your family, come on out to We Luv Pets (450 Pike Street, Suite A) for an Adopt-a-Thon and meet some of HSOV’s amazing dogs and cats. If you just want a chance to mingle with the animals, you are welcome to stop by with a donation in exchange for some slobbery love.

© Nathaniel Knobel

For more information about HSOV, volunteering, or fundraising events, visit their website at www.hsov.org or find them on Facebook.